Living and Lessons Learned

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Shante Yong

"Father and Daughter" by Shante Young

I heard that the eyes are the way to the soul. If that’s true, then I love watching  from my children’s perspective the way that their father loves them. Through their dark brown pools are reflections of love, patience and understanding. With my daughter, I see how he has empowered her. She’s a confident toddler; she lives fearlessly constantly looking for new challenges. With my sons, I see guidance and the makings of great men. He doesn’t see me, but I watch them interact regularly; I’m in awe of his ability to inspire them just by being himself.

I didn’t grow up with a father in my home and I’m not envious of my children for having this normalcy in their lives. I’m overwhelmed with parental joy that they get to experience something I never did. And I’m grateful that my better half and I have created a lasting family love that will be passed on to our children for generations to come.

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Here’s an excerpt from my ever-evolving memor….still untitled.

“He really needs to talk with you. I think he’s sick. Please call him.” A telephone number appeared on the screen.  I read the email several times, each time mouthing the words silently. I recently received a message on Facebook from my cousin, she said that my biological father wanted to speak with me – he was interested in my well-being.

Why on Earth does this man want to talk with me? I know nothing about him. There were a few short interactions when I was about 2 or 3 years old. And I distinctively remember spending the night with him when I was about 4 – I can still see him shaving in the bathroom. But his presence wasn’t consistent, my complete experience could be described as transitory at best. He sort of just “showed up” in sporadic moments in my life, each time making promises to me that he never kept. And each time I believed him.

What could he possibly know about me? What could he possibly want with me? Then, as if I were possessed, my fingers deliberately tapped my keyboard and the words “Okay, I’ll call him” appeared on the screen.

I took a few days to mull over the potential of our conversation. I sat in “betweeness” for a while, not quite ready to make the move but knowing that I needed to do something.

“Just let him do all the talking,” Quinton said. “He’s probably thinking the same thing you are.”

I starred at my husband. I was a lucky woman, I found a good one.

“But why now?” I started to feel nausea and slightly irritated. “What does he want?”

“Who says that he wants something? The man just might want a relationship with you. Maybe he’s ready to be in your life.”

“But what if I’m not ready? I don’t know what it means to have a father.”

“It’s too late for him to father you, he may just want to be your friend,” Quinton concluded. “Call. See where it leads but stop analzying this – just call.”

Analyzing was right, my mind raced. I thought about the promises he made to me over the years. How each time, I felt so hopeful that maybe that time would be the time he kept his word. And when he didn’t, I felt rejected and that dismissal wreaked havoc on my self-esteem as a young girl.

I thought about my childhood friends that had fathers in their homes – there were many. Their interaction with their fathers seemed natural. On all accounts, my friends had devoted, caring, nurturing fathers. These men were personally and professionally successful. I wasn’t jealous. I was confused. I just didn’t understand it entirely. And the resentment I began feeling for my own father turned into shame and guilt.

Wasn’t I good enough?

And then at some point, I began to wear it proudly like badge: “no, my father doesn’t live with us.”

——————–

More to follow…

*name changed

6 thoughts on “Living and Lessons Learned

  1. Cynthia,

    You’re off to a good start. This missing father bit is something we have in common and I understand the awkwardness of that whole socialization part – trying to find words that have never been communicated. Super weird.

    Keep plugging away.

  2. My father died regretting not being there for his family. (He told my aunt on his deathbed.) My first two scripts/novels have a father character who’s either missing or not there often… I wish you the best with your memoir, Cynthia. A lot of people will relate.

  3. Fabulous start and powerful. Keep writing your way home, Cynthia! On a personal note, my own father and I might have got on very well, if it hadn’t been for my mother (how’s that for an opening line!?), and if it hadn’t been for the fact that I’ve always felt a little (sometimes a lot!) like the ugly duckling, feeling forever as if I don’t fit in…

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