“I’d like to think that I’ll be a better father, that I have learned from Dad’s mistakes. On most days I can buy that. But there are times when I look in the mirror and see who I’ve become, and think of who he’s always been, and I’m not so sure. You can’t pick up a newspaper without reading of the nightmare that is child abuse, or how alcohol is ripping families apart. I see these articles and feel a little foolish for my anger. My father was neither abusive nor alcoholic. He was simply absent.
Dad always did love me. He still does – or so he says on the rare occasions when we catch one another on the phone. He had his priorities when I was young, and now I have mine. I’m in jail, and my primary concern is my trial. I’m sure he understands. I always did.
I don’t remember much of him in the early days except that he was my hero. I recall stories I sued to tell the other kids about an important and powerful man. He used to fly in on a moment’s notice. I’d see him for a few precious hours. Then he was gone.
Such is the innocence of youth that when he called, always a few weeks after Christmas or my birthday, and told me that the package I had never received must have gotten lost in the mail, I believed him wholeheartedly. Until I was 13 or 14 years old, I was afraid to mail a letter for fear that the same fate would befall it.
The road from realization to acceptance is a lot longer than it looks. I’ve been on it for the past 5 years, and I’m not all that far from where I started. My father and I have a hard journey ahead of us, provided we can find the time. There is sorrow in his voice when we discuss the past, and I know that if he had it to do over, he’d do his best to do it right. Second chances are few, and it’s much easier to do it right the first time.
My dad loved me as only a father can love a son. I don’t question that. But he was also self-centered and let me down when I needed him most. A part of me will always be that kid at the window waiting and waiting with his nose pressed against the glass; knowing that if Dad said he was coming, he was coming; but waking up curled beneath the window, alone.
I love my father, but looking in the mirror sometimes I get a little scared. We are just so much alike. Father’s Day is just a few months away. There are a lot of kids thinking about their hero’s and a lot of hero’s thinking about their kids. Probably there are many kids who don’’ see too much of Dad. If I’’ lucky, a handful of those fathers are reading this. Your kids will love you whether you make it or not; that is the nature of being a hero. But maybe you should take time to consider how important whatever else you have planned is. We do grow up fast. Just ask my dad, or better yet, ask yours.”
Signed – Travis Simpkins, age 20, Fulton County Jail, Atlanta.
And so we see the end result of another failed father. The sad tale of another man who refused to follow God’s plan for the family, the fruit that came to another man who never knew heaven in the home.
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