Ah, Father’s Day. A day that meant nothing for me until five years ago when I finally got up the nerve to contact my biological dad:
Afrocity: Are you (insert name)?
Afrocity: Did you ever know a (insert my mother’s name)?
Dad: (long pause) Yes, I remember her.
Afrocity: (pause) Well this is difficult to say but I think I may be your daughter…
Afrocity: You were with her between 1968 and 1970-
Dad: I know who you are…I never knew if you were a girl or boy…I have always wondered what happened to you.
What happened to me was decades without a father which meant decades of me hating Father’s Day. Watching episodes of TV sitcoms about poorly chosen ties and mugs. I never had to worry about those things. I also never had a true male presence in my life. Sure there was my older brother but the military kept us separated from one another. I was not alone, there were few in my community that had fathers and if they did, the relationship was always not of the Brady Bunch sort. Let’s face it, I grew up with a negative impression of African American men. Now here I am with a father and a real reason to celebrate Father’s Day.
So can somebody please tell me why I have failed to send him a Father’s Day card for the past four years? Oh, I have bought them, and they are all addressed and ready to slide into the mailbox. Something stops me from sending them.
By the way, it is hard as hell to go to a card shop and buy a Father’s Day card for a man I have known for only five years. Pictures of little girls with their dads teaching them how to ride their first bicycle. That is not my relationship with my father. Cards with sappy “You’ve always been there for me” lines, just don’t work for us. Then there are those $7.00 cards with bells, whistles and something covered in felt that moves when you pull a tab. I can’t do those either. My mother loved those huge expensive greeting cards. She would open the envelope, look at the card and without reading the inscription inside, she would turn the card over and look to see how much it cost. Once she passed away, I liberated myself from buying those gaudy displays of fake affection. The card with the cheap silver-plated heart shaped charm will never get a glance from Afrocity again. We can safely say that I will never get my father a card that is more than $3.00. He will also never get a card from me with a $100 bill in it.
Yes, I gave my mother money and quite often. I paid her rent many times and so did my brother. We supported her in her later years…well in the early years too. Dad has asked me for money before but he gave it back. He has given me money before $100 for my birthday once, a broom for my new apartment, and a cordless phone which I still use. The phone was his first gift to me and a symbol of our new relationship.
“Dad is just a phone call away.”
That is what he said five years ago. The reality is that our relationship has been on again, off again. Now it is on again and here I am with another Father’s Day card that I have yet to send. What is this mental block? I just can’t mail the damn card…I will call him today, maybe. If I get a chance. I am on the road and as you can see I was in Washington, DC yesterday. This week I have spent time with our founding fathers. Saturday was rainy and hot, I look awful in these pictures. as I was doing a lot of walking and sweating. This was my first trip to Washington, DC that was not a layover or a quickie. The Library of Congress was the only place I had visited until now. Washington DC, was all abuzz with fathers. In fact there was a Father’s Day rally at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday. By the time I climbed half the steps to the memorial (I cheated and took the elevator), the rally was mostly over but many fathers still remained with their children, playing on the steps.
Fathers Implored at Rally to Fulfill Duties
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Several hundred people gathered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday to issue a national call for fathers to become more committed to their children, rallying through occasional downpours and bursts of lightning.
The event, organized by the National Partnership for Community Leadership, drew men and their families from across the country. They got an early start on Father’s Day by recognizing the responsibilities that come with the holiday. Participants said they came to show unity in their pledges to be strong fathers and pay homage to the national holiday, which dates to 1909.
“Sometimes, we emphasize the negative,” said Jeffrey Johnson, president of the Washington-based organization. “But we need to presume that most fathers want to be the best fathers they can be. And we believe that had we not lifted that up, a hundred years of Father’s Day would have passed us up.”
The rally included speeches from dignitaries, performances and a video message from President Obama that encouraged men throughout the country to take responsibility for their children and be more engaged in their lives.
Most participants were African American, and each performance and speaker was followed by rallying cries reminiscent of the 1995 Million Man March in Washington.
The event was an effort to counter the facts about fathers — or the lack thereof.
Recent census figures show that more than 25 million children live in homes without fathers. Nearly three in 10 white children live without their fathers, compared with two of three black children and four of 10 Latino children, according to the figures.
Those figures fueled the calls for action at the event.
At the Lincoln Memorial, one little boy stood looking at the massive seated figure of our 16th president.
“I wish he was not shot,” The little boy said. He and his father were African.
“What?” his father asked.
“I said, I wish nobody shot him.”
The boy’s father and I looked at one another and laughed. I smiled at the boy and joked, “He would be dead now anyway.”
The father and laughed even harder.
“Yes” his father said. “Lincoln would be dead two times over by now.”
This was a great moment indeed. The father and son left leaving me with Lincoln. It was hot and I was tired. Afrocity was missing home and her cats and her father.
Autographed Letter Signed,