Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Thoughts & Musings


I love this blogging thing. I really do because I get to tell so many of my stories and lay my life down in print for further review.

Yesterday, I had a quite amazing Father's Day. My son-in-law's parents invited my wife and I over to their house for a "dinner for the fathers", if you will. Of course, my daughter and son-in-law were there with our grandchildren, which made it extra special for me. In addition, my son-in-law's brother, his wife, and their two small children were there... and, we even got a chance to meet the his wife's parents because they were there too.

We had a delicious meal, prepared by my son-in-law's family, which included a nice garden salad, string beans, potato salad, rice and beans, baked chicken, ox tails, apple or cheese cake for dessert, and my wife and I brought assorted flavors of Sparkling Cider for the beverage. We had a really nice time, reuniting with our extended family and getting to know my daughter's in-laws. Everyone enjoyed the meal, good conversation, the baseball game on TV, and the kids had a ball.

It's funny how your mind will wander when you're eating and you realize you've missed the baseball game, the sixth loss in a row for your defending world champion baseball team! I thought of all of the hats that I have worn over the years... husband, father, grandfather, etc. and an insignificant individual who made my mind up for me as to just what type of man I was going to be. I will call him "Sam" and leave it at that.

When I was about 15 or 16 years old, Sam, was 4 or 5 years older than me. He was out of school and had a real cool car. All of the guys my age idolized Sam and envied his car. It was a vintage Corvette Stingray and he kept that car in mint condition. Don't even look like you were going to lean on it and ask for a ride... that second seat was reserved for the ladies!

My mother sensed that I kind of idolized this guy because I used to talk about him a lot... well, not a lot but enough. She had already "peeped his card" and said, "He ain't nothin' but a jitterbug and he's nobody to pattern yourself after." My mom called everybody she didn't like a "jitterbug". Today, that word could mean what we would call a thug to a ne'er-do-well in general so, I didn't take too much stock in what she said at the point. It turns out, my Mom was right about this guy and I just didn't see it then.

Sam had a girlfriend, who I will call "Tall and Gorgeous". The old men used to watch her walk down the street and say, "Now, that's a fine tall drink of water!" And, she was. She and Sam were the equivalent of Beyonce and Jay-Z today. He wasn't really much to look at as looks go but, he had that fly car, he was working somewhere, and he had a little money in his pockets. So, we reasoned, that was reason enough for her to be with him.

Late in the summer of 1974 Tall and Gorgeous became very, very pregnant with Sam's baby and his attitude toward her began to change. They could frequently be heard arguing out on the street and even though I knew there was no way that my Mom could know what they were arguing about, she would say to my father, "Yeah, see... he done got that girl "in trouble" and now he don't want nothing to do with her. I knew he was no good." But, that was his business as far as I was concerned.

I was never "allowed" to be in the 55th street projects but, of course, I made my way to them. I was seeing some girl, nameless and faceless now, who lived in the projects. I always made sure not to stay in there too long and to watch my surroundings when leaving. My mom always had "friends from church" (who I didn't know) who always seemed to "see" me somewhere I wasn't supposed to be. To this day, I don't know who these people were but, they were dead on about seeing me in such-and-such a place. Anyway, I was tipping out of there one evening and I saw Sam and another young lady who obviously lived there arguing. She was pregnant too and from the way he was talking, this baby was his too. Nowadays, this type of thing is no big deal but, in 1974, there was still a little stigma to it.

Sam saw me and offered me a ride home. I was careful to have him let me out a block from my house because I didn't want my mom to see me with him. I think he understood. He bitched and complained about how both of these girls "had nothing better to do than to get pregnant and that they weren't getting a dime from him". I asked him why didn't he use some protection. He looked at me like I was crazy and said that he didn't like condoms and birth control was the woman's responsibility, not his. You ever hear something crazy come out of someone's mouth, you look at them, and realize that you never really knew them and now, for the first time, you're actually seeing them? This was how I felt, when I listened to this guy talk. Any idolization I had for this guy went out of the window right there. At that split second, I concluded that Sam was an asshole and never looked at him the same again. Now, flash forward to the 1980's...

Both of Sam's sons were born about a week apart in 1975. He kept his secret for close to 10 years, married someone else, and had a daughter with his wife. In 1985 or '86, both boys with the exact same name met up in elementary school, got to talking (I guess), and went home and told their mamas. Sam hadn't paid child support for either son in a while so, they took him to court. I read that he was arrested and made to pay back child support for both boys. His wife had no idea that he had not one but, two outside children. She was not the co-parenting type so, she left him.

Well, I have run into Sam in the streets from time to time and he is the most miserable person you'd ever want to meet. In that one moment, listening to him in the car that night in 1974, I made up my mind that I was never going to have multiple kids by multiple women all over the map and, if I did father a child, I was going to be responsible for it. I wasn't going to be like him.

I haven't been a saint. I'm far, far, far from it but, I wasn't the type of "man" Sam turned out to be. I don't have the perfect family either... Who does? But, while I was eating dinner, I looked at my wife and I looked from side-to-side at the kids and I felt good for the first time in a long time.

My mom was right on that call. She was right on a number of calls and she was a far better judge of people than I ever was. Even though this is about Father's Day, I'm glad that I got the chance to tell my mom how many times she was right and how she shaped me as a husband, father, and man.

23 comments:

BorednTalkative said...

That was a great story. I'm glad you had a great Fathers Day.

Toni said...

Wow..That was an awesome testimony Keith!

Angie B. said...

Glad you had a nice Father's day and big up's to your mom.

Sunflower said...

A wonderful story,glad you saw the light about that guy.

Lisa said...

I'm so glad you were able to see through that guy...He could have been a bad influence.

Halo said...

Another great post. You seem as though you came from a good family.
You're just carrying on the traditions you were taught.

Vanessa said...

What a touching story Keith...and how good of you and perceptive to see at a young impressionable age a guy that was going in the wrong direction. A lot of guys would have sucked what he said in.

Cheryl said...

Heyy Keith, a lot of young guys get caught up in the mis-information that guys like "Sam" put out...You were one of the lucky ones that did not..That's a good thing. If he's miserable now, it's his own fault.

Brenda said...

I loved this story...So glad you had a nice Father's Day.

James Perkins said...

There was a guy in my neighborhood just like "Sam" that I too kind of idolized. Justlike you I found out that he wasn't all he was cracked up to be.

Simon Bastion said...

Great story, but that is to be expected. Glad you had a nice Father's day.

Grover Tha Playboy said...

All true playas use "protection",It's crazy not to.
Dude was a fool.

Jazzy said...

You looked like you really enjoyed the grands Fam!

Captain Jack said...

Your Grand's look adorable Keith..
You are so lucky. Glad you had a great Father's Day.

Sean said...

We've all known a "Sam" or too Keith. It takes an intelligent individual to see through their BS.

Swaggie said...

There are players and then there are people who THINK they are players who get played..That sounds like your boy in a nutshell.

Tate2 said...

Good Post Fam !

Beautifully.Conjured.Up said...

Great story! I think many times in life we meet people who influence us in various ways, and I'm glad you took this experience to make you a better man.

Cute picture *smile.*

A Free Spirit Butterfly said...

That's what I call a Kodak moment. Really great smiles and a really Great story!

Love, peace and blessings!

Thoughts of a Southern gal said...

Great story. I love hearing about blending families. My family is the same way.

Opinionated Diva said...

awww.great pic. happy belated father's day!

wow @ that story. I will never understand how people can just detach themselves from the lives of their children...it honestly puzzles me how he just walked away and never even told his wife about them. just sad

CareyCarey said...

We again find ourselves on similar streets. Of course you've read my story and although the ending is not the same, I too had people in my hood that I wanted to emulate. To some degree I did ...and paid a price. You are going to have to stop writng my story or visa-versa.

Your story was very well told.

Check with me before you tell another of you stories. We might be able to cut down on a little typing time. Or ....co-written by Keith & CareyCarey, to old fools that learned their lessons the hard way.

Was there a sitcom called "momma knows best". My mother called the Sam's of the world "Jacklegs". Unfortunatly I put on a few of Sams clothes *lol*.

Angel said...

As with all your stories I enjoyed that one, and was pleased to see at such a young age you saw that man for what he was.

I'm glad that you can look around you and see that your life is filled with such beauty and joy, I only hope that my life will be as fulfilling when I get older.




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