In 1972, President Nixon signed into law the proclamation that the third Sunday of June would be designated “Father’s Day”, in honor of fathers across the country. The holiday, 50 years in the making, finally achieved acknowledgement and recognition.
By way of coincidence, that was the same year I was born the bastard son of a man who never acknowledged me. I have never been recognized as his only son. His firstborn, 38 years in the making.
So here’s to you, Clyde Denver Thomas. Fuck you.
For washing your hands of my mother and her child, fuck you.
For not sticking around and working out an amicable visitation arrangement with my mother when you two had a falling out between yourselves, fuck you.
For living in the same town where I was born and never once coming by to at least give a token nod to my existence, fuck you. That knowledge really hurts.
For all those years I had to tell my classmates and friends that I didn’t have a father, only for them to laugh and reply that it was impossible to not have a father, fuck you.
For never being able to celebrate Father’s Day as a son, fuck you. For having no other option but to joke with my mother and give her the Father’s Day calls, fuck you.
For having only a single mother to struggle at giving me more than half of the rearing I needed to make it in life, fuck you. A man’s input was sorely lacking, and no boyfriend or husband of my mother, no uncle, no minister could ever come close to being a suitable replacement for a missing father figure. So for being raised with only half the story, fuck you.
For trying to make nice with my mother and I when the Arkansas Child Support Bureau was on your case, and then closing communications when you started paying a paltry $95 a month; $50 a month for three years was what I actually got until I turned 18 — yeah, you got off easy. Fuck you.
For making my first time to see you face-to-face the awkward moment we accidentally crossed paths at the blood clinic for our court-appointed paternity testing, fuck you.
For poisoning your daughters, my half-sisters, against me, fuck you. Hell, I even went to high school with the eldest, and she wouldn’t even say two words if I talked to her to say “hello”. At least your wife showed a passing interest by picking me up and driving me to school if she saw me walking.
You, Mr. Thomas, are a sorry excuse for a father. If you’re not a father to all of your offspring, you are not a good father.
I have been carrying this anger my whole life, you see, just as you’ve been in hiding for all it. I am the ghost of your past, the skeleton in your closet, the eyes in the shadow of your life. I wonder how many of those people in Texarkana who hold you up as a fine, upstanding pillar of the community know that you have an illegitimate son with a woman who is not your wife. Do you think about that? Do you think about me? Do you feel a pinch in your gut every Father’s Day when the thought passes that somewhere out there is your only son? Or have you grown numb? Have you seared off that part of you that feels it?
I am your shame. I am your disgrace. For making me feel that my entire life, fuck you.
His loss…not yours…
I can’t tell you many times i’ve thought those same words on Matthew’s behalf, while his father ‘serves the community’. I have worked through to a point of forgiveness, but not acceptance. Ever.
I’m sorry for your hurt, Matthew’s hurt, and the hurt of all the fatherless children.
It’s a sad commentary, indeed.
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