I was born on Long Island in Huntington, NY on May 6, 1985. My Father was a 22-year-old roofer and my Mother was a 19-year-old nursing assistant. They were young, free-spirits, born during an era of expression and united by love.
Over time, with the tribulations of parenthood and adulthood, their love for one another was tested. Personal battles with personal issues and inter-relationship differences drove a wedge between them.
I have fleeting memories of my early childhood. However meager or morose our situation was at times, I could always feel their mutual love for me.
No matter their differences or collective economic struggles, I always felt comforted and provided for.
There was always food on the table and no matter the budget, Christmas and my birthdays were made very special by my parents.
We relocated, disjointed, in 1989 to be closer to my maternal Grandparents in upstate New York. My Father, the hardest worker I know, remained on Long Island for a period of time to continue to earn money as a roofer and support his young family.
He made frequent trips upstate, by any means necessary, to be by my side.
After time, we were all together again but the relationship between the people I love the most was strained and the time came when they went their separate ways.
I have spent years in anguish over that moment. The disbandment of the bond that brought me to life. The separation of my family.
Early in life I wanted nothing more than for my family to be reunited again, in harmony and love.
The happy memories I held onto during my adolescence were hard to hold onto, I have very few now.
As my Mother and I braved the world together, without my Father, I felt a void inside.
I needed the laughter, the jokes, the smiles and the hugs. The all-encompassing joy that is my Dad.
For reasons better known by my family, being with my Father wasn’t one of the options.
We saw each other occasionally over the years and on holidays and I missed him very much.
Writing this, and thinking back to the years I spent longing for a closer relationship with my Dad makes me angry.
I’m partially mad at him, but I’m primarily upset with myself.
He did his best. He moved within ear shot of my childhood home, where my Mother, brother and Step-Father lived, and he always supported me financially.
He started a family of his own, giving me a wonderful little sister to worry about and love unconditionally.
I never wanted for much in my youth. I had the nice clothes, the trendy shoes, the newest video games; but now as I grow older and mature I understand the importance of development and growth and I would gladly exchange any of it for those memories of a complete family unit.
I don’t want to seem ungrateful, I had a great childhood that I would never trade away. I love that I have a younger brother whom I taught sports to and grew up with. I thank my Step-Father for giving me that bond with my brother, one that I will never relinquish.
I just want more memories with my Dad.
Since I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown closer to my Father. We spend as much time together as our work schedules allow.
He is the funniest person I know, he can always make me laugh.
His brand of common sense and wisdom is my favorite. A no nonsense air of intelligence earned through hard work and commitment to his craft. He has taken the past two decades and turned himself from a roofer into an expert mill wright, welder, craftsmen, builder, repairman, carpenter, husband and Father.
But this isn’t about him, it’s about me.
I am an adult now, I make my own destiny, my own memories.
I can choose to spend a Sunday afternoon watching eleven hours of football and grilling burgers with my buddies, or I can take the trip down that long familiar road and see the man who made me and learn a little about why I’m here.
I’m a man that wants something specific in life. I want those that knew me to have respect for me and a place for me in their heart. I try to love my brother and my neighbor as I love myself.
If I can forgive myself for the mistakes I have made, and learn to live without regrets, than I can forgive those who have made mistakes in my wake.
There was a period in my existence when I resented my family for not staying together, or for raising me in a “broken home.” But I have since realized that people are imperfect, life does not follow a set path and you make your own destiny.
So now, instead of calling my friends to talk sports and other equally unimportant issues, I phone my Father and try and make him laugh.
Instead of spending $4.50 on fries and shake with my buddies, I buy a box of pizza and plant myself on the couch next to my pops and endure hours of home renovation television shows.
While it took time to build what we have now; an honest, trusting, caring relationship, the only regret I have is “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”