I am like my Dad, but Kai needs an Uncle Sam.
My Dad had dreams for me. He dreamt I'd grow-up, graduate from college and get a job working in management at a company for 30-yrs, have a wife, and give him grand kids. It was his dream for me, what he raised me to become just that but instead he discovered I was Gay. As you'll recall, I didn't tell him directly but he found out and it angered and hurt him. He felt I'd lied to him. He was angry I'd "brought that boy into the house", but I will always be grateful for two people at that time Verdell and Uncle Sam. Verdell who told him, "Ernie. He's a good boy. He's never gotten into any trouble. He's not on drugs. He's not going to jail. This is his life."
And I will always be grateful for Uncle Sam for embracing me, and the couple: Mike & Ernie, and taking us to the very best restaurant in the city. My Dad was angry and shut down. Uncle Oscar was angry and STRUCK out! Uncle Sam however acted with UNCONDITIONAL love. This is the story that keeps going through my mind as I think about Kai, but I can't get past my own anger and dissappointment, and in that way, I am just like my father. I am shut down because my dreams have been shattered.
Why did I lie to my Dad? It's easy to answer: I lied so he wouldn't reject me. I knew what he expected and rather than disappoint him, I lived The Lie he was comfortable believing about girlfriends. Why didn't I come to him directly and tell him about it? I don't know if I ever could have done that because I knew his dream. He raised me telling me his dream often enough. I knew what was expected.
I went to college because he wanted me to go to college, but when my girlfriend Diane got pregnant, I knew I could not have a child before marriage. I arranged for Diane's abortion, not once but twice. How could I have told my Dad I'd gotten a girl pregnant? How could I live with that dissappointment? He died without knowing, and I am the one who regrets the loss of the two children. How then could I also ever tell him directly about being gay? So he learned indirectly by opening a letter addressed to "Ernie" but intended for Ernie Jr.
I think about what my life would have been like if those things hadn't happened? Would I have stayed in the Gay Closet in Michigan, hiding my life from my Dad forever? Never sharing my real life & love with my Cincinnati relations and friends? Would I have never had Kai as my son? I think it's probably so. I recall the pain I felt when I heard my father, and others say horrible things about people who were like me, but they didn't know they were also talking about me. And I wonder what pain Kai has been experiencing for the past five years every time he heard me praise him for having no kids, and for judging The Girls, Obie, Carlos, Bill-Bill, etc? How could he do anything more than what he has done?
Am I better because I arranged for two abortions, and that my own father never knew that dissappointment? Am I better because my Dad accidently opened a card exposing me as Gay, rather than me telling him directly? Am I better? Am I different? Whose life is it anyway?
Right now I feel sorry for Kai. I feel sorry for my old girlfriend Diane. I feel sorry for my Dad. I feel sorry for you caught in middle of my shutting down. But I am grateful that once I had Uncle Sam who reached out immediately, and I am even grateful for my father who taught me that with time even the man who shuts down can come around.
Who will be Uncle Sam for Kai right now? Who will embrace him without judgement right now? Who will show Love without exacting punishment right now? Who will take him and his daughter to the nicest restaurant in Cincinnati right now? My Uncle Sam is gone. Who will be Kai's Uncle Sam, because right now all I can do is shut down, and for that I am sorry.