He was there for a minute after I was born but then was gone. I would see him from time to time but for him, that needle was his only concern. I’ve seen him shoot and I’ve seen him smoke. But i don’t ever remember feeling sad or hurt by it; those were his demons, not mine. He beat up my mother from time to time and I didn’t know why. I didn’t think it was any of my business nor my fault.
Then he was gone again, our irregular time disappeared. Locked up in Hagerstown for who knows what. Not a big deal to me because i was with my grandmother. My shield from it all.
Next time I saw him, he was in a drug rehab program in Upper Marlboro, Md., a place named 2nd Genesis. My dad, the smooth talker that he was and still is, talked his way into leader positions and really cleaned up. He even showed up at my junior high school once for a teacher conference. Surprise!
After that, I would get to to stay at the rehab place on weekends sometimes although now that I think of it, is that wehre you really want your kid to stay for ‘a visit’? Everyone there adopted me and treated me really well because i was “Ezzard’s boy”.
I would go back home to my grandmother and get on with my week. We didn’t talk much about it. Everything was what it was, I suppose. Then one day, the last day of school in 1984, before I went to stay with my best friend. He lived 4 houses up from the house I grew up in; my grandmother rented that house and she moved to another one on the other side of town. On the day i was supposed to go home, I got a call at his house. The voice on the phone simply said “Phillip! Time to come home son”. My dad moved into the house my grandmother was renting out! I flew up the street empty handed.
We, and by we I mean he, struggled alot that summer. money was tight so he worked alot. But there were quite a few times where instead of going to play football with my buddies, i would ride shotgun with him to work.
I did not have a great upbringing at all; i was smart, but lazy. Talented but undisciplined. But the one thing my father taught me by his actions was simply was never to blame anyone one else for situations you created no things that you had no way of consulting in. His choices that took him away made him unavailable for input. He never blamed anyone for anything; it was all on him.
My father is a man. Thru all of it and knowing and experiencing all that I did I wouldn’t wish my childhood on anyone. But I also would not trade any of it for a different dad. He’s flawed, hell we all are but he’s taught me what manhood means and what men do. Men provide, men get up and go to work and men can nurture and be sensitive and reflecting. Men hurt and men cry. Men stand up and men get up front.
I hope my dad is proud of the man I am trying to be and I hope that I am teaching my son and daughter both the true meaning of manhood. I wouldn’t be who I am without God using my father as the example for me.