Writer’s Name: JC Gardner
Title: Should I Have Let Sleeping Dogs Lie? You Be the Judge!
Up until recently, I had not seen my biological father since I was four-years old. I distinctly remember him coming to my grandmother’s house in the Bronx (where I lived at the time) ducking his head to get into the door. He was tall, very athletic and very handsome. I sat in one of my granny’s easy chairs, swinging my feet looking at him, my nerves getting the best of me. I was quite intimidated; very shy. My granny asked, “Do you know who this is?” I nodded that I did. He glanced my way then continued talking to my granny. In a few minutes, he was gone. I guess I thought he should have shown me more affection – a hug or something. He never even sat down to talk to me, ask me about my little girl hopes and dreams. Never came by to take me out or call me on the phone to chat. Just “poof.” Here one minute; gone the next.
By now, you’ve gathered that he and my mom were separated and eventually divorced. Seemed like he found it in his best interest to keep his distance. His mother would visit occasionally though. I resemble their side of the family a lot – tall, fair-skinned, top heavy (thanks grandma) and did I mention he’s from Jamaica? Yeah, my other heritage is West Indian. That explains my love of spicy food – okay, all food.
Remember, when I started this I was four? Fast forward to being seventeen-years old. For some reason, knowing he was alive and kickin’, I longed to talk to him. Guess I had a million questions, and even though I wasn’t important to him, I just couldn’t discard him like an old newspaper. I finally got a hold of his phone number (another long story – another time), and I called him. FIRST a woman answered the phone. Seemed a little shocked when I announced who I was. She put a man on the phone who demanded to know who I was. *sigh* Gosh, didn’t anybody know I existed? Anyway, I left a detailed message for my “daddy” to call me back. He didn’t. I called again a week later and, Shabam!, He answered the phone.
If you have ever ridden a roller coaster, do you know that feeling when your climbing high, way past the treetops and after a few seconds you’re like, “What the heck am I doing up here?” Then when you’re at the tippy-tippy top and you see that big drop, your heart is in your mouth and the adrenaline is pumping and has you a little freaked out but elated. That was me.
Finally, after thirteen years, I was about to have a conversation with my daddy. Wooohoooo! Right? WRONG!
After I established my identity, he flatly told me he didn’t have any money to give me and what did I want. I found my voice, which was a bit stifled from his reaction, and told him I just wanted to talk – to meet, maybe have lunch. Wasn’t he curious about me and how I looked? Didn’t he want to see me
after thirteen years? Dag, can we just be friends?
He was defensive, at times, belligerent. He said he had pictures of me and why isn’t that enough? Wow. Remember that roller coaster ride? During our conversation, I felt like I was falling fast without a harness or a parachute. My hopes for a storybook reunion were going down the drain and my feelings were beyond hurt. They were crushed! We eventually hung up, with him considering my invitation to go to lunch. He was to call me back.
The call never came. I was too damaged to call him back, trashed his number, and harbored a lot of ill will towards him.
Fast forward again to when I turned forty-seven, and I began an all-out search for this man again! I needed to do this to have some closure. It was just nagging me to no end that my father was probably alive and I didn’t know him. It bothered me that my children had a biological grandfather that was alive and neither knew about each other. So I started sending random letters with his name to people in the Bronx, NY and wouldn’t you know, I eventually struck gold!
To make a long story short, he called me, and we talked over the phone. He re-called nothing about that lunch date years ago. After several conversations, in the end, he came to visit me.
My father is like six foot three. That explains my son’s height of six foot six. He likes his jewelry – several gold chains and rings. But most interesting is that I resemble him A LOT. When my husband asked him point blank, “Are you happy to see Jackie after all these years?” His response was, “I’m here, aren’t I?” That should have been a hint to me about his personality, but it wasn’t.
His visit with me and the family was very telling and I have to tell you, it was disappointing. The entire time I was in NY with my mom, so was he. He was living his life and taking care of his other two daughters – my older half-sisters. He remarried for a third time, and he never bothered with me figuring I was better left alone.
The whole visit he talked about HIMSELF. But it irked me that we were literally in the same city for years and not once did he visit me. My father has an impeccable memory. He was recalling dates and times from way back. I told him how it crushed me that he did not respond to my lunch invite years ago. He claimed that conversation never happened and if it did, he had no recollection of it.
Never once during his visit did he say he was happy to see me or happy I found him.
Then, unbeknownst to me at the time, he had a private conversation with my son about women. Basically, he told him to make sure you use them before they use you and take what you can get from them; don’t trust any woman; don’t make any commitments.
Really? That is the grandfatherly advice you decide to dish out to your grandson you’ve never met before?
I was really crushed. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t that. So after he left, I wrote him a letter about my feelings – how I was abandoned by him, even though he was practically around the corner. And then that ridiculous conversation with my son. It was not a nice letter. No curse words but I blessed him out!
I called after about six months or so. Again, I decided “life is too short.” He now wants nothing to do with me. My letter was “nasty.” In his mind, I was wrong to write it. He “never” talked to my son like that. Hmmmm…. like we never were supposed to meet for lunch, right?
I tried to explain I was upset, but didn’t I have a right to be? I told him I forgive him. I’m over it, but he does not care. So now I’m kinda back to square one.
Should I have never searched for him? Even though I was angry over his visit, should I not have written the letter and let it go just to maintain a relationship? I wrestle with these thoughts every now and then, but what do you think? Should I have let sleeping dogs lie?