He usually returns a text within a couple of hours. By 3:00PM , my text message box was still empty.
Yep, jilted by text.
(UPDATE: I owe my readers a correction. It seems my father did call to thank me for the text message. I just neglected to check my voice mail. He said he “loved me”)
Sometimes, I feel like maybe my mother’s life would have been better had he not met this man. Perhaps she would have went back to school had she not chose to bring me into this world. She could have married a decent man, lived in a nice house. My birth put her on welfare for the rest of our lives. What good was that?
Mother had a son already who was 15 years old. Three more years to go and she would have been Scott free. But she chose to have me because she felt that “two wrongs don’t make a right”.
Those were her words exactly when I asked her why didn’t she abort me. She made the appointment but canceled at the last moment. She chose my life over her happiness.
Her troubles began when she chose to sleep with my dad. When she chose not to take the birth control pill that day. Those were the wrongs, she felt. Dumb choices. Not the baby.
In a jolt of an instant, she decided to keep me, let me live- however you want to look at it. In 1968, abortions were performed illegally. Lots of doctors in Chicago would perform the medical procedure “under the examination table” . Had my mother chose to go ahead with it, she would not have been met by pro-life advocates or sheltered by pro-choice advocates.
Just another young black woman, getting on a Madison Ave. bus, riding to the Northside. She would give a man $300 and come back home after a couple of hours without much fanfare. On her way back to the Westside, she may have pressed her forehead against the bus window; looking at the little girls playing double-dutch rope in the alleyway; wondering if I was a girl or boy. Or perhaps relieved that she just gave a child that never existed, the chance to escape the frustration of growing up fatherless. Her battle was private. The abortion would have been private. The secret between herself, my grandmother (who gave her the money for the abortion), and “Dr. X”.
A news story on simple license plates in Massachusetts prompted me to remember my mother and her choice of life:
Teenage pregnancy has plagued the African American community to the point of being a crisis situation. “
If you saw a suffering creature, wouldn’t you put it out of it’s misery?” asked my pro-choice friend. “Those black girls need to know that having an abortion is a lot cheaper than raising a child on welfare…Look at you and what you went through.”
“Yes, look at me,” I answered.
My face must have communicated some signs of cynicism.
“No, you are an exception,” she came back. “How many kids actually escape and get a post-grad degree? One in a million?”
“I don’t know,” I told her. ” but I see nothing wrong with women being educated by both sides of the debate (pro-life and pro-choice). Each side acts as though it is somehow threatened by the other…”The Vagina Wars”.
“My vagina is mine and yours is yours,” My friend informed me.
“Right. That is why I am pro-choice. However,” I continued. “My mind is mine and yours is yours. When it comes to propaganda and protests, let the woman decide who to listen to- if she is a woman and not a 10th grader.”
My friend shook her head. “See you are double talking again, ” she accused. “You cannot take both sides of the issue.”
“Why not?” I asked. ” I am pro-choice. Life is a choice. I would choice life but when it comes to other women, I think they should make their own choice. Meanwhile, if a woman goes to have an abortion and gets counseled by both pro-choice advocates and pro-life advocates, I see nothing wrong with it…Or a billboard, license plates, football advertisements like Tim Tebow’s”
“That was fucked up!” she exclaimed. ” I cannot believe that you are for that Afrocity.”
For my friend, everything about this conservation was about someone being right but what if we both were?
” Pro-life puts out an ad,” I explained. “Pro-choice puts out an ad too. Free country.”
“It is about influence and confusing girls.”
“Then influence them to practice abstinence or not get pregnant at all. That is the mistake.”
“What about medical reasons for mom’s health?” she asked. “What about that Tebow mother who risked her life?”
“Yes, and the doctor was wrong and then pro-choices went all psycho in an attempt to discredit the Tim Tebow’s mother.”
“So you agree with the ad? How is that pro-choice?”
“What is to agree with? She continued with a pregnancy and the outcome was a great person. What is your fear that pregnant women considering abortion may actually see it and….keep the baby? How awful!” I said lifting my eyebrows. “For shame.”
My friend sighed. I was a lost conservative cause but I am pro-choice so how did that happen?
I believe that pro-choice advocates have a problem realizing that deciding to continue with a pregnancy is a choice just as terminating a pregnancy is a choice.
My mother made the choice in 1968 all on her own. She did not see a license plate or Superbowl advertisement. Had she aborted me, she would have paid in cash with the money my grandmother made cleaning houses. Not government money.
It was a private matter.
A private war.
And life won with the help of no one.
Autographed Letter Signed,