Yesterday I wrote about Caleb meeting his father for the first time. The experience was so moving I wanted to share it immediately, as to not forget the finer details and feelings of it. I’m afraid in my attempt at sharing it, possibly before I could really get my head totally around it, the blog was more of a long-winded rant than a well thought out, nicely written piece. Sorry for that. But there’s also an aspect of the story I forgot to share.
Caleb getting to meet his father, for the first time since he has been capable of putting words with more than two syllables together in a properly formed sentence, was not the only good thing that happened to him that day. He also received a fairly simple piece of information which seemed for him to be the equivalent to the Buddha’s enlightenment. It happened on the drive home, through casual conversation with his grandma. She said to me, part earnest and part jokes, “Caleb tells me he has a girlfriend around the corner from where he stays. I told him he must bring her around for me to check her out before they can continue.” Caleb did this little teenage eye-rolling mixed with a smile mixed with a nervous laugh, with a slight awkward sigh turned fake yawn.
“I know they’re making out! And he’s way too young for that!” she shrieked. Caleb’s light brown skin turned dark reddish brown. He laughed shyly in disagreement. “Yeah, he told me about her. And I already told him he is way too young to be a father, and he better not try anything too soon.” Caleb’s grandma took a quick gasp in and was speechless, probably for the first time that day. “I never thought of that!” she said, not even considering sex as an option for her lanky teenage grandson. Oops, I thought. “Well, you know the kids of today!” I said like a 72-year-old man. She confirmed her knowledge of the “kids of today” and went on to speak about Caleb’s mother, mentioning that she was only 15 when she had Caleb. His eyes widened and he looked over at me, there was a certain twinkle in them, mixed in with the shock of this, apparently new, information. He didn’t say anything at that point and the conversation drifted on to other things.
As Caleb and I drove away form his grandma’s house, and after we had had a chance to speak about the whole father experience, he said, “Yho! And I can’t believe my mother was only fifteen when she had me! That’s the first time I’d ever heard that!” There was a strange hope and comfort in his voice. I said, “Yeah, that’s pretty unbelievable. But it makes a whole lot of other stuff make sense to me.” He nodded in agreement as though he we shared the exact same thought, or even brain. I continued, “I mean, you’re sixteen now. That means when your mother was your age she had already had you for an entire year!” Caleb shook his head in disbelief, “Yho!” I let it sink in for a second or two, “I mean… do you feel mature enough to raise a kid right now?”
Caleb laughed and shook his head adamantly, “Pssht! No ways!!!” His head continued to swivel in both disbelief and understanding. I looked at him, “You getting removed from her care at such a young age makes a lot more sense doesn’t it?” For maybe the first time Caleb realized his mother was not a bad mother, and he was not a bad kid, causing his removal from her care; she just had him at a very young age and was probably experiencing the rebbellion and immaturaty that he now knows well. He looked at me with a look of relief as he said yes. And at that very moment his entire aura changed; I think it was merely a manifestation of his entire internal world shifting. The dark, black and grey thunderous clouds parted, making way for the beautiful blue sky with the sun sitting high, shining warmth in places deprived for far too long; not a corner or crevice was spared light. The unstable tectonic plates that had been forever shifting beneath him, causing constant tremors, rumblings and quakes, fell into place and the earth seemed to fall to its most stable position as the dust settled from years of trembling. Caleb’s life soundtrack shifted from the sinister low, bassy strings and obo, foreshadowing something terrible in the near future, to a hopeful refrain played by high strings and flutes; the kind you hear in a movie when everything begins to work out for the hero.
At that moment life seemed a lot more fair to Caleb; or at the very least it made more sense. This new information gave answers to questions he did not even realize he was asking, or at least ones he had never articulated. Feelings of unexpressed resentment, anger and bitterness Caleb had stored against his mother all the years began to evaporate. Guilt he has always carried on his shoulders, the idea that maybe his life’s state was his fault, lifted graciously. His head sat higher, his shoulders broader, his lips formed a pleased smile, and his eyes gleamed with hope. And though I knew it wouldn’t be long before his hormonal teenage mind told him life was “effed up”, for some reason that was probably too small for such a bold statement, I could see that, at least for now, the effed-upness of life had drastically let up for Caleb, and something within him was forever changed for the good.
If meeting his father for the first time began to bring a sense of resolve to his struggle, this information about his mother brought Caleb liberation that just might just have ended that particular battle; it might have set him free.