There was a certain resignation to my life in April, 2001. To the outside world, the three of us were the ideal small family. We screamed out for a patronizing commercial extoling the wonders Wal-Mart could do for young Black Families. I was married but realized that it was going nowhere fast. As in most marriages, it had become a monster that two people each put a great deal of effort into constructing, but as is always the case, the history books will write that it was all my fault. We were great parents, but not very good spouses and I could see the end up ahead, even though I dreaded the effect it would have on Inkgnegro 3.0 who was the sole propelling force in my life. Rest assured, no piece of paper would have kept us together had he not been born.
I remember the fight clearly.
Her: Blah blah blah
Me: Blah blah blah (under my breath) With your dumb ass.
Her: *Leaps across the room and punches me in the jaw…hard*
Me: *takes punch: throws her on the bed to prevent more punches*
*large cat exits in a rush*
*small boy enters yelling and screaming*
*Her and Me realize that we have NO business carrying on like this, both stand up and glare like we were caught with our hands in the proverbial cookie jar*
It was at that moment that we calmed the hysterical boy and finished the argument in a less physical manner.
At that precise moment, as I drove to work on the night before Easter, I was done. All the arguments we had hidden from the boy were exposed in the most ugly format possible. He was 2 1/2, and I have been meaning to ask if he remembers it.
It was April 15, 2001 when TFMI told me that if I was going to go, I needed to go now and not keep her in suspense. I was on my way to work, literally. I stopped long enough to grab another tie, and a pair of boxers and I left. I left the money from my check in the account, opened up a new acct with the money I made from the second job and moved on in every way possible. By Friday I had a new place, and by May 1, life was starting to make sense for me.
It was the Friday before Mother’s day when I came by to drop off her Mother’s day gift from 3.0 and realized that TFMI wasn’t herself. Upon great interrogation, it was revealed that she was pregnant.
Just like that; I realized that Life wasn’t going to work with me around the corner living the “single” life like Cameo. On Mother’s Day night I moved back into the apartment and did my best to resurrect the monster I had slain with one quick decision. I succeeded to the extent that the Monster became a Zombie that would have made Romero proud.
Marriage the blessed sacrament had become Marriage the job. and I wanted to take that Job and shove it. It was in this atmosphere that Inkognegro 3.1 was nurtured and grew in utero.
All fathers have that moment where we look at our flesh and blood, our progeny, our namesakes, the Fruit of our proverbial loins and realize that we are saying EXACTLY what someone said to us and that they are the living embodiment of that longstanding unarguable curse of childhood:
We ultimately raise the very children we were.
When I met TFMI (The Former Mrs. Inkognegro) on our first date, I told her outright that there was one thing I was completely unwilling to compromise on. My first born son WOULD carry on my name. As a Junior myself, it was a non-negotiable condition of our relationship.
On October 14, 1998, as a result of the most smooth labor episode in the anecdotal history of Holy Cross Hospital (Labor began at 5:15am, water broke at 7:45am checked in the Pital at 9:22am, Time of Birth: 9:37am, all natural, no cuts)
It was almost as though I spit him out.
I vowed I would never leave him like my father did me. He was too much like me to have to go through life by himself. I knew his mother wouldn’t understand him. She didn’t understand ME…and I was GROWN. She loves him like her first born, because he is. But the same things about ME that made her crazy (and rightfully so) REEEEEALLY make her crazy when he does it.
But of course…Those who do not learn from their history are condemned to repeat it. I was already doomed; on the path to repeat the same mistakes my father made 27 yrs before:
- Find yourself parlaying your job into a plethora of unfulfilling relationships
- Realize that you actually want more than that
- Decide you want to settle down
- Meet, woo, court and marry the next woman you meet.
- Decide you don’t children right away and then IMMEDIATELY procreate
- suddenly find yourself married and parenting with someone who loves you, but doesn’t like the person you really are
- sabotage the marriage in an effort to chase down your own journey of self-discovery at the expense of growing your marriage.
So, Three years later, just on the heels of potty training and just after the birth of his little brother. Daddy left. Didn’t go far, but gone all the same.
My father didn’t go FAR. At first. First it was across town. then a few states away….then cross country. Chasing something. Anything. finding nothing but Distance and regret.
I did benefit from growing through those years with my father. I see 3.0 often enough to stay reminding him that Daddy knows what he’s going through. Sure as I sit here, I know what they future can hold for him. Good and bad. All about the choices. And not just the ones that HE makes, but the ones that I make too.
My father died when he was 51. I was the only child he had. Seven Wives. One child.
I was 29 when he passed away of an aneurysm on the side of the road in Southern California, his home for 20 years. I had spent 1992 and 93 with him…as his roommate and assistant. I believe it was one of his NON-wives that ultimately sabotaged our relationship at the time. This apparently was why she was a NON-wife. Ironically enough, my father told me (two wives later) that my presence could have MADE her a wife. Her jealousy of my presence made her a non-non wife.
My Uncle (on dad’s side) came to MD and flew with me to LA to Bury my father. It was the last time I ever saw my uncle. The last time I saw anyone on my father’s side. During that week I heard more about my father in death than I did when he was alive.
It was at THAT time that I started to put the pieces together of who my father was.
It was at THAT time that I realized the path I was on.
I vowed that I would NOT let my sons learn about me from strangers at my funeral.
Everyday that I wake up I get a chance to teach my sons more about me.
3.0 is ten now. His personality is taking shape. the shape of MY personality…good and bad.
This summer will be the most time we have spent together since I left in the still of a February Night, told by TFMI that she didn’t want him to wait until the boys grew up, that he should leave right now. She later said she didn’t REALLY mean it; that she was just mad.
I found out later that my mother said the same thing to my father. The night HE left.
My mission in life in regards to Mr. 3.0 is to prevent him from Following in ALL of my footsteps. Cause if I do nothing. He will.
Hell, if I do MANY things….he still might. But it won’t be my fault.
You have now met Inkognegro 3.0. Kinda.
Today is June 1, 2009. That means in nine days, I will have reached a number of years that basically takes young away as one of the adjectives you can apply to me.
When you are thirty-nine, the only young things you can be are a Grandfather, a widower, and a retiree.
Being none of those things…It is safe to say that Play time is over for me.
39 is old for the following: A College Student (check), a Waiter/Bartender (check x2), an expectant Father (check), a newlywed(check, sorta)
Suffice it to say that I am faced with the challenges of my situationally advanced age at every turn.
Up until…yesterday…June 1 has always brought a certain amount of apprehension as I found myself facing another tick on my odometer and a lack of accomplishment.
Yesterday, as I was assembling a bassinette, a task that served as considerable entertainment for my wife, who constantly asked if I was SURE I didn’t want to call 3.2’s * godfather in from the bullpen to assemble it, it hit me. I can look at my age as an asset or a Liability. If I was say…a QUARTERBACK (looks accusingly in the Direction of Hattiesburg, MS) who was 39, I would be hard pressed to find the asset in being an NFL quarterback at age 39 and would contemplate the possibilities of getting on with my life’s work (shout out to Chuck Noll)
But I am not a Quarterback. I am a man. A man just entering the prime of his life (according to his to-do-list) armed with all the wisdom that 14,236 days of life on this planet can give you (assuming you pay attention to the lessons life insists on teaching you). What’s better than that?
Now if I can learn to overcome the impatience that comes with dealing with the inane banality that surrounds the kids I work with and go to school with, I will be all set.
*3.2 refers to son number three (in utero), for those new to the program. My Father Is Inkognegro 1.0, I am Inkognegro 2.0, My sons are, in order of age, Inkognegro 3.0(age 10),3.1(age 7), and 3.2(again, in utero, much to the chagrin of my wife)
For those of you who are around here often, you can see another step forward for me.
For those of you who are new, this is irrelevant to you…feel free to skip down to the dotted line next more recent post.
As for the rest of you, you can see I have upgraded this site one more time. Why? Because I can, and it was easy.
This will be the last blog update until I move this puppy over to Inkognegro.com.
When will that happen? As soon as I learn how and effectively do it. If you wish to aid and abet me in that process, feel free to let me know at inkognegro07(at)gmaildotcom.
So, that is ONE end and beginning.
Another End is the temporary end of my world as I have constructed it.
My life consists of the following:
Self – Me: my personal health; physical and mental well-being.
Family- 1 pregnant wife, 3 sons (1 in utero), 1 ex-wife+husband, 1 mother, 1 set of parents-in-law, assorted siblings on both sides and their offspring, random cousins, aunts, and uncles and a smattering of people I love but I am not actually related to.
God – Father, Son, Holy Ghost, in my case.
Work- A job that would ordinarily seem beneath me, but is custom made for my life and my long-term goals.
School- Community College, a means to an end; I have been on a long winding road from High School to College and that road is as well traveled now as it has ever been. I am closer now to a bachelor’s Degree than I have ever been.
Media –Media has been my life since I was old enough to read, I do not remember watching Television and not being able to read at least a portion of what was on the 25 inch black and white screen. From Dr. Seuss to Twitter; From the handheld transistor radio I used to listen to baseball games under my pillow at night in 1978 to the Laptop that I lug around from Class to class I have invested my entire life into consuming media. If someone asked me about a hobby, It would be consuming media.
Today That all changes.
For the next 7 days, I will be forsaking all forms of Electronic Media. The only reason I can continue to Blog in real time is because of the magic of MS Word 2007, which allows me to Blog as I am writing my journal for my class assignment.
If it is a book, magazine, newspaper or any other hand held printed item, I can read it.
Otherwise? No deal.
No Online-activity of any kind, aside from school related activities.
NO TV. No Radio. No pre-recorded music. No Movies. None.of.that.
Live music and Live theater are ok, because that involves interpersonal communication.
Everything else is out for the Next 7 days.
I am actually turning off Itunes right now and entering 7 days of near total silence from the outside world.
Pray for me.
This is part of a Guest post series on Womanist Musings. Kindly follow me over there and follow along with the series
Through no accident of the cosmos, I found that in burying my maternal grandmother I had witnessed a seamless evolution in our culture before my very eyes.
I was provided with a front row seat in the world of Single Parenting as it has evolved through the latter half of the 20th century. I have seen it grow from a dirty little secret, to a necessary evil, to a political football, to an acceptable life choice.
Funny thing, death.
Even as it marks a definitive and complete end, in many ways, it marks a beginning.
A beginning of life after death.
Whenever someone close to you dies, at the instantaneous moment, YOUR life begins anew. The more significant that person is in your life, the more significant the new phase you begin.
You lose a distant uncle of your brother’s baby momma side, not much change to your life.
Lose a parent, a spouse, or a child Your new life becomes unrecognizable.
Then there are those curious situations where you lose someone who is very very important to you, but for various reasons they don’t have the tangible impact on your life that your emotional attachment to them might indicate.
I got a call from my mother that I had been half expecting for several months now. Grandma went to the hospital and it didn’t look good.
When you reach the ripe old age of ninety, when it doesn’t look good, it really doesn’t look good.
For me, it was about preparing yourself for the transition.
Grandma will be gone, soon, so find out what that means to you asap and start preparing for that reality.
I had about 6 days before my mother called again and told me it was important that I come now and not wait until her 91st birthday on January 17. My sons were already there with my mother and many of my cousins had already made the journey from wherever they went to escape our hometown of Pittsburgh back home.
I decided I had better follow suit and get up to Pittsburgh on the quickfast.
of course quickfast ended up being 11:50 PM ET on December 31.
You want to put a fork in New Years? Get off a plane at ten minutes to New Year’s and then spend 90 minutes waiting for church to let out so you can get picked up.
Once I got home, I realized I had done the right thing. I was probably the last person who saw Grandma and knew definitively that Grandma saw me back.
Once I brought the kids in the room and we hugged her one more time. It was a wrap for me.
But then comes the pre-mourn.
The pre-mourn is the period when you try to avoid mourning someone who isn’t actually dead yet.
You kinda treat them as though they have already gone on, but they are right upstairs.
So you wait. January 1 becomes January 2 and then January 3. the year has started and the novelty has worn off but you are sitting through bowl games afraid to do anything that remotely resembles celebrating or moving on. Ive been itching to write about grandma, but I felt like I was putting her in the grave before her time.
I took the boys back to the ex a day early because I didn’t want the kids to be there when the man with the stretcher came.
Once I did that, my blood pressure spiked, I could feel the moment coming. and at 9:55PM last night, Grandma Ink went home to be with the Lord only two weeks short of 91 years.
Grandma was my other mother, much as grandmas around the world are to children of single parents.
I inherited my random indistinct nose, and my gift to serve people, and my yellow from her.
She was nice enough to spare all her children and grandchildren the red-hair, and the freckles.
Now that Grandma has left me, I can start the year off.
A little Sad, a Little awed, but a lot relieved.