The Fifteenth Day…

We had the largest auditorium in the city, even bigger than the High School’s

…the day you graduated (choose any that you remember most)

I choose my graduation from elementary school.

I was a great student in elementary. My 7th grade year would begin a descent into academic mediocrity due to the onset of Narcolepsy. We wouldn’t find out for an entire ten years later WHY it was I couldn’t stay awake in class or focus.

Anyway, I graduated from 6th grade with honors. Until about the last semester, I had the highest test scores and grades which would’ve made me Valedictorian of my class. Some kid came in and took my glory, leaving me with the honor of Salutatorian. fucka. lol

I had to write a speech. (I have NO memory of the topic)

I remember sitting in bed next to my grandmother and practicing that speech on her. She calmed my nerves because I was (and am still) horrified at the idea of public speaking. Some time before that…my mom had taken me shopping for my dress.  I hated dresses. I was a consummate tomboy and could only appreciate pants and shorts. I can’t remember if it was Macy’s, Sears or JC Penny’s…but, I remember my mom buying me this light-colored dress that had a very light rainbow pattern. Spaghetti straps. Flared at the waist. FAR to revealing for me. I wanted something with sleeves. Not that nightgown she insisted I wear. AND she made me wear heels. UGH.

Someone gave me that corsage…don’t know who. Probably mom. My hair was done nicely and for the first time in a long time, my mom and dad were in the same space without an argument.

I hated leaving my school. I loved Washington Elementary. I loved our principal, Mrs. Nellie Thornton (RIP) and I loved knowing everyone and the safety of our class. That would all change in 7th grade. A.B. Davis Middle School is where I’d go to. I’d heard horror stories of fights and how large the school was. They said that you had to change classes every period…never staying in the same class all day. WHAT? Are they CRAZY? How am I supposed to LEARN moving all around all damn day?? LOL I begged my grandmother to send me to Sacred Heart…a catholic school that sat vertically across the street from the back of my old elementary school. I was SO afraid of being picked on and beat up.

CHILE…by the time I got there…I’d spent the entire summer agonizing over it and building up my defenses. So much so, that “I” became the mean one. Grilling folks and taking no shit. lol

Yea, anyway…6th grade graduation had a lot of meaning on a few levels and I sometimes wish I could go back to that point with what I know now. Too bad there are no do overs. eh…whatever.

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.