They Come In Threes

Carl Rhem

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It wasn’t until I was around 8 or 9 that I learned that my brother’s father was not my biological father. My father had sent a card to my mother along with a picture, asking how the kids were and just wondering how we all were doing. I think my feelings about that at first was a little bit angry because I had been lied to, or something that important was hidden from me. It didn’t help that the years following he was not easy to contact. We never really knew where he was. The saying “Papa was a rolling stone” truly applied to him. By the time I hit my teens I remember him reaching out by mail again around my birthday. It was weird because he had sent a map of where I was located, indicating that he knew exactly where I was. However, by then I was not very interested in getting to know him. I had developed a nonchalant attitude to the fact that I had no father in my life. My brother’s father had lost my interest as well due to broken promises.

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We moved back to Philly when I was 15 and that’s when I finally got to meet him. The encounter was…I don’t know how to describe it. I was happy, a little excited, disappointed and weirded out all in one. First thing he did was hug me and kiss me on the lips. I was taken aback by that because here it is, I don’t know you and I’m 15 not a baby. He gave me all these things that I felt like were pass downs because I was his daughter. A guitar, artifacts, and a computer. We talked for awhile about our interest trying to build a connection, and then he told me that he would come see me the next day and take me out somewhere. He never came and he disappeared again.

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As I got older I realized (as much as I tried to deny it) that a part of the way I acted, the decisions that I made, all stemmed from me not having a strong and consistent father figure in my live. There were a few people that did what they could for the season that they were in my life, and I thank them for it, but it’s not the same. A friend of mine said to me when I was a teenager “You know you’re like that (fast) because you’re searching for love in men that you never got from your father.” I hated that saying and I wanted to believe with every part of my being that that wasn’t true. I wanted to believe that me not having a father had no affect on me. Well reality hit me. I’ll never forget one day my mother took me to see a dance recital called “Dance with My Father”. By now I was grown with a daughter of my own. As I watched the fathers swirl their daughters around pick them up and coddle them, I sunk down in my seat with tears rolling down my face. My mother, me, and my daughter all had missing fathers in our lives. It broke my heart and hurt me to the core. I silently cried the entire show. (I still have the DVD to the show, I refuse to watch it)

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When I was pregnant with my son, my mother had searched and got in touch with my father and gave me his information. This was two years ago, and my father was now in his 70’s living in a senior living apartment home. We talked frequently building a relationship, which also connected me with siblings I never knew I had. He apologized for not being in my life and I forgave him. I just wanted to move forward. He tried to tell me his life story almost every time we talked on the phone. I received pictures of him and my mother, family members, and pictures of him over the years. I quickly learned through our conversation that my father was adventurous, BLUNT, a handy man, a photographer, loved the water especially since he loved to fish, loved weed and alcohol, a free thinker, was an avid drug user back in the day, and looooooved women. Oh, and he hated needles. I appreciated his honesty with me, but I wasn’t happy about some of his stories and some of the things he sent me. I was disappointed in the fact that I never really had an idea of what type of man my father was nor envisioned him any certain way, and now that I knew who he was it wasn’t satisfying. We had a little disagreement, and by the time I had my son I was so occupied with him that I didn’t speak to my father as frequently as before. I realized that it was for the better that he wasn’t in my life when I was growing up. He said to me often that he did some things in his past that were bad and that he was a bad man. I continued to tell him that I loved him after every phone call.

October of last year my brother that I had grown close to, Carl Jr., called me and asked had I been in touch with our dad. Said he had been trying to reach him for the past couple days and wasn’t getting an answer. I tried calling and didn’t get an answer either. My mother called me shortly with the news that my father had been in the morgue for over a week. No one knew. The story goes that he died sitting on his couch in his apartment watching tv, alone. When they found him the tv was still on. I sat on the edge of my bed and cried so hard. The weeks prior he had sent me these homemade DVDs that he had made during some of his travels. Every time he called he asked me had I watched them, and my answer was always no. I felt guilty. I had planned on visiting Philly that fall/winter, but my funds just wouldn’t allow it, so I promised him that I would visit in the summer for my birthday. Now it was too late. The first and last time I saw my father I was 15. My brother Carl was beside himself, especially being that he was the closest to him than any of his other kids. Seeing him struggle with funeral arrangements, I found some cheap flights, took off work for bereavement, and flew to Philly for a week.

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I’ve Always Been A Cry Baby

It was crazy to me that here it is, my father never really did anything for me. At least not since I was an infant. And here I was helping clean his apartment and planning his funeral. It saddened me that this man sat in the morgue for over a week and no one knew. As a human being I still felt compassion for the situation. It was a weird feeling that my father’s death is what brought my siblings and I together to meet for the first time. Halfway thru the week that I was in Philly, and halfway thru many donations from my friends and family to help pay for my father’s funeral, my brother Carl Jr. drops a bomb on me about my father’s checkered past. His experiences as well as others. I reflected on my father’s words to me during one of our conversations, “I was a bad man”. The information that I received was not only heartbreaking but the timing that I received it was just all wrong. A part of me was a bit angry at my brother for telling me this during this time. I couldn’t help but to think if I knew what I know now before I took that flight, would I still have come? Would I still have cleaned out his apartment? Would I still have asked for money for his funeral? How would the people that donated feel if they knew this information? Then I thought about the worst thing that I’ve ever done in my life and the secrets that I hold. I thought about if it were me lying in the morgue for over a week, would I have wanted someone to have enough compassion for me to take care of my body and give me a proper burial. So, I pushed aside my feelings about the information and continued with the process of burying my father. The last day that I was there I was able to get in touch with Medicaid, they paid for his cremation, and I refunded the $900 that I had raised back to everyone. The funeral wasn’t until after I left, and my mother went in place of me, which was very big of her considering.

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When I got back home before I finished unpacking, I sat down and watched the homemade videos my father sent me. My daughter came in the room and hugged me while I cried some more. Like many others I’ll never know what it’s like to have a father. No matter what type of man he was, I can’t deny the fact that his blood runs through my veins. I didn’t hear too many bad things from my mother about him growing up and I thank her as well for offering her support given the circumstances. She was his ex-wife, she was abused, and she paid for his urn and held his flag during his military service. All I can say is Rest in Peace dad and I wish things would’ve been different.

George Gary

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When I think of George the lyrics play in my head “Diamond in the back, sun roof top, diggin the scene with a gangsta lean woo hoooo”. He always rode with his arm hangin out the window, bobbin his head to the old skool. Honestly, whatever old skool music I know, I know it because of him cause that’s all we listened to whenever we rode around.

George and my mother got together when I was around 7 years old and were together up until I was in middle school. He was the closest thing to a father figure that I ever had. I remember his house being our home away from home. Well they were engaged. We went over to his house every weekend and I was always excited cause I had my own room with a tv in it, he had cable and we didn’t, like really all the good stuff was at George’s house lol. He treated my brother and I like his own and we were a family. He took care of us. Even though it didn’t work out between the two of them (for reasons that’s none of my business) I know they loved each other and he taught my mother a lot. I remember her being annoyed because everywhere we went somebody knew George and he had to stop and talk to them for damn near an hour. We could never go any where and come RIGHT back home. Every time we got in the car it was literally a trip, nothing quick about it. I can still picture him drippin in jewelry, waves in his head, and smelling like Joop cologne. I remember being fascinated by all the things he had.

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In George’s Backyard

He was a good man. Even after him and my mother split, he still took me to school every morning and sometimes picked me up. Even after that ended I knew that if I ever needed anything I could call him. He lived down the street from us so he continued to drive by, honk the horn, and wave at us whenever he saw us outside. It was comforting to know that he still cared and was looking out for us.

Time went by, I grew up, moved away, and lost contact. When I first heard about George having health issues a couple years ago, I made sure to visit him while he was in a rehabilitation center recovering. I wanted him to know that I still cared even though I wasn’t in touch. Every now and then I would ask my mom how he was doing whenever he ran across my mind. On March 9th his niece messaged me on Facebook to let me know that he had passed. Of course I was very sad but it wasn’t until I attended the funeral and saw him that it weighed heavy on me. When I heard all the other stories from other people and just thinking about how he was good to us, I just broke down in tears. George was the best example of a man that I have to date. He worked hard and was a provider. He was stern but yet kind at the same time. I’ll always be grateful to him for that. Rest In Peace Georgy Porgy. P. S. He gave my mom the nickname BoBo which to this day I still have no idea where that came from.

Carl Jr.

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I’m still not over this. A day after attending George’s funeral, March 20th, I learned that my big brother Carl Jr. had passed away. I got up that morning, still with a heavy heart, scrolling Facebook and saw my brother’s picture posted with a caption that read “Rest In Peace”. It felt like my heart stopped. I thought to myself this can’t be true! NO!!!

The day that I met Carl Jr. he cried and he hugged me so tight. I’ll never forget that hug. From day one when we first spoke he always seemed so excited to have a little sister. Always genuinely concerned with how I was doing, how my kids were doing, and what was going on in my life. I never felt so close and connected to someone I only met a couple times in my life.

I know that Carl Jr. took our fathers passing very hard and a couple times he also pulled disappearing acts. Unfortunately, Dec 31st was the last time I had spoken to him. I had been angry with him at the time over a promise that he had made and didn’t fulfill. Even though I was over it soon after, I didn’t reach out to him and vice versa. I think he thought that maybe I was still angry with him, but I really wasn’t. By now I had planned on moving to Philly in the summer and planned on spending a lot of time with him when I got there. When I learned about how he passed I became angry. The selfish side of me felt like he left me behind and that he wasn’t thinking about how many people loved him. The selfish side of me felt like every time I get close to something, it’s taken away from me. That anger isn’t there anymore but I’m still very hurt behind it. I never thought I could miss someone so much that I hadn’t even spent a lot of time with. The memory of the last time I saw him still lingers in my mind. He hugged me so tight and said, “I don’t want to let you go”. I love you and really miss you Carl Jr. and I hope you know it. Rest in Peace.

5 thoughts on “They Come In Threes”

  1. Wow! Very heartfelt! Sincerest Condolences sent out to you. Thank you for sharing your story. As I read through, a myriad of mixed emotions hit me. I felt sadness, anger, joy, and hope. Continue to press forward being the “BEST YOU” for your daughter reflecting on the good of your experiences with your dad, role model of a dad and your brother. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing. I have 3 boys (8, 4, and 9 months)….I started thinking about my childhood with my Dad before and after my parents’ divorce when I was 13. Your story reminded me that they are watching and learning from every decision, reaction, and vibe that they observe from me.

    Liked by 1 person

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