By Karen Gordon
Last week, I posted a question to my Facebook…just because. It read, ”If you could sit at the feet of anyone you admire or look up to either dead or alive, what three questions would you ask them?”
A handful of responses trickled in, but one floored me. It was from my 25 year old son Malcolm (the subject of the question would have been his father, who passed away three years ago).
Malcolm commented, “Why didn’t you come to any of my graduations?
What really happened? Why weren’t you there when I was born or whenever I really needed you?”
I’m still processing it, so all I can share here is my response. Why even share that? Maybe it’ll help put things into perspective. I don’t know.
I became a mom at 21 and though I feel I have a second chance to get a few things together with Clarence and Scoot, I still feel guilty that I couldn’t give my other boys the same kind of life.
I won’t attempt to speak for Malcom’s father because he’s no longer here, but if you were asking me those questions then the short answer is this: Malcolm, I was selfish and immature. I was too proud to ask or demand help with you and Chris, but not above taking advantage of my mother and siblings.
But once you were teens, he wanted you two to come and live with him. I wanted that too, but ultimately I refused. I didn’t know what I’d do without you. I had no identity other than being your mother…regardless as to how much of a struggle that was. But I also wanted him to suffer. I wanted him to pay for all of that anguish, anxiety, uncertainty that I’d felt for 12 to 13 years. Right! Selfish!
The job-hopping, eviction notices, maxed out credit cards, overdrawn bank accounts and the need to construct our social and personal lives around church (because after all my work schedule was a convenient reason as to why I couldn’t let you play sports). But truthfully, we didn’t have health insurance until I got married. I simply couldn’t afford for you to get hurt. I couldn’t afford for ANY of us to get hurt. However, in a weird twist of fate, we were all damaged.
There’s more…a lot more. On the surface, (in Facebooklandia & Instaville) it appears that we are having the time of our lives here, but we miss you and Chris. Not just because you’re not around, but also because I don’t know how to fix what’s broken. I accept responsibility for that.
Let’s get together soon. I love you. Oh and by the way, call your Grandma. Heck, call me too! Miles before we sleep…
Karen Gordon is a singer, songwriter and the founder of Garden City Jazz. She works with the City of Augusta to present the Candlelight Jazz Concert Series each year and has partnered with RCBOE to develop interactive courses such as Taking Notes: Jazz & The American Story and Jazz4Kids.
This article appears in the September 2017 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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