When I heard that my dad would be coming to my graduation, I was honestly shocked. I didn’t expect him to want to spend the money, or even his time, to come to Virginia from Mississippi for someone who isn’t even his biological daughter.
Now I must tell you the difference between my father and my dad. My father got my mom pregnant and my dad spent a few years loving me and raising me as his own. Two different men. Two different respect levels. And similarly to a biological father, once a “dad” earns his title as such, it cannot be lost. No matter what happened to cause me to not expect him to come see me graduate high school, he already earned the name and the right, and no one has come yet to sweep it away from him, although a couple wonderful men were close.
We clearly have a lot of differences, my dad and I. It was always apparent to me that he loved my sister more than me, something that can be touched on at a later time. But he definitely has me on his mind. Me. Of all people. A little black girl that he has absolutely no obligations to care for. And he came to my graduation.
It was hurtful that he planned it around a small vacation they were trying to take to D.C., making it seem as though it was a convenient stop along the way. But it was still huge.
I love him for it.
My mother was planning a huge trip as a graduation gift for me and my best friend back to my home state, Hawaii. So we were all frantically trying to save enough money by June 10, 2013. That was the big day.
While all my friends were receiving money as graduation gifts from their families and friends, I received a huge expensive trip from my mother and…a set of suitcases from my dad.
Being the huge brat that I was during my teen years, I was quite disappointed, wishing instead that he would have given me the money that he spent on the suitcases. They were actually excellent quality. They had wheels that swiveled on four corners and a beautiful design. There were 5 of them ranging in sizes and came with a laptop case as a well. It must have cost quite a few dollars. But this wasn’t enough for me.
I remember his reasoning for getting me this particular gift. He clearly noticed my dislike for it and felt the need to explain, which I now feel great guilt for. He said that it was for wherever my life may take me.
Turned out, when my mother and I dramatically parted ways, involving me to hastily pack my belongings and leave my home to live with my best friend and his family, only the things that would fit into those very suitcases were permitted to leave with me.
This thought sends chills throughout my body. It’s a mixture of guilt, sadness, and gratefulness all racing around my mind. Guilt of course for not being grateful for the gift when I received it. Sad that I only appreciated it when it benefited me in the most important way. And grateful now that I have many things because of the size and amount of suitcases that came in that set. Because even now I am unable to get any of the belongings I used to call mine that got left behind at my mother’s house.
Often I think about calling or texting my dad to let him know how great of a gift it turned out to be. But my pride and hard-headedness (and fear) get in the way. Where can the conversation go from there? Of course we’ll be doing a lot of catching up. The last time I saw him was when I graduated. Will he like who I am now? Will he judge where my life has taken me and what I ended up using his gift for? Am I over-thinking this, like I do every little thing in this world?
FEATURED IMAGE FROM ALLEN HANCOCK COLLEGE