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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Girls Love Your Daddies

Sometime last year I wrote about my uncle's death and how painful it was for me to realize how significant his presence and passing was to me. It had so much to do with how my stepfather made such a positive impact in my life but upon writing it, I didn't know how that post would impact my biological father so much. I wonder if I sounded as if I was counting him out in my life but that wasn't intention. It is what it is: I connect more with my stepfather's and mother's family. It's mostly out of proximity and the fact that I've lived with them my whole life.

But I have a father that I love and respect.
And interestingly enough, I am one of the very few people in his life he calls family.

My father is a good man. He has his flaws, there were times when I rendered him crazy and illogical. But I now see that a lot of the choices he made in life was out of sheer desire for connection and love. After his first divorce, he has made a whirlwind of choices that I can only explain by *shaking my head*. I can only wonder how many other American born Africans share the same story of their father marrying outside the home or sending inordinate amounts of money "back home" to build a house without their wives consent; or their father taking yearly trips to Ghana to meet his concubine and their love child(ren)... The countless arguments at home with mom about money and manhood. Or seeing their father break his back driving cabs for endless hours or pulling in overtime as a security officer.... My story is similar to these connections, not exactly the same.

But my father is mine regardless of his decision making in the past. Regardless of how it pains my mother to see me care about him so much when she raised to me not care, and clearly understand that he is only useful for financial purpose. Regardless of how the hurt he gave her is supposed to genetically pass on to me since I am a constant reminder of that tumultuous time in her life. I blame no one in that regard; divorce is bitter when children are involved.

But like a compliant child, I didn't care about my father much. Not until it was May 2007 and my father called me from the hospital room complaining about how I don't reach out to him as much as I should. He was hospitalized for suffering a terrible seizure while driving his cab. He didn't know how he ended up in the hospital but by the time he was there, he came to realize that he had a large tumor growing in his brain. I was busy thinking about calling my dad that week but I never did. Not to know that he was suffering and he was alone. He  eventually underwent two brain surgeries and the tumor is at rest though he occasionally falls in from time to time. After that heart-breaking call, I decided to move in with my dad to help him around the house. I was 20 and could barely cook and I barely knew him on a personal level but that brain tumor changed the course of our relationship and drew me to a man that I learned was more than a monthly child support provider. I had to make the decision to care and it was the best decision I made for my personal peace and for his overall lifestyle.


I have not one picture with my father as a child. Not one. I used to wonder if he was ever really present in my childhood but I know he was. I've memorized the story he tells me about almost missing my premature birth at the hospital or how I used to eat Kix Cereal out the pot with him. Or how I almost fell out of the car while I was riding in his cab at age 4. Or how my appetite for yam comes from him. These are the only memories I have about my father prior to his early separation in my life. That and the days I would wait by the window to see his car pull up into my building complex on Sundays. And the days he would give me spelling words on the drive home. And the numerous copies of "The Washington Post" we would read together. Or the memories of him telling me how much he loves me, something that seems to difficult for most African parents to freely say. Our friendship has allowed him to want life in spite of his current tribulations. Our friendship has inspired him to desire after God's heart, something I did not see coming!

But today is the last day I will see him for a while for he is moving to Ghana indefinitely. He has spent 30 years in this country chasing the American dream only to realize it was a hard reality. The cry for home has been ringing loudly in his ear and it has come time to say goodbye to long work hours and the depression of living alone.

I'll miss my daddy though he will be back to visit in the following year. But at least I have more than just mixed memories with him, I finally have pictures to start a collection with.