It’s an annual event on T-blawg that I do a birthday T-pisode. This year I’m changing things up. Because this year I am turning the one age I always feared. I don’t fear birthdays. I don’t fear getting old. This birthday represents an event that changed my life. You see this year I turn the age that my father was when he got caught and had to pay for the biggest mistake of his life. But in a lot of ways he wasn’t the only one who had to pay. A lot of people in my family had to pay in more ways than one. Not only when he was away but also when he got out. Especially my mother, my sister and myself. This birthday has become the driving force of my life really. I always promised myself that I would be on the complete opposite end of the spectrum that he was when I reached this age. Because my only fear in life was becoming like him. So I spent a lot of time thinking about this age. And I came to a few conclusions. One conclusion was that I’m finally going to tell the story of that mistake made by my father and how it changed my life forever making me into the man I am today.
Like most little boys my father was my hero. Superman. I mean that’s how it’s supposed to be right? Up until the age of 7 he was. I remember when he used to drive the bus for the city. The MBTA for all you Boston folks. My mother and I would take the train to the bus garage and he would let me sit on his lap wearing his required uniform hat so I could steer the bus around the parking lot while he worked the gas and brake. That’s all I knew at the time. He was just Dad. I had no idea the things he did beyond that. Until one night when everything changed. I remember every detail of that night when I was 7 years old. You see unlike in the movies when the police or feds come to arrest someone they don’t put on their sirens. They don’t make noise as they arrive. So you can’t run. They come quiet in the middle of the night. They came that night. A lot of them. With warrants. My sister and I were physically tossed from our beds. They ransacked the apartment. We watched our mattresses get cut open. Suspender ceiling panels got taken down. Our toys were smashed. They found what they were looking for. Then they took my father away in cuffs. My mother and sister cried. I didn’t. I just knew he did something bad. I had to go with my mother almost every weekend to visit my father over the next 3 and ½ years. Two federal prisons and then a prison for his last 6 months closer to East Boston. I would always hear the stories about what happened. What he did. Why he did it. What type of person he really was. Everyone in the family had an opinion. I came up with my own. Because most of the family only talked about it or lied about it while we had to live it. Every single day.
My mother had to step up and for a woman who always had health issues, no money, a husband in prison and two kids to raise she showed all of us what it really meant to be a parent. To be selfless. To be strong. She worked 3 jobs while he was away. I don’t know when she had time to even sleep! She pulled me aside one day in front of my elementary school and said “I have to work a lot now. I need you to be good and go to school everyday. Please don’t make me have to worry about you.” A lot of people thought I loved school because I went every damn day and got straight A’s. Nope. The real reason? Because I promised my mother I would. After she said that I told her “Ma. I’ll go to school everyday and get good grades and some day I’ll take care of you. I’ll take care of all of us.” I swear to God. That was also the time that I became a man of my word and if I said something I meant it. I did it. At the fucking age of 7. My sister was older than me and spent a lot of time around the corner with my aunt and cousins. She dealt with things differently. I became angry and couldn’t find it in myself to be tolerant of all the things my father did. And things became a whole lot worse when he got out. He only cared about himself. He always put his wants and degenerate habits above being a father, a husband…a man. That didn’t sit well with me. Everyone in the family put up with it. Enabled him. I didn’t. A lot of battles happened because I was the only one to stand up for us. But it was my mother who was the heart of the family. Years later she still stayed strong through health issues, money issues, losing a lot of family members and my father not helping and being selfish. I won’t tell all those stories here. This is enough for now. Shit, it is my birthday people.
So. As I decided to sit down and write this story about the age I always feared, I started to change as I banged away on the keyboard. You see I am now the same age my father was when he got caught for making the biggest mistake of his life. But you know what? My parents are the same age. Yep. My father is just 4 days older than my mother. So I am ALSO now the same age as my mother was at that time. At a time when she had to become a superhero. When she put on the cape and became the strongest person I have ever known. So as much as I used to fear this age, I now embrace it. I embrace it hoping that I can become even half the selfless, strong, caring person that my mother became at this age! I now welcome this birthday. With open arms. Because of my mother. My hero. Thanks Ma. I probably would never have seen this age if it weren’t for you. I know that I should’ve went another way in life but you saved me. Thank you for this happy birthday.
Where I am at this point in my life:
Until next time. Always take it there.
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