Monday, May 28, 2012

The Greatest Pain I Ever Felt (Part I)

The greatest pain I had ever felt occurred 20 years ago while I was a student at Grambling State University. I remember I was working nights, after class, at the university’s health center at night in the cleaning department as a participant in the university’s work study program to earn extra money to pay for food and other living expenses. I liked working there because when I would I would go on breaks, I would casually slip into one of the nurse’s offices and talk on the phone while my supervisor would be in the break room eating and talking with the nurses who were working the night shift. Well, this particular night, I discovered that I could make long distance phone calls courtesy of the health center. The first person I called was my favorite aunt in Dallas, Patricia. We started our conversation off talking about college and how everything was going for me. I asked about my cousins and other family members who also lived there in Dallas.

Then, we began to talk about the birth of my first niece, Sheila, by my younger sister, Tisha. I made the comment, “Aunt Pat, Sheila looks just like Tisha when she was a little girl.” “She sure does.” my aunt responded. My aunt went to something that would change my life forever. “You know, Rico, Sheila looks just like her mother the same way you looked like your father, Carl.” I paused for a moment. I suddenly felt this overwhelming sense of fear take control of my body. I cautiously asked, “Aunt Pat, don’t you mean Terry?” “Aunt, Pat, My father’s name is Terry.” At that very moment, I heard a jerk in her voice that I will never forget. It sounded as if she had been surprised by something or she had let something slip out of her mouth that had been a deep secret up until then. She did not even bother with trying to correct herself. She just came out with it. “Boy, your mother hasn’t told you yet?” She asked. I said, “No.” “Told me what?” Your mother hasn’t told that Carl Jackson is really your father and not Terry Richard?” I told her that this was the very first time I had heard this news. Needless to say our pleasant conversation had turned sour.

We attempted to carry on the conversation, but I just couldn’t. I believed at that time, she thought she had to continue to talk so I would not feel bad about her blurting out such a revelation the way she did, therefore attempting to explain the situation as much as she could. In my mind, she had said enough for one night. I let her off the hook by telling her that I was about to get off from work and I had to go. Before I hung up the phone, I had to ask her how this Carl Jackson person looked. She responded very quickly, but sensitively, Rico, go and take a look in the mirror. With that being said, we hung up. I immediately called my mother to get some answers because I was both hurt and curious the same time.

I immediately called my mother and told her what my aunt Pat had told me. Her response to what I told her pissed me off at the time because it seemed that all she was concerned about was her and her precious secret that got out. I told her that my aunt Pat had let it slip out that Terry wasn’t my biological father and instead a Carl Jackson gets the cigar. She angrily responded, “ Pat talks too damn much!” “She tells every damn thing!” She went on to rant and rave about how little the relationship meant to her when they dated the very short time all those years ago when they were teenagers. “There was nothing between us!” “I didn’t even like him!” “I don’t know what I was thinking!” “It was just something that happened and it was over!” “When I met Terry, Carl was not in the picture!” “I was already pregnant with you when I met Terry and he took care of you!” I interrupted her ranting and raving about herself to tell her that I was coming home the next day because I was not up to going to class the rest of the week.

We said our good-byes and hung up. I packed my books and left work early that night. I walked half way home in a daze. I was in total shock. I could not believe what had just happened to me. Here I am, twenty-two years old, and just now finding out that the man whom I was led to believe by my mother and the rest of my family to be my biological father, really wasn’t my biological father. I felt betrayed. I felt stupid. I felt alone. I felt a sense of not having an identity. I was angry at my mother for keeping this information away from me for what I perceived as selfish reasons. I felt a big gap opening up inside of me. Up until age twenty-two, I thought Terry Richard was my biological father. Trust. He was most certainly never a father to me growing up because I never saw him that often. I never really liked him because I had nothing in common with him. He was just the only connection I had as far as knowing who my father was. I had a sense of identity. I was content with the belief or the story that he was my father and I had even adjusted my life to this thinking. Now, that would all change. I wanted to know more about this Carl Jackson.

I remember walking across the campus on my way to the little trailer home that I rented at the time which was walking distance from campus still in a complete daze. I don’t think I noticed the other students on campus or even cars for that matter as I made my way across the yard. Suddenly, my daze was broken by the horn on a friend’s truck (Patrick Cooper) who offered me a ride home. When I hopped into the truck, I tried to act natural as if nothing was wrong. He asked me, “Wassup, man?” and I responded in what I thought was a calm way, “Nothing much.” He asked me if something was wrong and I just went into this stare, almost into a zone like stare. I began to speak slowly about my very recent experience with finding out about my real father. I guess I wasn’t quite ready to discuss it with anyone because the more I explained the sadder I became. I talked non-stop all the way home. While explaining my story, I felt myself beginning to breakdown in tears. I was able to hold them back until we pulled up into my driveway.

The tears came streaming down my face as I made my way out of the truck. “Take it easy man!” Patrick yelled out as I made my up to the front door of my trailer. I looked back with tears rolling down my face and responded in this hurt and quivering voice, “Okay, man! I will see you later!” I walked into my apartment and went directly to my bedroom and collapsed on the bed. I cried until I had no more crying left in me. I remember yelling, screaming, “How could this happen to me?” “Why me!?” That was one long, painful night of tears.

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