An Early Christmas Gift


Photo courtesy of Healthyblackmen.org.

Photo courtesy of Healthyblackmen.org.

A month ago I got a text from an unfamiliar number. No name came up because it wasn’t it my contacts.

“Hi, this is ‘Cameron,'” the text read.

Cameron? My son Cameron?

Another text popped up.

“I just got a new phone and wanted you to have the new number. And I want to hang out. Let me know when you are free.”

Folks who follow my blog know my relationship with my son has been shitty (Read the entries Faggot and  Troubles). All the bad things happening in his life, most of which are his fault, he has blamed on my leaving his mother and being gay.

So I have taken a hands-off approach. I pray for him every night and let God handle things. And I go and pick up my daughter, pay my child support on time, and try to be the best father I can to her.

So getting a text message from him out of the blue was surprising. Why did he want to meet me? To have another argument? To blame me for everything again?

But I went out on faith.

We arranged a Sunday afternoon date at the mall to watch Denzel’s movie, “The Equalizer.” All that week and earlier on Sunday I was a nervous wreck. It was like going out on a first date.

Would this be a good meeting? Or would it disintegrate into another brawl?

I got to the Mall first because he had to work a little late. I was glad to see him. He is working a full-time job now and had on a nice outfit and sneakers. He is a few inches taller than me and skinny like a rail like I was when I was his age.

And his eyes were clearer and his skin looked healthier. Was he cutting back on the weed?

“Hey good to see you. I already bought the tickets. What do you want to eat?”

“Hey Dad. Some nachos will be fine.”

“Cool, I got it.”

A scene from the Equalizer.

A scene from the Equalizer.

For the first half of the movie we sat, just enjoying the previews and the feature film and each others’ silent company.

The he turned to me in the dark and whispered.

“Dad, I really need to talk to you. Can we go out in the lobby?”

“Sure.”

We walked out to the lobby. I had no idea what was up. Had he brought me to the movies to reveal some really bad news? Was he going to jail? Was his girlfriend pregnant?

We walked to the lobby and I turned around and faced him and got right to the point.

“Are you okay son? Is everything alright?”

Tears well up in his brown eyes and his shoulders slumped.

He paused and spoke.

“Dad, I want to apologize. I’m so sorry for the way I have acted. I was wrong. I forgive you and please forgive me.”

And he broke down, sobbing. His shoulders heaving. I mean, he is 21 years old and taller than most men but it was like he was a little kid again, coming to me crying after he fell off his bike and skinned his knees.

The parents out there will understand what happens next. When your child is in pain you just react, you don’t think.

I took him in my arms and squeezed him tight. There were folks all around us in the movieplex, going back and forth to the bathroom and refill popcorn at the concessions. But it’s like they didn’t matter. It was just my son and me.

“Son, it’s alright,” I said rubbing and patting his back. “I’m so proud of you. You are working on getting your certification and you have a full-time job. You have always been a good kid. I always knew that. I love you.”

I held him a few more seconds and let him go.

Unfortunately or date didn’t last longer. He had borrowed his mother’s car and had to get home before the movie ended because she had to go somewhere and was blowing up his cell. I really don’t even think he told her he was meeting me.

“Okay, let’s hang out soon,” I said.

“Cool, let’s do that,” he answered.

So now I am taking it slow. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to rebuild a tattered relationship. We text and I check up from time to time. And I plan to hang out with him again soon.

I don’t need anything under my Christmas tree this year. I got the best gift a father will ever get in the lobby of movie theater in the Maryland suburbs between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.

I got my son’s love and an apology that erased all that has gone before. A new start. God is good, isn’t he?