Manning Up

As a 41 year old woman still trying to find my way in the tumultuous second decade of the 21st century, my life up until now has been profoundly shaped by my grandmother.

This influence can be seen in my powerful belief in myself and my ideas, my skepticism when it comes to the surrendering of self in the act of marriage, and basic lack of trust in other human beings and institutions.

Bad or good?

I guess you could say bad because when it comes to others challenging my core ideas and beliefs, I can be very intolerant and sometimes downright hostile!!!

Bad also in that being suspect of the motives of every human can breed a mistrust so profound that it can become almost impossible to function on a day to day level in a world where interpersonal communication is very critical!!

Good because it is the unshakeable faith in myself as a person and critical thinker that has allowed me to deflect the negativity of others which can sometimes have the overwhelming potential to become my unfortunate reality!!!

Good also when I sometimes see firsthand the devastation brought about because of mis-placing trust in another infallible human being!!!!

But really readers, Am I beating the joker at his own hand?

Does one really win at the game of life when they are only half in?

After a lot of soul searching I began to realize that my trust and self-esteem issues instead of stemming from my grandmother, in actuality stem from my relationship-or lack thereof- with my dad.

Earliest Memory….

I am about two or three years old.

A cranky baby.

Why I don’t know.

My dad is trying to sleep or watch television- I am not sure which.

I am hitting him with a baby bottle…perhaps trying to get attention?

Anyway, I feel bad because he constantly says stop!!!!

Finally I tire of this and fall asleep.

Another early memory…

My father is in intensive care.

He has been shot several times.

The how and by who are still a mystery!!!

My brother and I are probably three and four years old.

We cry and scream when we see our father with dozens of tubes and machines attached to his body.

He starts to cry when he sees our reaction…

Another early memory…

My father, my brother and I are on the Greyhound bus headed for Mississippi.

My father tells us that we are going to see grandmamma and granddaddy.


What he neglected to tell us however is that we are staying forever!!!

Fast forward to elementary school…

I am in excruciating pain!!!

Somehow I fell and managed to slit my tongue.

My grandmother is on the phone to Chicago with my dad giving him a good cursing-ah-tongue lashing for his late and lack of support!!!

Apparently after my father’s almost demise by gunfire, he was incapacitated for a while.

Somehow or another, it was arranged that his parents would be the primary caretakers for me and my brother on the condition that my father provided my retired and elderly grandparents with money for our support when he was fully able to.

Thus, once depositing us on his parents-my father was on his way back to Illinois-No small town Mississippi life for him.

Unfortunately, my father was always lacking when it came to monetary support for his children!!!

Fast forward to many scenes in my (fatherless) childhood…

It is Friday night and all of the working adults in the house have just gotten paid.

My father gives me and my brother our allowance.

How much?

50 cents!!

Yep that’s right. Two budding teenagers.

FYI Readers…

My father-since his return South-never maintained a seperate residence of his own.

He occasionally would temporarily set up house with girlfriend after girlfriend but would eventually return to the home of his elderly parents who incidentally held on to his children while he was content to drift about.

Anyway, back to a bunch of Bulls%$#@!

Apparently my grandparent’s constant barrage of criticisms failed to have any lasting effects on my dad’s parenting skills.

Eventually my grandfather dies leaving a void that that was never filled for me and my brother…

Incidentally my brother and I managed to grow up and come of age and move on.

What did we take from our father?

Better yet, what did I learn from my father?

Never to trust someone even when they give their word…

To only depend on myself…

Always have a backup plan…

If possible, go at it alone…

Wow, uhm uhm uhm you say?

Believe me when you grow up watching a father who financially supports the children of girlfriends,

Take them on weekend brunches and outings while you and your siblings eat beans and cornbread,

Walk to school in the rain while your dad feels obligated to take the other children to school and fetch them afterwards,

You will be hard pressed to muster up a healthy dose of self-esteem and trust in your fellow man!!!

And the bitterest pill to swallow?

Towards the end of my dad’s life, he was broke and felt compelled to turn to the children that he loved-but had a funny way of showing it!!!

Well dear readers, enough self-perspective for now!!

Until next time….