Jumping right into the post today, no foreplay…
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I first began this as a response to a blog Keala linked, but it became too long… the original poster wrote about her father — the biological father she’s never truly known.
I’m here via a link Keala posted… hope you don’t mind, but I couldn’t resist. Your letter touched in a very personal way, so I am going to respond.
I’m going to respond as a father who didn’t even know his son until he was seven years-old. I won’t tell you what you need to do. You’re a grown and obviously intelligent woman; in your heart, you will find the answer.
What I will tell you is a little about me, and maybe in that way, you might understand your journey a little better. Perhaps this maybe like a letter from a man who might resemble your father, I don’t know…
As I stated, I had a son with a woman I didn’t care for. In fact, we didn’t care much for each other. She wanted to have a child to “calm herself down” but forgot to mention that to me. This is in no way an attempt to rationalize my actions. I am accountable for what I did. Soon after my “partner” of all of one month told me she was pregnant, I freaked out. The last person I wanted to give birth to a child of mine was this woman, but it was her body and her choice.
We fought… a lot. We fought to the point where we couldn’t stand the sight of one another and then one day, out of anger she told me that the child wasn’t mine that she had been with someone else. While I was happy to hear that, a part of me knew it wasn’t true, but it was my out. She had given me the one good reason to leave and I did. I live a crazy life, based on getting and using whatever — people, places, and things mostly. And so I went on with my life.
Sorry this is so long, but it’s hard to cut off some pieces. My life took a steady downward spiral (as did hers) and eventually I had to leave the City because some people who took exception of my separating them from their money were looking for me. I left to go down south and a year or so passed. One day, a mutual friend called to tell me that my former lover was walking around with a baby that looked just like me: blue eyes, same smile, same everything. Furthermore, she had gotten married to some civilian (what I called:”straight” people) and was saying the kid was his. My friend had known me all my life, knew my family and he tells me, “Eddie, that kid is a Rosario if I ever saw one, you better come up here and see what’s going on.”
That’s how I found out I was a father.
I went back up north and the first time I saw her with my son, she was, like, shocked. I was never cruel, nor mean, nor “bad-assed” or anything like that, but I was known for my intelligence and for not brooking any shit. We went back and forth with the power struggles and I finally got to see my infant son for the first time. It was weird because I don’t know what I was expecting, but, like, no angels sang, there was no epiphany, no shining light, just this snot-nosed kid who had just taken a dump and stunk to high heaven. What did freak me out was that the little ma’fucca did look just like me. It was weird, like looking in a mirror. I know this sounds fucked up but it’s how I felt.
My “solution” was to make his moms like me again and take away all of us down south and start a new life. I managed to seduce her (or she me, I forget which) and we had this passionate love affair (again), but when it came time to pull the trigger on my “plan” she reneged and then her husband discovered our affair.
We, she and I, were both still using, still going downhill really fast and I guess a part of her realized that her husband would offer her more stability. Her husband actually called me to threaten my life, saying shit like, “I know where you live, watch your back blah blah blah… ” My response to that was to go to his front door, drag him outside of his house and kick his ass. I believe he lost a tooth, not sure.
His response was to call the cops on me. But I was so skinny, the cops laughed. They couldn’t believe someone standing at 5’7” and weighing about 125 lbs could’ve caused that kind of damage. And to tell you the truth, I didn’t even go full fury on him because it was a mismatch.
I digress, but all this is connected, trust me. He tried to sue me, but when we went to mediation, I told the mediator and him to go fuck themselves, but I also signed a statement stating that I would keep some yards away from both my son and his mother.
On his birth certificate, I don’t appear as the father and my son does not carry my last name.
I walked away from all that went on my way. Living the life I knew, but hating the fact that I walked away from my son. I felt shitty about that. I felt like less of a man — everyday. And everyday, failure as a father was one of the things I used to push a needle into my arm. Because I felt worthless and not being a good father only confirmed my feelings of worthlessness.
This isn’t an excuse, merely stating a fact of my state of mind.
Flash forward about seven years. Through those years, I lived between The South and NYC, at various rehabs, jails and prisons, and I erased my son’s mother from my mind. I thought of my son only in those times when I wanted to feel like shit, which was often. I had heard her husband became a crack addict, in the process losing his job and his wife. They separated a few months after our affair, and while he would see my son occasionally, he became an addict, just like me. I take no pleasure in that fact. I wouldn’t wish the disease of addiction on my worst enemy.
Eventually, I would come to experience a series of events that I call my “spiritual awakening.” No, I wasn’t born again, one time being born is fine with me. I was in the process of picking up the pieces of my fractured life, and always in the back of my mind, I knew I had a son out there somewhere. A good friend once told me that what I needed to do was to focus on becoming a better person a day at a time because when I least expected it, my son would come into my life. Which I thought was a bunch of bullshit.
But that’s how it happened. I got a phone call late one night telling me that my son’s mother was about to die. She was dying from the very disease I was able to arrest and from complications of the AIDS virus. I’ve written about that experience before, though not many know the full context of the story. I won’t rehash that part here, for this blog has gone on long enough. Suffice it to say that I met my son again when he was seven years-old and most in need of my presence.
When his mother passed, he clung to me as if I were the only person alive. I guess even at his age, he sensed I was his only true biological connection. By a series of really weird events, I became my son’s primary care-giver for the next seven years of more, I don’t remember exactly how long, who keeps track of things like that. And I wish I could say I was the greatest thing since canned coke, but I can’t. as a father, I had a lot of shortcomings, but I like to think that when I gave to my son, I gave as best as I could for a s long as I could. And I don’t even know if I can say that, but I tried…
If you’re still reading this, you might be asking why I would share such a story, and what the heck does it have to do with your post! But if you’re still here then you will know the answer. You see, today my son and I are not as close as I would like us to be. We’ve had “issues” and for his part, I think the feels the less he has to do with me, the better. And please, I will delete any comments offering sympathy; I’m not looking for that here. I am writing this because I think the answer to your question lies in what I feel toward my estranged son. Here it is simply put: we must reconcile because it is for his own good. Not because I want to feel fulfilled as a father or some other such nonsense, but because as along as he has lost me, he will be incomplete. He must find that father, as you must find yours, because without that part, he will be missing a part of himself. Without this resolution, a part of him will be forever closed to him. But as in your case, this is a decision he must make for himself. As for my part? It’s my job to let him know that that door is always open whenever he wants to walk through that door, but I can’t make him walk through — that’s his decision.
And I think that’s what you’re really asking. You’re asking if you should to open that closed door to the deepest part of your heart. You’re asking if you should follow that impulse and I can’t tell you that, but I can say that until you find some resolution, your father’s shadow will always loom large.
With Much Love,