The Father


Tyler Phillips, Writer

LittleJoe Junior Cross (not kidding that is his name) is my true father or dad.

It was Friday of Thanksgiving break. So, I went to this party. I just came from this basketball game (that I played in; I know it is hard to believe). I was all sweaty and tired. I was going to this party for my second cousin is 6 or 7th birthday. I was 11- or 12-years, I was just starting puberty, and did not want to be around people unless I had to. I saw most of my family at the party, along with a lot of kids. Lots of kids. But at least there was food.

“When can we eat,” I said selfishly not thinking about anyone else.

“Grab a plate, and fix you something to eat,” Weasel my cousin’s husband’s mother said. There was Little Caeser’s pizza, pepperoni, and cheese pizza. I waited a little bit because it seemed like all the kids were still running around and playing. I tried to find my very uplifted and hyper second Cousin Patience. I found her running around with the other kids.

“Hi patience,” I said to her but no answer because she was busy playing with her friends and family. I later got a hug from her when it was time to eat. I sat down with the people that I lived with and ate some pizza. We later opened presents and ate a princess-themed cake. How pink! Later everyone was all tuckered out, we started to pack up and head out to our cars, we had a tan, brown Kia soul that was small but big enough.

“Bye you guys, thank you for coming,” Morgan my cousin said.

“Thank you for inviting us, it was fun,” My mom said as she was eager to get to the car.

“Yes, it was fun, bye Patience, Happy Birthday! Bye you guys, see you later.” I added walking backwards towards the car. As soon as we got in the car, I heard my nana say with enthusiasm, “Well that was fun.”

“Yes, it was. My mother and designated driver answered. We started to drive down this spiral hill that always made me nervous. A few seconds later my mom got this call from this random number she did not want to answer it with me in the car. She parked the car on the side of the road. And checked her voicemails. Me being the little nosy one that I am, I eavesdropped on it All I heard was this little scruffy female voice (that I know to be my other grandmother on my dad’s side, I call her Shirley or Mema).

All I heard from the voice mail was, “Hey Jessica this is Shirley…He’s in town until Sunday, if you want to come and see him.” My mom had this suspicious smile on her face.

“What was that about,” My nana asked to mom as she was getting back in the car.

“We’ll talk about it later,” My mom said in a tone that made me sense that she wanted to talk about it in private.

It made multiple situations and thoughts pop into my head, “Could mom be dating again, could she be contacting old acquaintances, could someone be dying, di, did she strike a deal on the illegal market, could someone from my side of the family be trying to reach me.” The list goes on. I kept on thinking until I fell asleep on a rough car window. I got home, ate, then went to bed because I was tired.

2 days later (no I did not sleep for 2 days), my mom came into my room to try and wake me up. It was the middle of the afternoon, she yelled at me until I was awake, “Tyler, Tyler, Tyler, Tyler,” I began to awake, I suddenly heard more clearly with my eyes open a little bit, “Tyler, are you going to get up?”

“5 more minutes,” I asked with a whine in my tone?

I then heard as I turned over from my mother, “All right but if you’re not up, say what time is it now, 12:25, we’re not going anywhere.” I had a sudden sense of curiosity. I got up almost at once, like Mom knew would be interested to know where we were going.

“Why, where are we going,” I asked with confusion. I had no plans that day, just to relax and play video games, snack and binge watch some tv.

“I can’t tell you; you just have to find out. Pack yourself a bag, I don’t know how long of a car ride it’s going to be,” My mom commanded. We then bickered for a couple of minutes about me asking,” Where are we going” and her just saying, “I can’t tell you; you just have to find out.” I then gave in to the spontaneity and got dressed and packed a bag. It had a book, a phone, charger, a shirt and some pants. Little did I know it was going to be a short ride. Me and my mom got into our short kia soul and set off into the world and I just tagged along, so I thought. A few moments later, we were riding through an old neighborhood that we used to live in when I was a smaller child.

“Where are we, and why are we here,” I asked while my mom pulled into the driveway of a big fenced in yard. I saw this mobile home that was not so mobile. It had this messy look on the outside.
“You know how are always asking about your father,” My mom asked?

“Yeah,” I answered with confusion and suspicion.
“Well, Joe is in town for a couple of days and he’s here and would like to meet you,” My mom said with happiness in her voice.

I was just thinking like a teenage girl that is about to go on a date with her crush, “What should I say? Why did I wear this, what should I do?” I began to overthink and get anxious.

My mother told to calm down, “You need to calm down, we don’t have to do this if you don’t want to or you’re not ready.

Like I had a choice, there was women, that I now know to be my aunt Dede, standing outside the screen door. She called to someone saying, “Someone is here.”

I remember walking up the steps with my basketball jersey and these red shorts that were almost too small for me. My legs were shaking with nervousness. I walked into a small living room, there stood (and) a whole new family.

Walking in there I could smell the essence of redneck and candles. 1 of my uncles was there, it was nice meeting him. Before the big thing happened, everyone told me that I looked just like him as a child.

“How are you,” my uncle Robbie asked me.

“I’m doing alright, what about you, “I answered as I heard footsteps in the distance. As the footsteps got closer, I looked over at this beaten-up man. He had a lot of scars from skin cancer. We locked eyes for a minute, “Thats him,” I asked my mother.  She shook her head yes. I had to stop myself from making a smart remark about how he looks, but I did get to make him laugh because everyone said he has a contagious laugh. He sat down but not before I could hug him. I hugged him tight like he wasn’t going to be there if I let go. I had to let go so we could conversate.  I asked him about his new wife, and his side of the story. He told me his side of the story, and other things I’m not going to get into.

“Go ahead and tell him a joke,” My mom looked at me with eagerness, because of his laugh.

“Okay I got one,” I said.

He then said, “Okay shoot.”

“Knock knock,” I said.

“Who’s there,” he answered?

“Boo,” I said.

“Boo who,” he answered?

“Don’t cry it’s just a knock-knock joke.” I shot the punchline. He then busted out in a low kind of laugh that got louder.  Everyone in the room couldn’t help but laugh, even me.

Then the time I was dreading I teared up on the inside, he got up to go smoke. My mom followed. The more awkward conversation questions came.

“So where do you go to school,” His wife, Darlene, my other mama (as I like to call her reasons I would not like to get into) asked as was shy and forcing myself to answer the question?

“Cartersville,” I answered (finally).

My aunt Dede asked me, “What kind of things do you like?”

“I love superheroes, like Marvel and D.C., I like Pokémon, among other things,” I answered as I knew the answer to the next question coming.

“Who’s your favorite,” Aunt Dede asked?

“Flash is my favorite from the D.C. Universe, and my favorite from the Marvel universe is Deadpool. Deadpool is my favorite out of the 2,” I explained.

They came back in, my mom stayed standing up, while my 2nd most memorable moment with him out of 4 happened. Joe sat down as he finished coughing, my mom told me, “Tyler we have to leave in a few minutes.”

I realized that My dad was trying to say something meaningful and deep, I looked and listened to him until he finally said something, “You know I love you son, don’t forget that.”

I answered, “I love you, too Dad.” I was saddened because I knew what was to come next, I had to leave. I got along with Joe, we hugged, I hugged him tight again as I would never let go. We got pictures of us hugging along with me hugging Darlene and both of them together. We exchanged numbers then I had to leave to go do other things.

Christmas break:

Dream state: It must have been Saturday or Sunday of Christmas break, it all felt like a dream, oh but it was real. My mom tried to wake me up. I woke up a little bit, but I was asleep. I heard my mom say with a crack in her tone, “It’s your dad, he’s in the hospital, he uh um he passed.” I wasn’t awake enough to care, I just said, “oh okay.” My face hit the pillow, as I fell asleep.

That Monday I tried to make a joke, but only made myself sadder by the thought of it, “I can wait till the funeral.”

“I know Tyler, I know,” My mom tried to reassure me.

About half a week later, I was dressed up in a white dress shirt with jeans. I was a bit depressed about the funeral that day. We stopped for food because we had a road trip. When we got there was this whole other side of my family, I saw my half-brother Kadus Mohen, he was cool. Then came the most dreadful part of the whole funeral. Seeing him. I saw my dead father just lying there, a soulless cold body. But I won’t bore you with the details. I saw him and I touched him, Then I just broke down and cried and cried. Then I stopped crying because my mom took me outside to calm me down. When the funeral started, I started crying some more. I know what you’re saying right now, “Why did this death affect you this much. You barely knew the guy.”  I don’t know why, but I did know he was my father and this guy tried to get to know me and I couldn’t stop crying.

This death affected me mentally and physically. It made me have more emotional outbursts and sometimes lash out with anger. Life wasn’t easy, and people at school weren’t helping, neither was my home life. Though I was mad at Joe for leaving, I still cared about him and people talking about him in front of me is a great way to be knocked unconscious.