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Sins of the father

“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

-Albert Einstein

::

i was 4 years old when my father left us.

my brother was just a newborn.

and i am living proof of just how much genetics can influence a person’s life

for without his physical presence to influence me

i became just like him.

::

my father was many things.

shiftless.

womanizer.

soldier.

thief.

deadbeat dad.

he spent time in jail. in fact he spent many times in jail.

and he spent no time with me

i often had questions. questions my mother never wanted to answer, though sometimes, when her conscience got the better of her, she did.

otherwise, i had to contact more distant family members to find out what i wanted to know.

and the more i learned, the more i was able to understand him.

in the end, i had no overwhelming urge to track him down and tell him i loved him. but there did come a time i wished i could have looked him in the eye and told him i didn’t hate him.

i lost that chance forever the summer of my 18th year.

i was working up in new york as a groundskeeper on a largish piece of property that actually straddled new york, new jersey, and delaware.

my people all lived in virginia

my father was found in the carolinas.

or rather his body was found.

he’d been on the run from the law and i guess he got tired of running. on an old backwoods road in south carolina, he put his old .45 in his mouth and pulled the trigger. he was dead two weeks before they found him. the august heat and the closed in space of the truck cab ensured a closed casket (along with the use of several body bags to control the stench).

i came back from new york on the first thing smoking to attend the funeral of the man who provided half the raw material for who i am. my brother refused to go.

i met my half sister for the first time beside our father’s casket. we didn’t speak. though her mother tried to talk to me at one point (for the life of me i have no idea what she tried to say).

i thought of that day many times in prison.

i thought of how much like him i had turned out to be.

but i never once blamed him for how i turned out.

that i laid squarely on my own shoulders.

you see, genetics can only take you so far. then it quickly becomes a matter of choices. one choice builds on another builds on another until next thing you know you’ve built a life out of thousands and thousands of little and big choices.

and it was on a prison yard one day that i decided not to live another day in my father’s skin.

i acknowledged the ways that i was like him. i acknowledged the natural inclinations. and then i began to bend those inclinations towards my own ends.

i love women.

i always have. women were something of my addiction at one time (luckily for me i’m not better looking, so i didn’t get into toooo much trouble on that front).

that was me.

left unchecked that was the part of me that had a disastrous potential to harm any woman i ever tried to love.

it was the first of my father’s aspects that i tackled deep down inside myself. i knew i couldn’t change this inclination. i didn’t want to. i knew i just wouldn’t be me without it.

hell, me without a deep abiding love for women

would be like a gay man with no *fabulous!*

so, i simply started looking at it from different perspectives, wondering how i could still be me without letting it harm someone i cared about. and in the end the solution . . . my solution . . . was absurdly simple.

i turned all that interest, all that attention, on one woman :: the woman who ultimately became my wife.

and i am never bored.

i have made it my business to know her. really deep down know her, of course, but also on the surface. i catch myself thinking about her all the time. sometimes at the weirdest times. sometimes in some pretty weird ways.

and it may sound funny, but it is a very satisfying way to live. to throw yourself wholly into one person with all your heart and to daily discover that there is still more to discover.

my wife is constantly surprising me.

she doesn’t intend to, but she does. and it’s awesome.

if i live to be a hundred i suppose she will still fascinate me.

just a couple weeks ago she reintroduced me to kissing. yeah, yeah, i know. that’s something you’re supposed to cover long before the wedding, and trust me, we covered it thoroughly.

but over the past couple years we had begun to content ourselves with less.

i’d bloody well forgotten how fun it can be to just . . . kiss.

::

as an added bonus, it embarrasses the kids 8)

and that’s okay. they can feel embarrassed.

but they’ll never know what it feels like to watch me walk away.

::

it is true, i am my father’s son.

but i am not my father.

i have inherited some of his habits, some of his outlooks, his ways of thinking.

but my decisions – what i do with that inheritance

that’s all me.

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