To The Grave

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An excerpt from "In The Name Of The Father" by Allyson Olivia

After Lester shared that memory with Joy, he realized most
of the pain of his past was still a problem for him. He never confronted Clifford about not being there for him, but he knew it was necessary and feared if he waited any longer it would be too late. Lester decided to visit Clifford one afternoon alone for a talk.
 
“Hey, old man. How you feeling?” Lester asked, trying to
make small talk.
 
“I’ve been better, son.” Clifford coughed like it pained him to
speak.
 
“You know I don’t know when the right time is to have this
conversation, but I wanted to talk to you about our relationship.”
 
“What about it?” Clifford sighed.
 
Lester stood over Clifford lying in bed, knowing this conversation
would be a waste of time, but he couldn’t leave until he got
this off his chest.
 
“Well, we didn’t have one. You were never there for me or any
of my brothers and sisters growing up. I want to know why.” Lester
rubbed his hands from his forehead to the nape of his neck
several times while he waited for a response.
 
“Why? What?” Clifford appeared irritated by the conversation
and shifted his body away from Lester and folded his arms.
 
Lester walked around his bed so he could see Clifford’s face
when he asked the question he’d held in for his entire life. “Why
weren’t you there for any of your children? Why weren’t you
there for me?” Lester knelt by his bedside, positioning his face so
close to Clifford’s his nostrils burned from the smell of alcohol on
his breath.
 
Clifford shrugged his shoulders, hoping Lester would leave
him alone. “I don’t know.”
 
“I’m not leaving until you give me an answer.”
Lester reliving all the memories of his childhood without having his
father around made him weep like the day he was shipped off to
foster care.
 
“I didn’t know how to be there.” Clifford sat up and leaned his
back against the wooden headboard to support him as he cleared
his throat. Reaching for a napkin to release the mucous in his
mouth, he spoke again after what seemed to be an eternity for
Lester. “My father was never there for me. In fact, I didn’t know
who he was and I never cared to find him.”
 
Lester was still kneeling by his bedside, clinging to every
word, searching for something that would help him move past
the pain he’d carried all this time.
 
“I didn’t look forward to being a father. I just happened to
have kids. Though I have a lot of kids of which I am proud, I don’t
know how to be a father to any of you. In my old age I feel it’s too
late to start. I apologize for not being there, but I couldn’t be what
I never had.” Clifford stared at the ceiling, avoiding eye contact
with Lester at all cost.
 
“Look at me. The very least you can do is look at me.” Lester
stood and wiped his face with a handkerchief he pulled from his
back pocket. “That’s just an excuse because I am the father I never had. You just didn’t want to try.” Lester stood over Clifford, ready to walk out the house and release the burden he’d been carrying for so long, but before leaving he leaned down and hugged him.
 
“I love you, Dad, and I forgive you. I pray you can forgive
yourself.”
 
Clifford broke down and cried on Lester’s shoulder. He tried
to hold his emotions in, but as he stared death in the face, he had
more bad days than good and he knew what he’d done to his children would follow him to his grave.
 
An excerpt from "In The Name Of The Father" by Allyson Olivia

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