The magic of fatherhood found me back in 1979 when my son Maurice was born; here he is at an age somewhere between birth and 3 years. I have always been lousy at dates and birthdays and still don’t get why people chose to scold me when I forget their birthdays. I think people should just announce it when it happens or is getting close to that date in order to prepare people who might want to buy a gift or throw a party.
Maurice’s life sort of started off a lot like mine, only I had the absence of a father where he had the absence of a mother. It seemed when he was born the relationship between his mother and me started to erode and shortly into his life the relationship ended and subsequently he came with me. I had not a clue about being a father, so I just begin our life with the love I had for him, also my family helped. Here he is then sort of grown and still living in the family home I left behind. I had chosen to move back to Bermuda, my home of birth, back in 2004 after loosing my girlfriend Pam in an auto accident, the emotional trauma was too much for me to burden and so I thought there in Bermuda I could find the inner peace I needed.
Here I am back then when we first began our little single family, only by then I had met Susan and the three of us became a full family. Susan couldn’t have children, and Maurice was without a mother and together we all sort of just fitted perfectly, pieces glued together with love. I was different then, more focused on University, and trying to build my million dollar business and in so many ways I was failing as a father, I just sort of thought fatherhood was an automaticity: (the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit.) I did all the things father’s do, I attended his school as an aid twice a week, helped with homework and showed love in every form as we interacted, but I also spent a lot of time on myself which meant I abandoned him more frequently than I should have. I thought since Susan was there things would be okay, but then after a couple of years I noticed that Maurice was becoming more hers and less mine and he showed it in an almost undetectable way, he was brilliant. There were times I’d take him to a toy store shopping, telling him to pick out anything he wanted, only to see he suddenly had no interest in toys, at least the one’s I was peddling. He was hurt and I let him down.
After I had been in Bermuda for a few years these little guys came along, they were the reincarnation of my living son; his two sons, my grandsons. It was amazing looking at them and seeing him. Maurice had become me only he was himself. Now he was the father, quietly merging into that position I once occupied and probably making a better go at it than I did. We often chat through WhatsApp making all kinds of plans to reunite one day, but the more we plan the more the years just seem to slip by and nothing happens. I offer to buy him and the boys a ticket to visit and though it sounds good to him I can’t help but think some part of Maurice is not with me, that special part that bonds a son and father. You see father’s are not born they are made of the substance of their father’s. The mechanics of being a great father lies in the teaching and learning; the interaction between the father and son. The slightest deviation from the path of fatherhood can cause irreparable damage, humans are so susceptible to the slightest variation in the relationship, especially children. My father was not around when I was a kid, he left me and my mother for whatever reason untold, but I ended up with a stepfather and though he was great, I think the absence of my natural father had a lot to do with my faults as a father.
Here is Maurice and his family today. A wonderful son and man reflected in the beauty and cohesiveness of his little family. Through some of our talks he has mentioned that his foundation for being a better father was based on doing what I didn’t do, or not doing what I did. We chat often now and the content of our conversation has become more intimate. There was never any true animosity, as I say the somewhat slight details of my shortcomings were not so beastly as to screw him him up in a bad way, but just enough to cause a little pain, but we all find that in almost every family. I love my son deeply and hope that other father’s will come to see the importance and splendor that comes with being a father. Maurice and I are still evolving and I feel that in him lies a great deal of me and that I was a good dad, he says it all the time. I read a quote once by a famous poet and author, Maxine Kumin: “It all begins with the Father.”