Papa Was A Rolling Stone

June 5, 2012
“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore – and then run?” The popular words from the empowering work of Langston Hughes provide an accurate portrayal of what happened to my childhood dream. I always withheld the dream being dubbed “Daddy’s Little Girl.” Growing up, I consistently saw visuals of a strong two parent household raising a bundle of children that appeared to be extremely happy and content with their lifestyle. Never did I acknowledge the fact that these visuals consisted of paid actors instructed to paint a loving picture of how a home should function to consumers. Despite how naïve I may have been, I was always proud to know that my household had bypassed the common stereotype of a single parent, African American dwelling. I was proud to know that if I desired to have “father daughter time” all I had to do was yell “DADDDYYYYYY!!!” throughout the house and sure enough, my father’s comforting voice would answer my call. All of this was true until my dream suddenly deferred. My dream suddenly dried up like a simple raisin in the sweltering sun. My father had become that festered up sore that chose to take the easier route, and run.

As a teenager, as I reflect on my younger years, I recall my mother always being the one holding down the fort. She always kept things in check, myself and father included. Nevertheless, my mother never had to play the role of both mother and father. My father was always the one I could run to, the one that I know that would listen and then understand when mommy was too busy being the head of the household. 15 years – the amount of time spent with my father living with me. 15 years – the expiration date on my dream. 15 years – and then life changed. The household became tense and that once loud bellow of “DADDDYYYYYY!!!” began to go unanswered. Eventually, the call stopped completely and I accepted the fact that my father – the person I had in my corner for fifteen years – was now moved out of both the house and my life. So what now? What about my dream? What about overcoming that stereotype? What happened? All of that was flushed down the drain. I was now a teenager growing up in a single parent African American household facing the reality that I could no longer run to my father’s side whenever I wanted to.

At first, I was at peace with the situation. I constantly reminded myself that he was just a phone call or a car ride away. But then the phones stopped ringing and the cars stopped rolling. Now Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Birthdays went unnoticed. No calls or visits then. This is when I knew that this new life was real and this is when the new feelings developed. No more being at peace with the situation just a feeling of pain, anger, disgust and rage blossomed. These feelings, along with the stubbornness I attained from both parents would no longer allow me to pick up the phone and dial his number or ask for a ride to go visit him. I had begun to accept this lifestyle. From then on, I began to accept living in this single parent household and only acknowledging one parent. All of this was true until I finally grew up.

After nearly a year of hating the man that contributed to my being, I finally had what some would call an epiphany. I woke up and realized that despite the fact that my father was no longer living with me and allowed this change to separate us, I was just as guilty as he. All the times that I wanted to see him or call him to hear the excitement in his voice when I gained a new achievement at school, I should have. I placed all the blame of our separation on him when it was the pride and stubbornness of the both of us that ended “father daughter time.”

The reality of living in a single parent household impacted my demeanor in life. To watch my dream defer without any fight was far from being an easy bump in the road. With maturation, I acknowledged the truth that my father was the only one I would have so I might as well make the most of him while I have him. Even though I am here, two years later writing this memoir reflecting on one of the many turning points in my life, I can say one thing with pride – my father and I are far from being perfect and although we still have a long way to go on this road to redemption, we are not where we were and that my friend, is progress.

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