I had two Fathers.
No, this was not a situation where both of my fathers were lovers nor was I an adopted child to two men who wanted one of their own. One father was the one who taught me how to bait my own fishing pole, drive a manual-shift car, fire a shotgun into an open country field and hold my own when it came to self-defense. My other father had shed the importance of being sure I selected the right man to be in a relationship with. The right man to father my future children with and most importantly, how not to settle for one who did not display the actions of a real man, even though he was born with a penis and testicles between his legs. To a woman continuing to blossom and grow into her own, both fathers instilled great gems that I would be able to carry on throughout the rest of my life. They were my versions of true love!
My first father took his role on when I was only about nine months old. He took care of me and provided not only for one, but a total of five including his own biological son. He was loving yet aggressive. He was caring yet determined that I would not grow up relying on a man to do even the simplest things for me, such as changing a flat tire or standing up for myself when challenged by an egotistical racist individual. If there were any signs of foul play, he either addressed it or walked out with what he considered rightfully his. He didn’t play. I remember when we lived in projects where the leader of a very known gang up north, resided two doors over from us. It was late out and the sky was dark. This was the time when most of the gang activity and drug dealings took place. His Cadillac sat outside of our kitchen window, parked along the curb.
A group of local jackasses figured what better place to rest their ass, than along the side of his car. When my father caught wind of this, I watched as he opened the front door and demanded that they moved their asses somewhere else other than on his car. Was there any commotion or backlash? No. My father wasn’t affiliated with any sets yet his presence alone got the respect from even the leader himself. We never had a care in the world when it came to fights or peer pressure in getting my older brothers to join. I could also recall a time when we lived within the inner city. When times were rough for us financially, we would go down to the store and get some items on credit. One day, in particular, I went along with him to pick up some things for breakfast. You know, eggs, bread, cheese, and bacon. The owner, for some odd reason, this time, refused to allow us to take them with the promise to pay for them at a later time. All I remember was my father telling the owner how fucked up he was and added a little truth serum about the owner and a young lady around the way (the owner was married at that time), and we both walked out with our breakfast in hand. Was it the right thing to do? Of course not, but he was not going to allow another man’s ego, to stop his family from eating.
My father passed away on September 20, 1997, at the age of 41, from a stroke followed by a heart attack when I was fourteen years of age. At this point, I decided to locate my biological father. I had become so accustomed to having a father figure present and even though I was brought up with no cares in the world, I was alone at this point. Not only did I desire some form of relationship with my father, but more so, a relationship with siblings whom I had grown up knowing of their existence – especially sisters. To hear all the time how you had girls out there who resembled you and not be able to see them for yourself, bothered me. My attempts to reach out to my father were turned away numerous times for his own reasons but this didn’t stop me.
The day came when I finally had the opportunity to meet one, a younger brother on my father’s side and from there, the curiosity grew stronger. After a few years, I finally was able to meet the rest of them and I felt complete. As a woman with a young child, this eased my soul. Even if I was never to establish the same type of relationship with my father as they had growing up, just having the moments where I could sit down and talk to him about life itself, was more than enough for me.
From there, I found myself communicating more with my siblings as well as with my father. I would go over to his house every Friday when I got off from work and just converse with him. The topics were not about anything in particular but just talking. This was our time to make up for the life I lived without his presence. He would share with me his feelings about relationships and the prominence in making sure I did not settle just for having a man. Being smart and not just going based on what my body may desire, was the key. I could recall sitting on the stoop below him as he lit his cigar and smoked his tobacco when a male friend of him approached the house. They exchanged small talk and then the guy questioned my identity in a dallying manner. “That’s my daughter right here,” he acknowledged as he read the guy clear as day. ‘Oh, I’m sorry – no disrespect,” the man replied before retreating.
This behavior was what I had grown accustomed to. A man standing up for me not just as my sense of security, but as my father. I didn’t shun him for not being there for me or keeping me away from my siblings because I knew this was something he had lived with my entire life. I forgave him. He was my father and even though I did not agree with why he did what he did, I never questioned him. I just enjoyed the time we shared together. My father passed away on May 6, 2016, at the age of 82.
Having two fathers to me, was greater than having one because the both of them valued the impact in helping me recognize the values of life itself. They both went about it in their own ways and this is something that I would never forget the love they shared for me. Standing up for myself and what may be right or wrong, placing family before anything else and bringing to light the importance of self–value, are all things every young girl should be educated on, especially when it’s coming from a father figure. Not all children with two fathers are the product of a same-sex relationship – they’re just significant in the eyes of two individuals instead of one.
Rest in Peace Dads!
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