Forget Me Not

A couple of weeks ago I got a message from my aunt asking me to give her a call when I was free. She’s my dads sister, and the only one of his siblings that I really know or who has bothered to get to know myself and my twin.

I’ve spoken a bit about my dad but not much. That’s purely because there’s not much to tell past the tale of your stereotypical Black male, gathering no moss as he rolled on through woman after woman. I don’t know if there are any more siblings past 1974 but I wouldn’t be surprised if some surfaced at some point. There were 8 of us, but one brother passed away some years ago. Of his 7 remaining children I know of only one he has any time for.

I jokingly call her ‘The Chosen One’ as whenever I was over in Antigua where she resides, she’d always tell me that she’d just spoken to him or he’d sent her this and that. I sincerely felt no way about it. As far as I was concerned grab what you can considering he’d gone years without contributing towards the rest of us when we needed it, making it up to one was better than none – or was it?

Call me cynical, but I looked a little deeper and I saw retirement plan in the making.

I’ve physically met him 3 times in my life. The first time I was 16. He paid for us to go see him in AmeriKKKa. I’d love to say it was a Kodak moment but there was no feeling of love, more curiosity, and we obviously wasn’t what he wanted as there was no attempt to keep contact once we returned home.

I swallowed that and kept it moving until over 20 years later when he entered my life once more via his granddaughters. My mum had kept in contact with him on and off and one day my girls were staying with her when he called and Isis answered the phone. 

I’ve never hidden the state of my relationship with my dad from my girls. I’ve never cussed him out to them, just told them the truth and that I had no interest in talking to him but they could if they wanted to. On a real, he’s a man of few words anyway so I couldn’t see him telling them anything more than a couple grunts or anything untoward, and if he did I’d be there to put him in check!

Then 2014 hit. The catalyst for so many of my tales, and with it the chance to speak to my dad once more as mum had been diagnosed with dementia and couldn’t really hold a decent conversation anymore. I kept him informed of everything that was happening with her, showing sympathy as I knew they had been speaking more regularly, so did as I thought mum would want.

He flew over to see her a couple of years later for a couple of weeks, the second time I’d met him in person, and he’d yet to master the art of conversation and dare I say gratitude. I remember on a couple of occasions he made it clear he was expecting more of a welcome than the one he got, when in reality he should have appreciated the fact that I had heart enough to contact him at all.

In 2017 I got married in Antigua and due to mum being the way she was she couldn’t attend. I had invited my aunt and sisters and knew that he was also in the country so thought I’d be generous and invite him too – the third and final time I saw him. Now I know there’s more to being a parent than financial support, but he was lacking on both sides. Throughout the years he’d send us some dollars, but all combined I say it amounted to around £1,000, being generous – and that’s divided by two.

He never offered to contribute to the wedding and I’d certainly never ask. He came, saw, ate and left, without so much as a card to say congratulations. But it was all good. When you expect nothing you’re not left disappointed when that’s what you get. 

Despite that, I still kept in contact to inform him of mums health and circumstances. I’d been gifted an Ancestry DNA kit and through that connected with family members on my dads side. In a quest to find out more I contacted him to see what further information he could offer. When I spoke to him he said that he couldn’t remember things off the top of his head and was busy but would call me back.

I waited a few weeks and heard nothing back. A little while later a cousin posted a whole heap of information about family connections on the Facebook family page, and upon asking her where she found out all of the information she told us that she’d had a lovely chat with Uncle Raphael and he’d filled her in.

Would you like to hazard a guess as to who Uncle Raphael is?…

There’s always one straw that’ll break the camels back and that was mine. I had every reason in life to not show this man anything but contempt, but chose to be civil and give him more time than he’d ever afforded me from conception to big 40 something years old. I’d never asked him for shit previously, and the one time I do he bypasses me to give it to someone else. Upon analysis of who he gave the info to I again deduced that it was all part of the RRF – Raphael Retirement Foundation.

Understanding and articulating my feelings and emotions has rarely been an issue, and I know that they’re a me problem, but I knew the root cause of this one lay in my relationship with him, so I called him and didn’t scream and shout, but spilled my soul on all of the hurt of the past to the present day, and as much as I’d like to deny it hurt, it bloody did.

I asked him why he was the way he was and why he left before we’d even left the womb and he dropped a bomb on me and left me to deal with the fallout. I’m not sure if that particular tale will ever be told, but it put a lot of things into perspective for me; the main one being he actually actively didn’t give a fuck. 

For the sake of my soul and sanity I decided that would be the last time I spoke to him and released myself of his energy and fuckery. 

Fast forward to the text message from my aunt and I was fully expecting it to be the death knell, but he was still alive. I’ll spare his blushes and not divulge the full details, but it amounted to him now having Alzheimer’s and his one repeated request is to go see his kids in England…

Can you imagine!!!??!? 

My aunt knew better than to expect anything more than the response that she got from all of us over here, but she had to ask the question as it was coming on behalf of my uncle, but it made me question why he’d think it would be a viable option?

We weren’t registered as part of the RRF. He didn’t invest in our assets or show an ounce of love during his good years and now he’s in decline y’all want to come knocking. Well I’m checking receipts and it appears time’s lapsed and he ain’t eligible for a refund.

I informed other members of my family, and as ever my nephew came with the probing questions, which culminated in a release of tears I didn’t know I had stored up. He asked if I would go and see him and I in turn asked for whose benefit? It wouldn’t be mine. I explained it like this; for the most part I’ve handled all of the bullshit in my life with dignity and grace – hormones permitting! – and I realise that life isn’t fair and nobody’s perfect, so have given opportunity after opportunity for certain people to come correct. But when they still continue to show you what you mean to them it becomes draining and soul destroying.

I’ve done more than my fair share of allowing and accepting. I poured my heart out to my dad when he was FULLY lucid. I wasn’t rude or disrespectful, just honest, and he showed me what it meant to him by not one attempt of contact since that day – until now.

I don’t need to, want to and won’t show face in his degrading state. I know it would only cause me distress in the long run and I’ve had too many years of it. I’m tired. I deserve a soft life, real love and peace, so I’m choosing me and what makes me happy.

He chose himself for the longest while and lived a carefree life with no responsibilities or consideration of his children – bar one. I won’t be made to feel guilty about the situation he now finds himself in, and people can think of me what they will.

I’m protecting my energy and right now that’s my main priority. Before things turned left for him he realised the package he was paying into for his retirement wasn’t exactly what he’d envisioned so he was scrabbling around trying to find somewhere else to lay his hat.

Turns out it was a cap and it fits him perfectly!*

We all deserved to be first choices, not last options, and yes, you can deliver equal love to all of your children albeit on different levels. It’s not hard but it takes the ability to think of more than just I and I!

This happened with my dad, but I’m aware there are mothers out there who are just as uncaring yet expectant that their offspring will be there for them in later life. Let my tale stand as a warning to all that you could find yourself in your own version of where my dad finds himself. I keep telling folk what you sow you reap. Things will always find their way back to you somehow so do good and your expectations will become reality. 

R.I.P to all those who have lost their lives this week.

Congratulations Susan and Byron on tying the knot! Sending much love and wishing you both many happy and blessed years ahead.

Congratulations Lydia and Carlos on your engagement! Sending love to another long and strong Black couple sealing the deal!

*He’s back in Antigua on the original plan he, in the end, didn’t want, possibly staring at the basket he put all his eggs in and full of regrets; but that’s not my business.☕️🐸

Forget Me Not And You’ll Have A Shot, Stay Blessed & #CelebrateLife

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