CALL YOUR FATHER
by Henry Amador Batten
“Please call your father!”
That’s how my Father’s Day began, my first Father’s Day. With my husband telling me I should call my Dad.
My parents divorced when I was a baby, my Father was an absent figure for most of my adult life. In his true fashion he would pop in now and then and attempt Fatherhood, but never that well, and never for that long.
I grew into the man I am without him, and that’s always been fine with me.
October 27th 2011 was the most important day of my life, even more important than the day I married my husband. That day in itself was magical, but nothing compares to the day our son was born.
We had been introduced to a young woman who at 6 months pregnant had decided she did not want to keep her child. At 5 months she had attempted to terminate her pregnancy. However, not realizing how far along she actually was, she was unsuccessful.
When I look at our boy and imagine her waiting in the clinic to end his life my heart aches, I cry, I hold him, and I thank God.
“I am not calling my Dad,” I tell my husband. “I have never called him on Father’s Day, why should I start now?”
“Well because you’re a Dad now.” A statement he gently breaths as he leaves the room.
I’m a Father now. Hmmm…those words still stun me and yet warm me all at once. I had rekindled a relationship with my Dad just a couple of short years ago. We actually took a flight to my homeland of Puerto Rico to spend some time with him. It had been the first time I had seen him in nearly 25 years.
It was lovely and comfortable and simple. At 74, my father is no longer the absent man I had longed for.
He was now just a sweet old man that had suffered at his own hands for far too long.
At this point in my life, there are things I still can’t share about that visit, but suffice it to say, had my Father had the luxury of living his life truthfully, I would not be here to tell this story.
His birth was not without concern. His birthmother’s water had broken, unbeknownst to her. His heart rate had dropped so low that an emergency C-section was ordered or the baby could die.
We got a call that sunny afternoon, one month before our expected due date, that our son was coming that day, at 1:00 pm to be exact. Boy, what a pair we were, canceling our day, picking up our foster baby from daycare, making hysterical calls to family and friends, and running to meet our attorney at the hospital.
It’s all a blur right now. I remember the nurse asking, “Which one of you two Daddies wants to go into the delivery room?” Some how or another it was decided that it would be me.
Then I heard her ask, “What’s the baby’s name?”
Omg, his name! We thought we had a whole month left. We had a short list but we hadn’t decided. I looked at my husband and I said, “Since I’m going in for the birth, you pick.”
“Benjamin,” he said, “Can he be Benjamin?”
I looked at him and said, “Are you sure?” And then, just then, as I saw his tears gently roll down his face I knew how sure he was.
I turned to the nurse and declared, “Our son’s name is Ben.”
Getting ready to go in
“You know Joel, I really just don’t feel the need to call my Father, especially today, especially on Father’s day,” I said to my husband.
I wasn’t being petty or resentful, I truly don’t hold anything against my father, he made decisions 40 some odd years ago that were right for him.
The truths he shared with us on that fateful visit for all intensive purposes gave him a free get out of jail card, a victim of society, jailed by his own fears, his own realities.You can never blame a man for being true to himself, and my father was, is, nothing if not true to himself.
We got home around 7 from a full day out with our son. It was the perfect first Father’s Day and although my husband had hoped all day that I would call my Dad, I had not.
I was rocking my son to sleep when the phone rang. I reached for it without waking Ben when I heard my Father’s voice on the other end.
“Hello son,” he said. “It’s me, your Dad. I hope I’m not calling at a bad time, I was just calling to wish you a Happy Father’s Day.”
“No Dad,” I said. “Perfect timing. I meant to call. Happy Fathers Day to you too!”
Hmmmm… Life and it’s sweet, sweet ironies.
Henry Amador is the author of the DADsquared blog, where he writes about his experiences as a Gay Dad. Along with his husband, Joel, he also runs the DADsquared Facebook page, where they are devoted to building a community of loving fathers: gay, straight, black, white, and everything in between.