Parenting the Parent

Let me begin this by saying…I am a super-private person. I don’t like living my life’s ups and downs in front of a crowded stadium of the cyber-audience known as the Internet. I believe that your business is yours and you should be careful with whom you share your problems with. True enough, speaking on your issues can help someone else, but everything doesn’t have to be a wide open, spread-eagle, free-for-all of your most intimate moments. Having said that…I have to write this. If for no other reason, then to get through it and over it.

My father and I have struggled for years. I’m an immovable Capricorn and he’s a brash and bull-dozing Taurus. He and I, since the beginning of my adolescence…have had a back and forth, biting rapport. He had a tendency to say mean things…or at least I felt that way about it.

[I walk into the room]

Him: “You’re fat…you need to lose weight!”
Me: “You’re a crackhead…you need Jesus!”

True Story. I swear. *lol*

Though he is sober now…probably going on 16 or so years…he was an addict all of my childhood and adolescence. I know of the coke, the crack and the alcohol…I suspect heroine as well. I know that his relationship with my mother was tumultuous. I know a lot of things. Some…I wish I didn’t.

It doesn’t change the fact that now…even in his sober mind…he’s not changed a whole lot. I suppose with anything (including addictions), that learned behavior is hard to break. The longer you practice, the better at it you become. Well, my father was a selfish addict. Now…he’s just selfish.

My grandmother, his mother passed away in 2010. She was my heart. Loved that lady. With her gone…I see how she was the buffer. She was the go-between. I knew that…but, now I REALLY know that. Whenever I needed anything, I’d ask her and she’d ask him. Asking HIM was surely a way to have my needs forgotten. Constant reminding would become my job and eventually I’d get exasperated by the chase of him, rescinding my request. Surely, his plan…or at least his pleasure. Hell, I’m sure that a LOT of times my grandmother gave me money in his name so I wouldn’t feel some kinda way.

Either way…nothing has changed.

When my grandmother died, he of course became power of attorney for her affairs. In spite of the fact that my grandmother gave her policy to my aunt, it was my father who was able to cash it. All of a sudden my father needed to replace his 2 year old car with a new model and his not-THAT-old laptop as well. I don’t recall him asking my sister and I if there was anything we needed. He didn’t even offer my aunt anything, even though it was SHE my grandmother trusted to hold onto it. Luckily for him…I don’t feel the need to “profit” from my grandmother’s death. His forgetting us is just a reminder that in the thick of a time when we needed each other the most, he fell back into old habits and thought of no one but himself. That includes, making it very clear that his girlfriend (with her needy, manipulative ass) came first.

The GOOD thing here? I’ve never really asked him for much of anything. I surely don’t EXPECT him to do shit. I just observe the way he does family business and I’m confident that my stance is a smart one. Offering distant love.

In all of the years of his substance abuse, I’ve never taken jabs at him about what he didn’t do for me. I feel it’s futile to exhume past bones I buried in my 20’s. What gets me and at times makes the balls of my feet itch, is to have someone want father accolades and kudos with his chest stuck out proudly…when he’s done not a thing to garner that, except seed us. Half of what he DID do, he did seemingly, under duress of my grandmother’s influence and insistence.

The drugs, the alcohol, the streets, his friends and his girlfriends were always his priority. He even told a story at his one year sobriety anniversary about how he’d taken me on runs. A baby…barely 2…sitting in the back of a Buick Riviera, as he hit drug spots in Harlem. *that explained the deja vu I felt as a child riding through certain areas on my way to a class outing*  I cringed at his confession…I cried. I felt abandoned, even though I was with him. Does that sound weird?

Anyway. Here we are…in 2012…and I refuse to go along for the ride anymore. I refuse to sit in the back and coo lovingly…blindly at a father who refuses to look back, see his child and stop his shit.

I refuse to parent my parent. I love you daddy, but no more.

Say Uncle

So many thoughts I’m trying to reconcile right now…so, bear with me…
Firstly, isn’t it amazing how one thing leads to another? The WAY they lead to one another?
I went to Facebook and saw that a friend had joined (RED) so of course, I joined too. Decided to go to Twitter…well, of course they’re making Twitter red today…so I joined in. I then tweeted a shout out to my uncle, who is living with HIV/AIDS and quite sick…as well as my sister’s deceased father, who died of AIDS in 2003. My uncle has been battling the disease for over a decade now. Tough cookie he is, so I decided to call him. Now, I don’t call him often. Condemn and judge if you choose…but, it’s hard. Right now, I’m damming tears after speaking to him. He said, “Kali…I’ve been sick for 11 years. I’m tired. I lost my car, my job, my health…”  *pause* His voice is so frail. In between telling me how pretty my mother, sister and I have always been {remembering to tell me how crazy about my mom, my dad was and how broken up he was when she left…hmph! lol} …and asking me if I had a boyfriend, to which I said no, because I don’t have the energy to explain how I love a dude several states away. *oy vey* He was saying how now that his only child has moved to NC…he wont be seeing his 5yr old grandson much. He sounded so sad.
*sigh* This is my uncle. My father’s younger brother. My grandmother’s baby…lawd, this is her BABY! Anyway…I have so many memories of this cat. He had a pimp swagger. He was the kinda dude that would spend his spare time in this house wearing a stocking cap to preserve his waves. Tall and thin, light-skinned and slick…he was the type of dude that had mack vibes. He had a few girlfriends at a time…but, one, Denise…was the one he brought home to my grandmother. Mind you…his daughter’s mom is “a Denise” as well…but this wasn’t her. THIS Denise brought with her 3 little girls who became something like cousins throughout their relationship. At one time, they all moved in with us and it was like one big slumber party every single day. I don’t know why I mentioned that…but, anyway…he couldn’t wait to move her out of our apartment and back into one of her own. He had to be able to come home and be AWAY from her sometimes…I guess to catch his breath. When he came home, which wasn’t often…we’d watch movies together. He was real easy. He even taught me how to iron…no double creases. Perfectly starched shirts and straight cuffs.
It wasn’t all sweet…not by a little bit. He, my father and grandmother argued a lot. Things got difficult at times to have him around, because he demanded attention…even if it was negative. He was the baby for goodness sakes. He refused to be ignored and at times would “start” with my father. My father AND uncle are indeed recovering addicts…so there’s nothing more I need to say on that account. They fought a lot and that’s that.
My uncle lucked up on finding a woman who in spite of potentially knowing his activities of that time, loved him, married him, and has dedicated her life with him to caring for him. They were married in 2001 and he’s had peaks and valleys of being well and then sick again. God bless his soldier spirit…remaining feisty along the way. Yes, he’s still here.
My sister’s father lost his battle in 2003. No, I retract that…he didn’t lose it. He beat it with the victorious transitioning from this plane to the next. In a room, barely breathing with no one there with him except my mother, sister and I…he said sayonara. I still remember. My mom praying for his ease, him breathing his last breath, us on the way out…when my sister realized he wasn’t breathing anymore. My heart almost stopped with his. I could sense it. I was rushing to go…I didn’t want to be present when death came. Plans foiled, huh? Yea, of all the folks in the world he had with him there to breath in his spirit as he left…it was us three. A woman he loved dearly, his daughter…and me. Rest in Peace, Richard.
World AIDS Day…I’m so aware.


Blah Blah Blah

Growing up, I remember how my father used to promise me things…and then disappoint. I always felt like he was REALLY gonna come through. Then at the last possible moment, he’d almost indignantly shrug his shoulders and say something like, “Kali…I had to do other things!” or “Kali, please don’t be mad baby…next time”. I would get so damned mad. I mean, as a kid what is the worst thing that can happen to you except getting your hopes built up high for the colossal let down? Gonna get that extra $20 this allowance…NOT. Gonna get to go shopping for those sneakers everyone else has…NOPE. Gonna take you to the Statue of Liberty…yea, ok. Over and over again, I got promised the world and got let down damn near every time. I remember being 15 or 16yrs old and once AGAIN, my father’s promises disintegrated into thin air with the night’s breeze. I don’t remember exactly what he’d promised…all I know is he didn’t come through. We lived in the projects…a building away from each other. He and my grandmother in one and my sister and I, in the other. We started out at his house and because it was night time, he chose to walk us home…me fussing the entire way as to why it was so unfair that he lied to me…

*sidebar* I have no problem disclosing that my dad at that time was addicted to drugs/alcohol. He has since been clean for the past 13yrs AND keeps his promises! 😉

…so, my father is getting irritated and begins to brush me off. I too, frustrated as hell…get irritated. I walk ahead, mumbling under my breath while my dad is walking with my sister who was about 9 or 10. We get into “our” building and as we wait for the elevator he tries to calm me with apologies and more promises to make up for the other broken ones lying at my feet. I tune him out. The elevator arrives and he kisses my sister goodbye and attempts to lean in to me and I back away and put my hand up. He says, “Alright, Kali…bye.” My sister and I step into the ill-odored space, press 6 and watch him close the door and walk away. Now, if you don’t know…in most PJ’s there was the door that slid…and the one that opened first. Right before the sliding door closed, I kicked the one that opened…but, instead of it swinging open and back…it fell off the hinges. This STEEL DOOR got kicked off the hinges. Now, my father was barely in the safe zone. That door fell RIGHT at his heels…missing him by a mere inch or less. He said, “What the fuck? Are you crazy?” Not so much because he almost got cartoon hammered into the lobby floor, but because he most likely couldn’t fathom his teen daughter kicking a door of that weight off it’s hinges. My sister started to get scared…me, I’m even MORE pissed. This means…I’ve got to walk 6 flights of stairs to the apartment. The entire way, he’s yelling and cussing and scolding and blah blah blah. I get in the house and he tells my aunt what happened, and she puts her 2 cents in. By that time, I am so NOT fearing anyone’s discipline. Fuck it, I’m tired and done with half-assed behavior from adults who want full-assed behavior *lol* from me. Ultimately, I don’t get any real punishment…accept walking up the stairs another day. (btw…funny that on my way to school the next morning, I hear the custodians, who are now picking up the door; asking who in the world would tear the door off, while I proverbially whistle and scurry by) LMAO.

I, to this day…cannot stand a liar…a breaker of promises or whats more…an EMPTY promise maker. Someone whose intentions fall short in THOUGHT. Someone who makes promises to keep a situation at bay or to seem like they’ve got it all under control, when they know that they don’t possess the wherewithal to complete the thought let alone the promise. As adults, you have the ability to do one of two things when making a statement. Tell the truth…whatever that shall be…or LIE and know that with each lie, promise, fallacy…your character diminishes. In the final moments…it is YOU that looks bad and has no credit. BAD credit…to which steals your ability to get big ticket items…like TRUST and RESPECT!

Just keep it real. With that…I bring you a song by Mr. Chap f/Slim Breeze “Blah Blah Blah”…

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A Little Princess

I swear sometimes I feel psychic. You all have NO clue how often I think of something and then it happens, or shows up wherever I am. Just the other day, I wished that “A Little Princess” would come on. It’s an enchanted story, set in 1954, of a little girl whose father goes off to war and leaves her in a school for girls. While there, she lives off of the adventures they’ve taken in their travels to India. After receiving word that her father died in the war…life becomes a little hard for her, but she gets through it by remembering what her father said, “All little girls are princesses…if you believe”. Her storytelling abilities become the sunshine in the lives of a few little girls who become taken with her. It’s kinda like an upscaled orphan Annie story, made in 1995. (It stars Liesel Matthews, who is also an heiress to the Hyatt Hotel fortune).

So, I wished for this movie…and VOILA…this morning, as I was searching for a movie to watch. It was there slated to air @6:45pm. Only, I didn’t want miss Hancock which was coming on @7:45pm (they coincide) so I continued looking for another time it would air…and it was coming on right then.

I love this story. Here’s a little girl, who was schooled in LIFE. She comes to the school, where she’s supposed to take French and Latin…but she is already fluent in both. Her flair for the creative and her knowledge at such a young age makes her a target for an angry little bully…and even the head mistress. Who would think that a grown woman would hate on a child’s life? But, I suppose that perhaps there are adults whose lives are shells of what they once believed or dreamed they’d be. They covet the innocence, zest and wide-eyed faith that children possess and rather than encourage or bask in it’s shine…they try to beat it down…reprimanding and chastising away their hopes.

Here is one of the saddest and cruelest parts:

In this story…a father’s love for his daughter and hers for him…allows a little girl the ability to exist in her own lovely state. In spite of how she begins to get treated…she still feels irrepressible hope and joy, just because her father loved her more than anything.

I just thought I’d share that. Hmmm, I’ve been wanting to see Joy Luck Club…you think if I wish hard enough, it’ll come on?