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The time I didn’t recognize my dad

Before my old man passed, my son and I went to visit him in Florida. When I arrived at my dad’s complex I was walking towards his building and there was a man sitting up front. I didn’t look at or acknowledge the person I saw because I didn’t know them. All I saw was that there was a man sitting there looking at me and my son.

Later I realized that this was my father. He looked very different and was wearing a new style of hat. Once I realized it was my old man I felt pretty embarrassed but also sad that we had spent so much time away from each other that I didn’t even recognize him. My sister had sent me a picture of him some months back and I didn’t recognize him in the picture. His appearance changed a lot, he looked grayer and much older.

My dad moved to Florida because he had a problem with some gang members and he was afraid that they were going to kill him. One problem that my father always had was a very bad temper. He had a short fuse and he didn’t take shit from anyone. That obviously applied gang members.

When my dad was young he was a bit of a street entrepreneur so to speak. He had problems with drugs, people and he was no stranger to violence. To an old school man like him these were just young street punks. So when these gang members outnumbered and threatened him, my dad did not hesitate to pull a gun on them. “Le saque la perra!” However, once he got cool headed he was afraid of retaliation by the gang and this is why he left.

My dad knew that if they came after him he would have to hurt them or they would hurt him and he didn’t want to be in that situation. He’d already spent enough time in prison and he was trying to lead a good life. So he did what many have done before him in the face of imminent danger, he left the city.

It wasn’t the first time you know? We moved to NYC from Puerto Rico because my dad had problems with the law. I believe he shot someone, but he didn’t know if they lived or died. I could tell he was ashamed, but like I said, my dad had a temper and if you tried to hurt him he would hurt you. He was old school and street to the core.

When I bought his tickets to Florida, I remember thinking to myself that I would not see him as often as I did while he lived in New Jersey. Granted, I didn’t see him as often as I could or should have while he lived there, but I knew that now it would be years if my dad and I ever saw each other again at all.

Sadly, the only times I can recall seeing him in Florida were the times he was sick. I went over to check up on him and help him out. But that’s pretty sad y’all. The two times I saw him after he moved to Florida was when he was sick and then again when he was dying. It turned out just as I had expected. It is heartbreaking.

I really tried to keep a relationship with my dad and I tried calling him regularly. However, my father was not much for words, especially on the phone. One of the last times I tried calling him was during a break at work, and when I hung up the phone I just started to cry. I knew that he would probably die before we had a proper father and son relationship.

I guess it’s not entirely my fault that we drifted apart and I didn’t recognize him when I saw him that day. But I did feel terrible about it all the same. I am glad that we got to sit and talk a few times before he left us. My pops was not perfect, lord knows he wasn’t. But given his circumstances, he tried his best. That’s all one can ask for I suppose. RIP old man.

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