Redefining Fatherless Sons

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Me and Dad 2Recently, Oprah has done a few shows on “Fatherless Sons” and “Daddyless Daughters”. As I listened to the panelists give advice and the audience speak on their situations, it made me think about my relationship with my deceased father.

If you read my interview with my mother, (posted August 31. 2013), I was raised by a single mother who was raising five children.  My three sisters and one brother have the same the father and I have a different father. I cannot remember having much interaction with my father growing up and honestly I don’t think I thought about it much. My childhood centered around my mother, sisters, brother and relatives on my mothers’ side. I guess the quote is true: “You can’t miss what you never had”.

Not until my late twenty’s/early thirties, did I really start thinking about my father. To my mother’s credit, I had never heard negative things about my father and I never asked; therefore, I just went on with my childhood.  I had seen pictures of my father and some included me, but I did not remember them. My siblings always said we resembled each other and I always replied, “I don’t see it”. One day I had a conversation with my mother and asked her if she knew how to reach him. She did not ask any questions, she just reached for her purse and pulled out an old black telephone book. She gave me a telephone number but also stated she was not sure if it still worked.

I called the number (not sure how long I waited) and to my surprise he answered. I was nervous and scared all at the same time. I had so many things racing through my mind but oddly enough, the only thing I wanted was to talk to my father, to just hear how he was doing. I have spoken to many folks (like the people on Oprah’s Lifeclass) and they wanted to just ask a ton of questions. But for some reason, that was not my agenda. I honestly wanted to simply connect with my father.

We instantly hit it off!  But after a few conversations, I could tell something was bothering him. One day I asked him what was wrong, he said he had been wanting to tell me the history of why he was not around and why the relationship with him and my mother failed. I instantly stopped him saying, “Dad, I really don’t care. I am more concerned with today and not yesterday.” His face displayed shock and disbelief. He tried a few more times, so I finally allowed him to say something of the past but I did not want it to be a long conversation so I stopped him after 10 minutes. We never spoke about it again.

Through the reconnection with my father, my mother still never said a negative word about him. One year I asked if he could join us for Thanksgiving or Christmas and she quickly agreed. To watch those two interact was like watching two people who never stopped communicating with each other. They laughed, joked and even kinda flirted with each other. I must admit, it was good to see.

In 2008 I received a call from my father telling me he was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was very sad and I wanted him to be around much longer. I took off work to take him to his first chemo class (to explain the different types and side affects); after that, I decided I would take him to as many of his chemo sessions as I could. The cancer spread pretty fast through his body and he was quickly admitted into a nursing facility for around the clock care. He started experiencing slight memory loss but he never forgot me; when I would walk through his door, he’d look up and always say, “There is my son, Shawn”. He finally passed in October 2009. Not until his funeral and listening to his close friends speak about my father, did I realize I was not only like my mother but that I also had so many traits and qualities from my father. That made me feel more blessed than ever before.

I have a few reasons for sharing my story:

–        Develop a loving relationship with both parents.

–        If you reconnect with a parent who that has not been in your life, be more concerned with the present and not the past.

–        When you do reconnect with them, try not to blame or point fingers. They are most likely going through their own struggles.

–        Be honest about why you want them in your life.

–        Help them in the process; it’s better to do it together.

–        If one parent talks negatively about another parent, simply ask that he/she not do that.

–        The relationship will not develop over night, be patient. Be open to the experience and you will reap greater rewards than you ever thought were possible.

Taking the step to reconnecting with my father was one of the best decisions I ever made. God planted the seed in my mind and I followed through. My father may not have been there for my early years but he was there when I needed him most. I am proud that I have qualities of my father and at 45 yeas old I can finally say I look like him too!!

Me and Dad