Faceless are the fathers who raise the sons of tomorrow.
I can’t sleep. Maybe I’m over anxious, maybe I’ll still amped up from one of the longest days I ever had. Either way sleep eludes me. While I’m browsing the blogs for things to read, perhaps finding fodder to bring about a quicker nights sleep, I come across a post that gives me pause to think.
Father’s Day, what it means to some… it doesn’t mean to others. Everyone has a different tale and that tale grows in the telling. Dallas Penn’s post regarding his sentiment on this day make me reconsider and post my thoughts about it, felt only a year ago:Where I’m from Father’s Day seemed to be an extension of Mother’s Day or basically Mother’s Day part 2. All my close friends from my childhood grew up in a household similar to mine. Single parent home with ya Mom and no pops. Being raised like this, especially when you’re the oldest child and a male, there are some things your mom can teach you, but you have to learn some things on your own. Little things from how to shave, bigger things like how to function as a man in society. Before I get into that I want to mention the imagery wrapped up with Father’s Day.
All the Macy’s catalogs that advertise Father’s Day specials. Playing ball in the park with their son or standing on the deck of a boat while their family sat lounging in the background. “Get Dad what he really wants” was the tag line they used. I would have resented it, had I cared. Coming from a Mother only home was so common place where I was from, Father’s Day became another day we knew about, but didn’t really celebrate like Flag Day or something of that nature.
And while there were things I needed to learn, and it took me a while to become comfortable in my own skin, eventually I became a man forged by experience, my own hand and the upbringing my mother provided. There are still boys running around who have 10 years on me, but they never came to grips with the reality of their situation. They never evolved into manhood. I looked around and observed, saw traits I found admirable in male figures, mostly fictional characters and adapted them to my persona. A man should be confident, strong, intelligent, firm yet forgiving with a strict code of honor he lives by. Chivalrous and courteous yet with an indomitable will. These traits and more I’d strive to live up to.
Then one day I met my father. I was 19 and he happened to be recently locked up with one of my uncles and was released a short time before my uncle was. My uncle passed word of the encounter to grandma who passed it to my mother who passed it to me. Taking the information my uncle was given I decided to go meet him. I went to the Bronx where he was staying and waited on 138th and Grand Concourse, but I had no idea who to look for so I called the number I was given and a woman, his live in girlfriend at the time I suppose, told me what he was wearing. Then suddenly this guy walks by and I know without a shadow of a doubt that it was him, his face was too familiar. We talked for a while, I found out I had a younger brother who was 10 at the time. (he’d be 18 now) There were no hard feelings. Even my mother who is as honest as they come, told me he wasn’t the best man, but he had a horrible time growing up. Even still I didn’t resent the lack of a Father in my life. I went on later that summer to have a son.
Now I’m subject to the “Happy Father’s Day” wishes from family and friends alike, whether they are myspace comments or IM’s or text messages or phone calls or whatever, but in all honesty, they don’t sit well with me (no disrespect to those who sent their regards, this is just how I feel). As unfamiliar as the image of a Father was when I was growing up and as comfortable as I became just having a mother, There is an image of a Father I have instilled in me now. The Father eating breakfast while the son goes off to school, reading the paper, pats his boy on the head and sends him off. He then leaves only to return at 5 o’ clock with the classic “Honey I’m Home”. Everyone is concerned with how his day went. All these things cliche in the description, doesn’t describe me regarding my son.
My son lives out of state with his mother about 500 miles due south so seeing him on a daily basis doesn’t happen. And while I provide monetary support within the limitations of my budget, sometimes over extending those limitations, it’s progressed to the point where I see him for the summer and on major holidays as it is quite expensive to maintain payments to him and afford to have him come up or myself go down. Can I recall instances where I did what I felt a father should do regarding their son. Of course. Once leaving from Brooklyn to travel 3 hours to PA to pick up a car to drive 14 hours to get him, sleep an hour, drive back, have him for a week, drive him back down, sleep for an hour and drive back up. Would other people have done the same, hopefully. Though I know of guys who live in Brooklyn and don’t bother to see their son in Queens, or dudes who hold out on money so they can get new rims for their truck. True Story. And while my paternal existence is neither extreme of the scenario, I still don’t feel comfortable on Father’s Day. I don’t fit the image that I was raised to believe a Father should be. And while what I do in my life and I do for myself I do for my son, that image still plays heavily on my mind. It is now that I resent never having a Father in my life.
The same way I dream of grand designs, of being able to give my mom a set of keys to a house she doesn’t have to pay a penny for. I dream of the day I can revel in Father’s Day. When I can be down the hall from my son if he has a nightmare, or drop him off at school, or play video games with him and let him win so he can do his “Uh huh.. Oh yeaaaa” victory dance.
However you can plan life out, but life has a way of turning the best laid plans to dust. As it is now I only get that feeling for the summer and on holidays. Luckily Father’s day falls within the time I have him. One day I can hopefully earn within myself the joy felt when he calls me “Dad”.