“Damn, I reminded you two times”! she said. She turned away, folding her arms around her waist. Lately, it didn’t seem to matter. Garret, turned toward Tonya, raising his eyebrows with a quizzical look on his face.
“And the point is”? his arms flailed into the air. Tonya took a deep breath, willing herself to remain calm, or at least calm enough to not just knock his head off his broad shoulders.
“Garret”, she turned, stomped one slender petite foot on the ground turned to face his amused look. “You know”, she began. “You were suppose to be at the meeting last night, remember”? she said this last with contained rage. She pointed her slim finger in his face. He swiped it away.
“So I missed a meeting”, he glanced up from his chair to see her face suffused with anger. “You are angry over a meeting”?
“A meeting”, she regained her composure. “You missed”, she said in a hushed forceful voice. “A meeting, with OUR son, the Father/Son awards meeting”, she said the last in a louder much harsher tone. “He was sitting in the front row glancing at the door repeatedly when he saw any little movement.” she flared. “You were my life when we got married”, but you became a stranger after Franklin was born. You turned into someone else entirely, a ghost, inconsistent ass, a disgusting, it’s all about me attitude.” she said slowly, looking into the air, into a memory long past. “Out of that love we created a little human being, a boy, your son, MY son”. but apparently that wasn’t enough or important to you. Our son, Franklin Charles Montgomery. A gift from God”, flicking her tears away, her face contorted with anger. “We promised, in that moment we held him he was to be the most important person in our life, he was to come before anything or anyone else.” she slid to the ground, depleted, no longer angry, just spent. She wrapped her arms around her legs, resting her head on her knees. Almost inaudibly, she told Garret about the meeting that apparently was not important to him, but she sighed. “Franklin”, she whispered, closing her eyes and seeing Frankie, in her mind. “he watched as each father’s name was called, and the father met his son so he could pin his music ribbon on his chest. It was the Father/Son meeting, if you even recall or care, even now, but way too late”. she huffed. “His eyes darted feverishly looking for your face to appear. As he sat in that front row his eyes would meet mine, beseeching me, where’s dad?”, he seemed to say. Her tears flowed freely, her hushed tones recalled the pain she felt as she saw the pain and expectation on Frankie’s eager but confused face. “He was crestfallen. His eyes would dart around the room again and again, his eagerness waning.”, she raised her blouse to her face to wipe the tears from her face. “I could scream how loathsome you are”! But that would make me the bad guy”. she sighed in defeat. “Do you realize you are his hero, his best friend, he looks up to you with shining pride”. she glanced over to Garret to see if anything she had said affected him at all. “Why can’t you make him your priority”?. “Seven years, he has waited for you to make him your best buddy, but each time you disappoint him. After the divorce, he looks at your picture on his cell phone eagerly wanting to call, or hoping you would call him. He needs you. As sorry as I am to say that, God, if I could change anything about this mess we are in, is Frankie’s disappointments and silent tears, all due to your inability to make him the most important relationship. I can’t give him you, only you can do that”. she said in resignation.
“So, I am not dad of the year”, he said with some emotion. “Is that what you want me to say”? Garret proceeded. He was pissed at her for making him feel guilty or because he was mentally kicking himself. “There’s nothing I can do or say, now”. he voiced into the air. “I know I am not the Father I—-we envisioned. Hell I am turning out more like my old man. Worse, I swore I would never go there with my kids”. He shook his head back and forth trying to throw an ugly image from his mind. He got up from the table bench, walked away, then turned and kicked an invisible object on the ground. He abruptly sat beside her. “Frankie is important to me and I love him. Hell, I feel worse than this dirt we are sitting on. “How did I become my old man”? he spoke in a vague questioning voice. He put his head down into his large palms pushing his light brown hair from his face, his tears were salty tasting, as he let a tear fall upon his lips. “I know I really screwed up”. he glanced at her, face flushed and fused with emotion, as rivlet of tears wetted his cheeks. “I know I’ve disappointed him on too many occasions. But Father/Son music award meeting. I know I really screwed up”. Garret glanced at her pleading for her to look at him without disgust. “I remember all too well how I felt, every time my old man said—NO. The times he promised the world to me, but all I did was wait and wait, time after time, day after day. Until one final day I realized he would never keep any promise. A very sad and disillusioned time that was. I spent too many years forgiving him, with hope still burning in my soul”.
She felt his remorse, his anguish and his releasing of the past.
He said, “he’s gone. He’s never coming back into my life, into my heart and never again will I let him come into our son’s life through my endeavor to cling to a ghostly and hopeful past that never came to life”. He turned to Tonya, he held her hand in his, his eyes pleading to give him another chance to be a better father to their son and possibly a better man that Tonya would once again begin to love.
“Frankie needs you as YOU as his Father—-not the father, your father was to you”. She stood, her hand falling away from his. She looked down at him sitting there listening to his almost silent weeping. He shook his head up and down.
“Yes, I’ll be Frankie’s father, not the disappointing father that raised me. I will not pass that message of hurt and anger and the lost feeling of never getting what had been promised…but a Father that keeps his promises and his word. I’ll learn to be someone I have never had portrayed to me. I can do this”. Garret glanced up at Tonya.
“It’s time to be a man to your son, instead of a ghost of your father. “Your son needs you more than me, right now. He knows I’m here for him all the time. You will have to build trust with him and keep your promises, do not let him regret that he will be putting his heart on a platter for you to carry and take care of”. She touched Garret’s fine hair, falling slightly over his left eyebrow and gently brushed it away, gave him a slight pleading smile, then walked away.
“Yes, I can be a man and a real father to my son”, he thought, getting up, dusting the dirt from his trousers and putting a smile on his face. A real smile. It reached down deep into him. It felt good and he wanted his son to feel that same feeling too. He grabbed his cell phone from his pocket, stared at it, waiting, for what he didn’t really know, then realized HE had to make the first move, he was the adult, the father, the screwup, but hoping a slight chance might be a beginning to a new relationship.
“Frankie?” Garrett said. “I’m calling to apologize for not getting to your music award ceremony. Will you give me another chance? Can we begin again and become buddies?” Garret heard Frankie’s intake of air.
“Wow, dad, yeah, what can we do? Something cool? Play ball? Go to the park? Can I bring Rusty with us? He is my friend next door. He knows you. I want you to meet, he’s a good guy too.”
Garret listened in amazement at this child, his son, his excitement, his forgiveness without Garret even really saying, I’m sorry. He felt a huge tug at his heart and knew then that he would be his Father that kept promises, to love him, to be with him just so he himself could always hear that excitement in Frankie’s voice. So Frankie would never have to experience the type of disappointment that Garret had suffered at the pretentiousness of his old man.
The cell phone had gone dead and the event of the moment sunk in, two forty five, he thought, no time like the present.
He called Frankie back, “Will you or do want to, grab a pizza and go to the game room close to the restaurant,
“Wow, yes, dad that’s great.”
“And, your friend Rusty, see if he would like to come too.” Garret heard Frankie in the background as he yelled ALRIGHT!
Garret sauntered to his car, lost in thought, smiled and opened the car door. As he sat down he felt a weight drop from his shoulders that he wasn’t even aware was there. My son—MY SON. Garret put the car in reverse, backed out slowly as the awesomeness of the moment washed over him once again.
He would pick up a glove and ball on his way home, he thought, yeah, that would be nice.