On this Father’s Day eve, my heart is full of my beloved Uncle Frank, who was my first and most memorable father figure. His kindness and generosity was proof that loving support doesn’t have to come from where you think it should. So here’s to wonderful fathers, but also to all the amazing men who stepped up to be surrogate dads. You’re priceless.
Like Denzel Washington in Flight, my father was handsome, smart, arrogant and drunk most of the time. To his siblings and friends, he was a charming-life-of-the-party man who played jazz piano by ear and told funny stories. To his wife and children, he was a real-life Boogeyman—a violent, controlling, addict who yelled, demeaned, battered and blew grocery money on booze.
His job sucked, racism sucked, marriage sucked, and he had too many kids for his money, so it didn’t take much for my father to escalate to nuclear in seconds over something a sober, more emotionally balanced person shrugged off. But by the grace of God, those terrifying early years are a blur, except for scattered flashbacks of bruises, black eyes, and police banging on the door.
This is hard stuff to admit about your father. Stuff it has taken decades to process and be so matter-of-fact about. Thing is…
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