Many Black Families Don’t Have Dads

encouragement, grief, oevercoming obastaclesGrowing up all I had was my family on my mother’s side.  I know no one on my father’s side of the family.  Who am I kidding, hell, I don’t even know my father.  I grew up without him only having my mother.  It’s nothing different from most black families.  Single mothers raising kids alone.  Well, in my case it was a little different because my brothers and sister knew their dad and their dad’s family, leaving me with only a mom.  Each of us has a different dad.  That was cool, but sometimes I wondered what it would be like with a dad.  To this I still wonder, even though dad is home with mom now.  She said they got married.  I tried to reach out to and write a letter.  I even sent him a birthday card.  I’m still waiting for a reply.  So, I guess I still don’t have a dad.  She said he is a retired cop, no less.  He was married and didn’t tell her and then when she got pregnant, he told her and she ended the relationship.  She almost ended the pregnancy, too.  She told me that when she came to see me on my birthday this year.  That hurt. But back then? That was just the way it was. He left both of us.  She never told me who my father was when I was growing up.  That’s pretty bad, isn’t it?

I really hate this because some things I don’t want to remember.  Growing up, my favorite cousin was my Aunt Ann’s son.  His name was Keithy.  He passed away in 1996 from sickle cell anemia. Since I had epilepsy, we were the sick ones in the family.  He broke my heart so bad.  We used to follow each other. I didn’t matter he was older than me by six or seven years. We enjoyed each others company.  We had each others back.  We played together all the time. He loved to go fishing. I would go with him.  There were times we caught nothing, but we still loved to go.  We sometimes had our days when we were mad at each other.  But it didn’t take long for us to make up.  We had lots of fun. There were also times I couldn’t visit him because he was too sick, and that made me mad.  Mad that he was sick.  There were times he went to visit his dad’s family.  One time when he came home from his dads he was sick.  I went to visit with him one day and when we were playing he just started crying.  My aunt came in to help him and called my mom to come and take me home.  While I was waiting  his pain got worse.  I could hear his cries for help.  It hurt so much to see him like that.  His sickness got real bad so I ended up having to stay home a lot.  I then started leaving home.  I felt empty as far as friends.  So I would leave sometimes just to get away.  It got to the point where I would leave in the middle of the night to try to fill in that blank space.  Well, I left home one too many times at night.  My mom got worried about me and placed me in a children’s hospital.  I didn’t like it there.

I don’t remember how long I was there.  I do remember them letting me call home one day.  I remember explaining to my mom that I didn’t like this place and I began to cry.  I also remember the day that really broke my heart.  But I started out happy that day because my mom came and got me out of the hospital and took me to my aunt’s house.  There was a lot of people there.  My mom took me to the back room where everybody was and she told me that my cousin died.  I broke down.  My old brother grabbed me and told me not to cry, but we both cried.  We went to view him and he looked so different.  I remember touching him and asking my mom why he was so cold.  Then we buried him.

( Sonni’s note:  Jamie was in prison long before he actually was in one.  It’s easier to have hindsight than it is to have foresight. He arrived in this world broken and never had a fair shake.  His cousin died 19 years ago, but it could have been yesterday.  He had a lot of obstacles to overcome that he is still working on today.  There have been many lessons learned.  But I believe it was after his cousin died that the road in his life took a sharp left turn.)