Memory and Father’s Day
Today, while absorbing the beginning chapters of Joe Jimenez’s Bloodline, I asked
myself about the grief that accompanies each Father’s Day since the loss of my
grandfather in 2009. Days prior, I got into an impassioned shouting match—I would not
call it a debate—with my cousin’s boyfriend. Anxiety-ridden about a job he hates and his
own non-relationship with his father, he opined that I am clueless about being
abandoned by a father and disquieted from a continual lack of understanding from
loved ones. Then, he later admitted that maybe he doesn’t have all the answers.
The first chapters of Bloodline are like wax. They are sticky, ruddy, and tinged with
melancholy. And they evidence a teenager’s observation and consternation. Some adults
never escape the poison of their “bloodline”. Ambiguous, that’s what my relationship
with my father is. And even though I love and accept my father’s peaks and valleys, I
must grieve while forgiving and accepting the facts.
Father’s Day is Sunday, and yet as my father lives… he functions as just some passer-
by on the street of my life. If my life ever were a film, he would be the extra that got his
money and vanished, unseen and unheard. He’s not really my role-model. He’s nil on
emotional support. Most times he can barely be a friend. As The Veronicas sang: “He’s
everything I’m not.”
While I was in the shower this morning, I reminisced about Hilary Duff’s Dignity
album, the songs “Stranger”, “I Wish”, and “Dignity” danced in my head. Father and I
have but one thing in common; we’re taskmasters with denial, posters of regret, and
bastions of guilt.
Most urgently, we both stand up as concrete columns of strength. Dad saw his
66th birthday last Saturday, with the pomp, circumstance, and spectacle that 3 to 500
dollars might purchase. I wearily emerged from my peaceful, purposeful post at the
library. I stood for the pictures and sang while the cake was sectioned off. I smiled
while candles were blown out. And still, I thought of yet another car that father still
couldn’t fix for me. Green, the Dodge Caravan, that my father gave me that
subsequently never made it onto the highway, even after I received my driver’s
license. Color! Maybe, that is what’s missing from my dad constant pangs of guilt.
My grandfather was my “authentic” dad. I remember struggling through high
school and watching my grandfather shuffle —arthritis, cane, and all—into an old
Ford LTD to drive me to Tara High School in Baton Rouge over the summer because
he believed that I was just facing trauma and surely I’d graduate.I remember sitting
on his bed day after day chatting about Geraldo Rivera, Westinghouse, and Time
Warner’s old money. I remember him reminding me every day to go easy on my real
father because he knew that his son was terribly unreasonable and yet continued to
hope for his growth, even when the growth failed to show up.
That’s what true Christians do. They hope patiently. As the fight persists, they pray
with fervor, they sow in tears, they reap as laborers.
It will have been nine years in two months and two days.
My grandfather lives on with me. His memory is still etched in my mind. I’m still
learning to love mercy, like Prophet Micah. I’m still learning “to do justice”. It’s ironic
that my name, just like my father’s means “to be strong” I’m strong, but not strong
enough to lie to myself forever.
And yet, my grandfather still echoes back to me: Be humble, keep being humble!”
To be strong without any equitable reason is arrogance and pride, impenetrable.
We both, my father and I, are walls. But being a man of justice like in Micah 6:8, is
about being able to admit when you’ve made mistakes. I’ve yet to see my father take
his wall down to admit much of his errors. And even when he admits them, he has a
wealth of people ready to pull their blinders on, and coddle him much like people
coddle a rancorous bull that might destroy everything.
I, for years was stained by my father’s pride. I was afraid to acknowledge the
truth about my Cerebral Palsy because I believed accepting it meant acknowledging
that I was “counterfeit”.
And I had built a wall between my authentic self and the self my family saw. What is
right or equitable about denying what’s already been medically verified for several
years? What’s equitable about my father’s constant favoring two other children to
support an image that’s more palatable (for him) than the facts?
I don’t know. But my love for my dad is patient and kind, even hopeful in the face of
adversity. It’s just like Paul’s letter to Corinth. 60 to 100 dollars does not erase the
reams of records that show laundry baskets of un-answered phone calls, un-returned
letters, and un-reciprocated affections.I got over not being good enough. I majored in
literature, English, understanding that pictures of forgotten and neglected vehicles
serve as the perfect imagery of the real effects of stagnation, envy and denial.
When reading the vaunted “Love” passage, we skip over verse 5: the part that talks
about thinking no evil. We even skip the part about endurance, or how love isn’t
thrilled about aggressively unfair situations. (1 Corinth 13:5-7)
Before readers tell me that no one is perfect, I admit that I have my own demons. But
as I face those demons, I’ve got common sense. No one needs a four- year study in
literature and rhetoric to see what occurs when a living person refuses to do what’s
I am fine. I’m not weird, crazy, or hurt. I’m just wondering how far the rouse will go,
before it is finally found out. I majored in literature because when the people we
love make the choice to be disconnected from us we must have a respite. My respite
is my colleagues, my literature, my writing, and prominently Jesus Christ. He gave
me the desire of my heart, to be a communicator, an analyst, and an orator. And my
story is still being written, even as the fake media continue in denials, decisions, and
depictions that render to me as desperate.
The funny thing about memory is: Even when years of reprogramming try to
block it out, places, people, and things refocus it forward. Because where the
Holy Spirit abides is freedom, from stealing, killing, and destroying.
The truth always wins.