Yesterday, I put up a post of my conversation with my friend in which I mentioned late Aaliyah. I left out what we discussed about heavyweight R & B recording artist, R Kelly, and his Dad, which were major aspects of our discussion. What about R Kelly’s Dad?
Something I read about an absentee dad who visited his son in prison, in disguise pushed the discussion into that space. The gentleman had tried several times before then to make the move but the same demon that made him make light of the idea of leaving the young lady with the toddlers, many years earlier, was often back on his shoulders, insisting that leaving his young wife, was a better decision than staying with her and the children. At first, he tried feebly to reason with the demon but when he asked him if he was going to put up with her sharp tongue and lack of respect, he buckled. ‘Are you the only one with a low paying job? Why must she always make a mountain out of the situation? You told her to abort the baby but she insisted on having the child. She said it was her body. If it was her body, like she claimed and one over which she had complete rights, tell her, whatever you earned from work, was your money, and one over which you had complete rights too. Of course, you gamed her when you push the argument into that territory and you left.’
And he left home. Occasionally, guilt slipped in and held grounds for some time during which he would resolve to make amends but no sooner had he started on that path than he buckled yet again, fearing that things would be worse than they would have been the previous time.
But what was he doing in prison after all these years? When his decision to leave had allowed those harsh tendencies, deeply buried in the young man, to grow, develop wings, and flown in the direction of their destructive bent?
What did he think he could do now that his son was beginning to reap the consequences of walking the path he could easily have guided him from taking in the first place? And why the disguise? Oh, fear! Fear of what he would say. Or fear of what he would do. The same fear that made him forget he was in prison, a place where his son was under some physical restraint, limiting whatever physical action he could do to another person. But he had long yielded to the prison of fear. And so rightly did Julius Caesar say many years ago that cowards die many times before their death. How many times had he died? Does he even know if he died at all? Of course, he did. He did when he let fear imprison him and restrain him from carrying out his responsibilities. As Dad.
Dad is not a title. It is a duty. It is work. Every Dad at work is a top Dad. And every Dad at work is a specimen for the study of a special breed carrying all the fears in the stomach but performing the duties, nonetheless.