So today was July 21st… a day which has created a pretty strong mix of emotions for me, over the past decade. It was a day that I didn’t wanna give a fuck about, for the longest time… because if I did, then I felt like I’d be condoning and/or forgiving some actions that I deemed were unforgivable! That I’d be forgiving the pain and sadness, that I’d be reminded of… the feeling that I wasn’t good enough or important enough!

And this was something I felt, long before I ever knew what this day would actually fall on. So, when the time came that my Father finally lost his very quick and very ugly battle with Cancer… July 21st took on a whole new meaning.

And for me, I was kinda caught in a conundrum… there was the Father I never really knew as a child, then there was the Father I found as an adult.

Because all through my childhood I had the Father who chose… alcohol and the families of some other women, over the son who was starving for his attention & validation… who waited in the window (in tears) for him to come home. Then, as an adult man, in prison… that same Father I longed to have in my life and show me I was worthy of his love, finally showed up.

I had spent years waiting on this Father, to love me & teach me how to be a man…. to finally have all those nights & all those tears pay off. But I had grown so cold and disconnected to the idea of him… that I didn’t know what to feel or how to feel about it. There was a time when I made the declaration to not give a fuck or shed a tear, if he ever died… that I would give a fuck less! It was easy to say and easier to mean.

But, the day came when I wasn’t a sniveling & teary-eyed 6, 8 or 10 yr old anymore and I’d come into who I was… without his help! Now as a 20-something yr old, who’d already been in prison for a couple years… in walks this man, trying to play the role of the loving & caring Father… a role he’d tossed-aside decades before.

I was unreceptive, to say the least, when it came to his attempts at concern & support. He was much too late to be trying to advise me on my actions or how I should make decisions in the future. As I said, he’d forfeited that right! So, I guess I was making the choice to be the one to forfeit THIS opportunity…. either to beat him to what I saw as the inevitable conclusion or just to try and cause him some of the same pain… the same pain that molded my childhood. Most likely the latter of the two.

So, now I was trying to play a tit-for-tat game with him. Scared to really open up and let him in, because I’d been hurt SO much by him before… and trying to fight through and understand the hatred & resentment I was holding onto, for all he’d put his 1st born son through.

This little back and forth went on for several years… neither wanting to bow to the other. But what really made it so impossible to move past, was that during all of this… he had re-married and begun a new family. One that he tried to play Super-Dad with. That felt like a literal slap to the face… one that bit so sharply, that it was difficult to recover from.

This just created more of a disconnect for me, built on even more resentment that his new children were experiencing the Father I had prayed for. Instead I was a 5 yr old boy…. waiting all day for his Dad to come home on Christmas, to open presents… waiting because he’d spent the entire day opening presents with his girlfriend and her kids instead. This is 1 of the many memories, that became the bricks used to build the wall between us.

Then when I was given the chance to be a Father… I swore I would never be him, that I would always be there and never let her hurt like I did. And to this day… no matter what good or what bad I did, I always was a great Father…that is until I became the same failure, by leaving her alone when I came to prison.

But, before that happened… something changed. Maybe it was life-experience, maybe I matured or maybe it was being that father-figure myself. But, I allowed a real relationship to form and grow with my Dad… and for the 1st time in almost 3 decades, I felt a genuine connection with him. I had a Father I could talk to and rely on… these were both VERY new aspects to our dynamic, but it felt so good and natural when it happened. I was also able to see how he knew he’d fucked it up with me… which was why he so desperately fought to do better with his new kids. And I understood it. Shit, I wanted to do the same thing… to create a new start, to a new cycle.

As I said, this is a day that’s been full of mixed-emotions. There’s still the residuals of all the pain I felt growing up… then mixed with the joy of finally experiencing that genuine father-son bond… only to have that joy ripped-apart by the fact that it was so short-lived, after Cancer stole the Father I’d searched for for so very long! I can say this though… and mean it… no matter what ill-will I felt for my Father, what resentment I held onto for so long… I will cherish the relationship we’d built, no matter if it was 5 years or 50 years. Because I’d finally found the Father I had prayed for, for so many years! And I continue to pray that he is blessed and looking down on me now… knowing his son misses him and loves him!

Michael James Bowman Sr…In Loving Memory… 7/21/2010

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