It took until just now to put myself in my dad's prison issued shoes and held compassion up to the bullet proof glass divider. I think he was something like 22. Sold drugs to the wrong guy, ended up in prison writing to his not yet born daughter, Fred. He cared about me enough to write me that one letter, that one time. I don't recall ever being told that he got out.
After months, or years, or maybe just weeks of hearing my prayers, god bless mommy and daddy and everyone else in the whole wide world, my mom took me to meet him. I was seven years old. Everything happened when I was seven. Fuck, my son is days from being seven. I met my dad when I was seven. She took me to him. I was ushered through the basement apartment door. The dank basement mixed with the smell of stale cigarette smoke filled my little nostrils . 2 strangers were perched in discomfort on the 70’s beige couch beneath two oversized macrame plant holders.
IT was dark, like basement with half windows in the middle of the day dark. With innocent confusion I turned to my mom and asked when we were going to meet my dad. That was the first time I remember getting embarrassed in a real, heart tightening way. With a few awkward laughs, I was told that my dad was right there on the couch.
I didn't recognize my dad. My dad had hair down past his ass. My dad didn't wear a shirt and did wear ultra short cutoff jean shorts. This guy…. He was smoking cigarettes like my dad always did in that picture, but that's it. This guy had short hair, was dressed in normal 80’s attire and didn't seem to be the least bit interested in me, his daughter Fred. I had romanticized about that meeting and learned the trueness of disappointment instead.
I wish I know him. I'm afraid he’ll get into some crazy accident and die before I ever get to know him. I wish i know that he loves me, that he is glad that i am alive, or even just if he likes me.
I wish I know how he felt, what he experienced in prison and if he ever had any real aspirations or dreams. I wish I know what his favorite color is and what his concerns are. I want to know more about how he was raised and what he wants for me. I wish i still had that letter.