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Good Journeys
I have heard many moms repeat "You never stop being a parent." Sadly, I don't see or hear that quite so much from the dads, although I know of remarkably nurturing exceptions. I thought of this as my impossibly young, yet oldest son, nearly twenty-two, stopped by for an early birthday present, cash, before heading out in his car with a fellow rap artist friend on their way from this Atlantic coast to that San Francisco Bay. D.B. never drove away to college, or flew off on a great summer excursion, or even went off to a technical school, nor the military. He did try to make Job Corp fit. But, two suicides and one stabbing on his dorm floor and he decided not to return after Holiday vacation that year. He has been the last driver of not just one, but two, of my totaled cars. The second crash he walked away from was when a drunk young white male hit him head on in the middle of a gorgeous New England sun-bright June afternoon as he was coming home from his first, and last, out of home employment busing tables in a casino diner. D.B. was approaching the end of his three month probation period when they let him go, primarily for his ADHD challenges with getting to work on time with all the pieces of his uniform clean and intact. But, he also had trouble showing up ready to set aside the dramas of his personal-political life, which often feels like a race and age and gender profiled and marginal and commodified life. It was hard to stay focused; to be there when he was there. Tomorrow D.B. and his friend since high school days will see a slice of these continental States from coast to coast and back again for the first time. I am ravenously happy for him. I wish I could have given him wings, some outrageous pile of cash. My heart stops when I notice how he is so vulnerable exposed raw too often despairing and perhaps even terrified more about himself than intimidated by a hostile world closing him out. Closing ranks on all the ways his particular black life will not matter in Earth's vast history. Not significant enough to be sure if it could become possible, or even safe, to love himself, to allow himself a long and warm regard, as I embrace him. I don't know if I could finish being a child without becoming an everyday relentlessly caring and nurturing parent. I can think of nothing so binding both feet to Earth yet so free flying impossible to control. For many reasons, whether despite or because of my single gay male identity, I chose the second class Mommy Track instead of going for the Ph.D. And not just the Mommy Track; I adopted only the older broken kids who would never safely drive or hold a job, or would never talk or walk, or would never thoroughly clean off her own poop, or sleep through the nightmare night, or would not feel safe outside our home, stalking the boundaries of life while high school friends head on and out to colleges and new friends while he struggles to tolerate two classes each semester at a nearby community college. It feels good to know I am needed but frightening to realize I cannot retire from this parenting profession except through my own growing incapacity. These four charges of mine remind me we are each such a precious gift for each other. I have never regretted my more generous choices rather than less magnanimous. Not necessarily because the return on investment has always been better for my kids, but because those were the moments standing out most clearly in my column for Fully Living, rather than continuing to draw out a stingy half-life, under invested in our shared future regenerators. I hope D.B. and friend have the time of their young lives as I have had mine, and even better, even better. It is so much easier, and comforting, to have old and happy memories when we have had both young and generously happy times, seasons, reasons to smile and greet each fleeting dawn.
Copyright © 2019 Gerald Dillenbeck. All Rights Reserved