Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1954 until his death in 1968.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1954 until his death in 1968.
It was like a dream, every morning we would sit around the breakfast table and eat like a proper family, then me and my dad would go off and have our talks, he told me what happened with my mum and why they broke up, he told me, he tried searching for me, for 20 years and how every birthday that passed, broke his heart but he’s happy he has found me now and he will make up for all the missed years.
Sadly, he never said any of those things.
I guess it was me wishing he did, our actual conversation was for about thirty minutes. We did sit around the table and he asked me, how I’ve been, and I said fine, and it was the truth, I had no other choice but to be fine. He went on to ask, “how has your mum been all these years?” I told him I didn’t know. “What do you mean?” he said, it was at this moment I realised, I was going to have to explain to him that I spent minimal time with my mum and I was brought up by the British care system at this point, I realized he had no idea I had spent most of my life in care.
I could tell he was shocked, all these years he thought I was living with my mum and she was keeping me from him. He asked me, “why did she put you in care”, “I don’t know” I replied because truthfully, I still don’t know but like I said earlier, I’ll get into things with me and my mother at another time.
So, my dad started apologizing for me growing up in care, I told him it was alright, and he didn’t need to be apologizing, especially when he isn’t the reason that I was placed in care in the first place.
We both fell silent, so I asked “what happened between you and my mum”, he explained that a few months into her being pregnant, he came home and she had left and taken everything in the house with her and left him with a lot of debt, during there time together, she had taken out several items on credit and didn’t pay.
*sounds just like her, to be honest*
After she had disappeared from him, that was it, he never saw or heard of her again. He would often get messages from friends and family telling him when and where she had been spotted, the very last place he knew she was, was in Africa, after giving birth to me apparently, but nobody ever mentioned seeing me with her.
Things fell silent again, so I asked him something that has bothered me for years, I wanted to know where I was born
*My mums always told me I was born in America, but according to social services I was born somewhere in The Gambia*
My dad told me, as far as he knows, I was born in America but he doesn’t exactly know where and isn’t exactly sure, and that was the end of the conversation.
Also, in that week, he took me around and showed me his old house and explained to me how it burned down… then he showed me his old workplace, he used to work for coca cola, which I thought was pretty cool, now he owns a nursing company with his wife.
We drove to a few other places around Charlotte, we also went to places like Target and Best Buy, which I remember hearing about in American sitcoms I watched, we also went to a couple shopping malls, and he asked me, what I wanted for Christmas, but that was it, our brief conversation and a drive around Charlotte was all I got.
In my second week – Not much talking happened between us, I didn’t say anything, and he didn’t ask anything. I’m not the best of talkers but I wouldn’t have held anything back from him if he had asked, but thinking back now maybe I should’ve told him stuff voluntarily? but after finding out I grew up in care, he seemed a hurt, which put me in an awkward position because anything I tell him now would most likely only hurt him further. Some of the things, I guess parts of me was to ashamed to tell him.
I mean how do you tell your estranged father, you never really had a childhood, you were moved all over the place, from one city to the next, me and my mother would always be on the move when she was around and if it wasn’t her then social services would be the ones moving me around, never allowing me to settle or socialize with other kids like a normal child should. How do I tell him I have been heavily involved in gangs, which put me on death’s door, one to many times.
How do I tell him any of these things and more without him attempting to blame himself again? As unsympathetic as this may sound, I wasn’t there for the blame game, to be honest, I wasn’t even there to talk about my own past, I just needed answers to help me understand who I was, what in happened to me growing up, happened and there’s no changing that, It’s not going to take away the pain I, it’s not going to make either of us happy.
so, we both stayed quiet.
The rest of my week not a lot happened between me and my dad, it was like I had been there all my life in his eyes, we would see each other say one or two things and then go our separate ways. This didn’t bother me much, i was used to being independent, actually, I was used to being on my own
*I could sit in a room with someone for hours and not say a word and still be comfortable and it often annoys me when others try to force conversations with me, it’s just not necessary.*
I could’ve gone the entire trip without speaking to him again, let’s be honest I’ve only known him a week and at 21, I’ve come a long way from being that child, that cried for his father.
However despite things between me and him being almost at a Cold War type of scenario, I did get to know my siblings a little bit more, I spent some evenings, playing Xbox with my little brother and spoke more with my sister, mainly about what she was studying and what she enjoyed doing when she wasn’t studying…
*my entire time there, she was always going off to revise or she constantly had her head in a book reading*
I told her a bit about the things that I’ve been up to like volunteering in Africa and the various charity work I’ve done and she was really interested and wanted to know more, at the end of our conversation, she told me she hopes to be like me one day, just going out there and trying things but she lacks confidence and she is not sure of what she would like to do. I told her the best advice I could give her, is to do what makes her happy, try new things and she should not be afraid to fail, because failing and making mistakes is how we learn, grow and eventually better ourselves, It looked like what I had said sent her into deep thought, as we walked around the mall over to the movie complex to pick a movie.
To keep myself busy on the other days, I found a Soccer Centre, you register online and then just turn up, pay and play with strangers. Whilst waiting for the game to start, I would often sit in the reception area and one of the owners came and spoke to me, he said he had seen me play on a previous occasion and thinks I’m really good, and he wanted to know where I was from, we spoke for a bit and somehow by the end of our conversation, he offered me a coaching job, which I had to decline and explain that I’m only visiting family and will be heading back to the UK soon but if I were to come back in the future, I would definitely come by and run a few sessions.
After the games my dad would come and pick me up, we never spoke much, he would ask “how was it” I replied “good a little easy but its decent” that was it really, we both fell silent and enjoyed the radio, the roads were dark and you could hardly see anything outside, so we had no choice but to tune into the radio or take notice of the sound the tires were making as the road surface would come from smooth to rough and back to smooth, you know just doing what roads do.
I also spent some time with my dad’s wife, I followed her to work, as she did her rounds checking in on her clients. Whilst in the car she would tell me how great it is that I’m here and how my dads really and she’s happy me and my dad are reunited.
We went to taco bell, I had my first ever taco, wasn’t all that, to be honest, and we sat and spoke, I asked her if my dad was happy having me here? Because we haven’t spoken much since the first day, she said he was very happy that I was here, he just doesn’t know what to say or ask, and he feels like he would hurt my feelings, if he forced me to talk about my past” I replied “oh…right, but he wont know unless he asked” she explained to me that it would take some time for the both of us to be comfortable around each other but we will get there she said.
*I really liked her, she was very understanding a little excitable at times, but she was funny and before coming back to the UK she took me shopping and we filled up a whole suit case with loads of American candy and cereals*
So before I knew it, it was Christmas and we all woke up and headed to the front room and sat on the sofa, my dad and his wife started handing out presents, now I just sat there not expecting anything. I did have a card for everyone and I handed them out and just after handing my dad his card, he handed me a box wrapped up in the Christmas spirit, I was a little excited but played it cool but really, I just wanted to rip the wrapping paper off to see what was inside, I played it cool, took my time unwrapping. When I eventually finished unwrapping like an idiot, I saw that they had bought me an iPad, I was happy, I did the whole hugging thing again and we all went back to our rooms to get ready for Christmas lunch/dinner
We had lunch/dinner in the dining room, my dad’s wife said grace and then we all tucked in – I think they must have thought, this was my first family like Christmas dinner because they kept offering to fix my plate for me, telling me I shouldn’t be shy, if I wanted more, but it wasn’t, I’ve had all types of Christmas dinners with the various ethnic families, I was placed with in the past.
*and little did they know when it came to food, I’m in no way shy, after all, a man’s got to eat right?*
After Dinner we all sat and watched tv for a bit and then we were told to go get ready, we were going to the race track, slightly confused I got ready and got in the car and yes indeed we were actually off to a race track, what they neglected to tell me was that every Christmas the race track gets transformed and decorated with loads and loads of Christmas lights and decorations, it was actually amazing and one of the coolest things I’ve seen to date. So really it wasn’t a bad Christmas after all. I enjoyed it.
Maybe many would’ve expected more to happen on Christmas? I don’t know, nor do I care, It was simple and I really enjoyed it. Plus, I don’t think I could’ve dealt with anything over the top, not on my behalf especially.
So Christmas was over and things went back to being normal. Only now it felt like time had slowed right down and it was almost as if the days were never-ending. I started to miss home, everything I was now doing here, I could be doing back at home, homesick? Maybe.
So, I first ever met my dad in December 2013, just a couple months after my 21st birthday.
Me and him started talking a few months earlier when my Facebook page was sent to him by his brother, who was friends with my mum on Facebook and she had uploaded a picture of me and her.
*Me and my mum, have never had the best relationship, I think when we are around each other we put on a show for others but in reality, we barely get and she often blames me for this, as she says I’m always disappearing on her, but I’ll get in to things with my mum at another time, lets focus on my dad for now*
So, after seeing the picture of me and my mum, my dad immediately messaged my mum and asked if he could call and speak to me, I’m not sure if they were friends before this moment or if they had been in contact with each other before, but honestly, I didn’t really care, I guess I was hmm… maybe excited to know I have a dad?
So, when he finally rang, he spoke to my mum a little and then she passed the phone to me,
*I’ve never been much of a talker on the phone or in person*
He said, “Hello son” sounding very American and I replied, “Hi, how are you?” sounding very British. I’ve never been the type to show emotions, so although I was very excited to be speaking to him, you would never have guessed it. Our conversation wasn’t very long, but what do I say to someone I’ve never met, claiming to be my dad, a fictional character I had long buried in my mind.
He called me again a few days later, this time our conversation was slightly longer. He introduced me to my half-brother, sister, and his wife. His wife told me about how they came to London in 2012 during the Olympics and they tried looking for me. I didn’t really know what to say, so I think my response was “Oh alright”.
*But really… what was I supposed to say? *
The phone was passed back to my dad, who then asked me if I would like to spend Christmas with them in America and I said alright, he said he would sort out the details and then let me know and that was that soon I was packing and psyching myself up to go and meet my long last father.
As I’ve said in the beginning I’m not really someone that’s emotionally there, so this day and being at Heathrow was like any other trip to the airport really. And like every other trip there’s always an unavoidable hiccup, which had the potential to stop me from flying and honestly that did start to make me a little nervous, and I started thinking the worse.
I thought my dad had sorted everything out before emailing all the information, but at the airport, I was told I needed to get this visa thing as part of the requirements to enter the states and I could only get it online and I had to do it before boarding the plane. The problem was I only had cash on me. I found myself pacing around the computer area in the lounge explaining my situation to people and then asking them if they could pay for the visa online for me and I give them cash in exchange, as expected many walked straight past me, the very few that did stop all said no. I was just literally about to give up, it was almost time to board and still nowhere close to solving my dilemma. At this point, I was frustrated and maybe upset? A little I guess, but then out of nowhere, just like the movies, this woman came and sat next to me and we began to talk, she was flying to South Africa to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela
* this was around the time Nelson Mandela sadly passed away*
but she had a very long wait at the airport and needed to get some food but there were no ATMs available or they didn’t accept her card, I don’t actually remember exactly. I explained my situation and told her about meeting my dad for the first time and how not getting this online thing could possibly ruin that and she stopped me from talking and offered to help, I couldn’t thank her enough and soon after handing her the cash I found myself running to board the plane.
The Flight, it was very long, I had to stop off in Philadelphia and wait for my connecting flight for about two hours, whilst on my second flight I must admit, I did start to feel somewhat anxious and part of me didn’t want to go through with the trip anymore.
So I finally arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina, It was late, and it was cold, and I was tired. As I came down the escalators towards the exit of the arrivals, I saw all four of them standing there, my dad, my dad’s wife, my brother, and sister. I’m not really a hugger but they were, so I smiled and hugged them all, as quick as I could.
Soon we were on our way to the car, we spoke about the weather as I was cold but not much else, we got in the car and began the journey to their house. I was little disappointed, it was pitch black outside, the only light coming from the headlights of the car, so was just really forced to stare at the back of my dad’s head, trying to figure out if it resembled mine in a way, my findings were inconclusive due to lack of light.
The story of my life is, I’ve always been broken
My childhood was ripped away from me, it was stolen
And I can go on and on and start reminiscing
but there’s too much going on for me to be in my feelings
I guess I’ve just got to man up, apparently, I’m grown now
And friends? well they’re all gone now
Truth is I had to mature at a young age
Focused more on survival I had less time to play
Mentally living in a house of seriousness and a house of pain
But I remembered the saying ” if there’s no pain, there’s no gain”
But really what have I gained? I always question
because I’ve had a lot more sorrows than I’ve had blessings
Speaking of blessings where is the Lord at?
hmm, can I even say that?
Years of being secretly depressed, I’ve had to fight alone
Life f’d me over and over never once threw me a bone
Thinking back, going through it all, you learn to keep all your memories and become a hoarder
People like me are supposed to be hard, with a past like mine, I’m not supposed to feel
Growing up watching Superman, I mirrored myself on being the man of steel
Once you get to know me though, you’ll see I’m crazy and weird
If you are around long enough, for me to lower my guard
You may find out my insecurities and my darkest fear
you’ll see all the pain I endear, and you may even find out about the very few I hold dear
I once used to have such a big heart, but that was once upon a blue moon
Nowadays I just get up, put on a smile and say its fine
some days I sit back and start reflecting on my past, I remember one time started crying
because strolling down memory lane, I remember the day I first felt like I was really dying
I gave up trying
But since I’ve started writing, its like I’ve started fighting
I may even be on the come up, I put the pills to the side
through the therapy of words, I may even be one up on this disease
Hey, these are some of my favorite quotes by Oscare Wilde. I also included a mini bio about him incase you haven’t heard of him.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken
You may be feeling confidential towards everything you do
Not realizing the littlest mistakes you’re making, is creating a monster
but you never knew…
you find it difficult because you can’t explain, why every day is like a race
And for reasons you can’t explain, you’ve got to keep on trying, just to be in first place
One thing about life is, you’re always going to be faced with something
no matter your circumstance
My advice is don’t be weak, continue keeping that head up,
because only you can stop yourself from being what you want to be
Make yourself believe
From where I started, to who I am now, I never expected myself to be able to do, as much as I’ve done this includes writing my thoughts and feelings
It’s like I have become my own therapist, some days I get butterflies when I read what I write, because these words flowing through my head, gives me a special feeling within and at that precise moment, I feel at peace, I feel untouchable, I feel courage, I feel my words wrap around me, ready to face today’s battles.
Staring in the mirror, she’s lost in that reflection that she see’s
Misperfection dwellin’ in her sights, you can hear the self harm in her speech
no longer riddled in her patience, she’s sick of contemplation
She’s concentrating focused on self-hatred
let it go or get a grip, she says focus your mind or lose every piece of it
Lost in her own thoughts baskin’ and askin’ questions sets from fiction
Deep infliction’s in need of readmission, if she speaks, do not interrupt just listen
Don’t whisper along the ridges of her lips hiding scarred words,
she’s a beauty to behold, and be held she will be
As the stars glimmer on her face, reminding her to keep hold of self confidence
I will not let go as I prepare for eternity and hand her my heart