Sunday, June 20, 2010

happy father's day, daddy

Dad, it appears your lifelong theory about the world going to hell was dead-on

i can't even begin to say how much i miss my daddy.

yes, that's right. i'm an african-american woman with parents who were married to each other for nearly 50 years. my daddy left this world last year at the age of 92. no man worked harder than he did to provide for his family. back in the day, he held seven union cards. seven! i don't know anyone with more than two. my mother still lives in the house that they raised us in - all five of us. a big house, in cascade heights, in the ATL. and she's still running their real estate business, singlehandedly.

it makes me sick to my stomach, the things that everything in the media continually feeds us about black men and black fathers. while it's horrible that this garbage gets ingested worldwide, what's especially disturbing is that we've started to believe it about ourselves. we can't even make movies or tv shows about decent hardworking black fathers. absolutely everyone thinks they're unicorns. no one believes they're real.

so let me set the record straight, on my end: i had a daddy, a granddaddy and a great-granddaddy -- all of them, hard-working, sober, responsible, dedicated, church-going family men. and i know i'm not the only black person out here who can say that. the glass is hardly half empty.

today would have been a day of fun for him. he would have been celebrated in church, with a special service for fathers, surrounded by people congratulating him and wishing him well. and then of course a nice big dinner , surrounded by family, and then his easy chair and phone calls from near and far all day long from everyone that knows him, and opening all kinds of gifts and yelling at the grandkids and telling everyone what to do. the remote would be in his hand like a scepter, and he'd wave it around for dramatic effect whenever he would punctuate anything he'd have to say. and he had plenty to say. about everything.

if i couldn't be there, i would have sent a huge bouquet of flowers and something permanent and cool, something that he could touch and say, my only daughter gave this to me for father's day, like a tie clip. if i were actually there, i'd make dinner and serve it to everyone dutifully -- and in the middle of the meal, daddy would turn to my mother and say, in a stage whisper, our only daughter is serving us dinner, in this really astonished overly dramatic can-you-believe-it voice. like it's this massively huge thing that's not really happening right in front of him but it is. like it's something i never did when i came home. it's not like it never happened at all, ever. me making dinner and serving it and cleaning up afterwards was practically my entire childhood. i suppose he expected me to stay in that kitchen, making his oxtails and rice, until marriage put me in someone else's. but that was not to be.

it feels like i'm going to grieve him for the rest of my life. who knows. i probably will.

i'm actually okay with it, if that's what happens. everyone handles these things differently. i really don't know how else to be. besides, i am told that such traumatic things can sometimes trigger massive creative explosions. it makes a lot of sense, that something truly beautiful could eventually come out of so much sorrow.

No comments: