Sunday, September 16, 2007

20 Years (Father)

In the past, I haven't given September 16th much thought at all. It came and went without much notice. (Most of the time, it was during a work week anyway.) But this year, the date holds a significant milestone for me. As much as I tried not to think about it, it kept poppin up in my head, and I even had to remind my brothers about it. For it was on this day, 20 years ago, that the man we knew as our father went into eternal rest. I was only 9 years old at the time. And like anything else traumatic that happens to you when you are a child, it is a day I will never forget. But first, a brief overview of my father....

William Howard Brunson was fun to be around and seemed happy to all those who came in contact with him. (My brothers and I never called him Dad; we always called him Bucky. I never knew why, and we never questioned it.) But he was also a man who was battling some serious demons in his life. He had spent about 15 years of his life in prison from the time he was about 19. After being released from prison, he met my mother, had my brother, got married, and had me, all in about a 4-year span. (My oldest brother is from another man, but Bucky raised him as his own.) I remember my father having only 2 jobs: one was at Consolidated Laundries, where he would ship towels, sheets, etc. to various companies, and another at Biase's Restaurant, where he worked as a cook. Both were located in Newark are no longer in existence. He was hard-working man, but he also battled a serious alcohol addiction, something that started when he was young. I would remember times when he would drive me around and drink, or times when he just plain forgot to take me somewhere cause he would be too drunk to remember. At times, my brothers, mother and I tried to curb it by pouring out all his liquor one day. My mother even took him to rehab, where he stayed for a few weeks. But it wasn't all bad times. I also remember good times at beaches, amusement parks, and even home. He loved to cook, dance, and just plain have a good time and always enjoyed the pleasure of company. He was a fun-loving man, but I can't really say he was loving. I don't ever remember a time when he said he loved me, or even displayed some type of emotion. This sometimes confused me, because I couldn't understand why. And like most black families, my brothers and I got a big-ass helping of ass-whuppins and punishments whenever we did something wrong. At night we would lay in our beds and say, "I hate Bucky! I wish he was dead!" That wish proved prophetic.

On that previous Friday before this date, Bucky spent most of the day vomiting and laying in the bed. My brothers and I did not know what to do. When my mother came home from work that day, we told her that he was in really bad shape, so she rushed into the room and immediately took him to the hospital.

That was the last day I ever saw him alive.

A few days later, I was told he had slipped into a coma (I didn't know what it was back then). And then on Tuesday night back in 1987, around 6:30PM, my mother came home from the hospital devastated and told us, "He died. He didn't make it." The years of alcohol abuse had finally taken a toll on most of the organs in his body. First she hugged my oldest brother (15 at the time), then my middle brother (12 at the time). I ran into the bathroom to wipe my tears on my towel, then came back to hug my mother. Contrary to what some people say, KIDS UNDERSTAND DEATH! We knew that our father was gone and was not coming back.

I remember his wake (sooooooo many people were there), but we could not go to his funeral, which was located at a church. At the time, my mother was a Jehovah's Witness, and they do not deal with churches in any way. So my mother, her friend, my brothers and I stayed in the family car while the funeral was taking place inside. It seemed like forever, but the people finally came out hugging and consoling each other through their grief. We got to the gravesite, and I stood in the front with my grandmother's (father's mother's) arms around my shoulders. One of the Jehovah's Witness elders make some remarks, then they lowered my father six feet below to his (final?) resting place. As we drove away from the cemetary, the thought of not having him around once again hit me, and tears slowly came to my eyes.

Now that I'm a grown man and had 2 decades to reflect on this day, I've discovered one thing that I either kept hidden or just plain didn't realize: my father inadvertently passed along his trait of not allowing people to get too close to him. He tried to shield himself (with alcohol) from what he didn't want to face (life?). Don't get me wrong, I'm a chill, down-to-earth dude with quite a few friends. But I do not allow a person to know everything about me. At times, I find it difficult to fully convey what I am feeling, especially to a man. Hell, that's most likely the reason why I have never been in a serious relationship. I'm scared to let my guard all the way down to let someone in. Am I angry for what my father may have done? No. I don't hold long grudges against people, and he wouldn't be able to see or feel my anger anyway. Madonna made a song years ago called "Oh Father," and one of the lyrics read, "Maybe somebody/When I look back I'll be able to say/You didn't mean to be cruel/Somebody hurt you too" I'm sure there were many things my father was hurting about (trying to make something out of his life after serving time in prison, trying to provide for his wife and children, just trying to be a responsible man in general). Even now whenever I hear this song or "Dance with my Father," the words hit hard and deep. Somtimes I can't even hear the entire songs without tearing up or just turning it off. Guess I realized I love and miss my father more now than I ever did before.

December 8, 1939 - September 16, 1987

9 comments:

fuzzy said...

Wow your dad woulda been 1 year younger than my dad!

Dance with my father doesn't hit me like it hits you. I Think of my mother when I hear that song and it has a great affect on my mood any time I hear it. I even posted about once I think... not sure.

My Father is smoking his life away and I dont know what to do about it. He's killin himself in front of me and I dont know what to do.
...

I wanna say hold your head up, but you probably still hear that and/or have told yourself that already. I could say its gonna be alright, but I wouldn't be speaking from personal experience. I dont know what else to say but hope tomorow has a better thought pattern than today!

Promiscuous X said...

I know it took a lot for you to write this blog. I commend you for that. I can relate in a way. My dad (disciplinarian) drinks a lot as well. That's were I get it from. When I was lil me an my brothers would say we hate our father too. We almost lost him 2yrs ago but not cuz of alcohol, but because dumb ass was at the bar with friends an decieded he wanted to get his colon cleaned (my dad 35 at da time). He got it done and 3days later, he's bleeding out his ass losing blood and having ceisures. It was a Scary feeling. Fathers always tend to b the hard 1's. They show us tough love. It only prepares us to b strong men, we show very few emotions, always have our guard up. Your right all that kinda prevents us from being in relationships. I'm pretty sure if your dad was alive he would tell u how proud of you he is an tell you that he loves you. Men tend to develope stronger bonds with there fathers later on in life. Just speakn from experience.

Jay said...

After reading your blog I have decided to cut back on my drinking. You were definitely right when you said I would understand and get this post. This post touched me not simply because my pops passed away two years ago, but, because of my relationship with my father. Man you can come out of your fathers shadow if u want to, it will take time and work.
Love you man

ShawnQt said...

After reading your post I realized why not having my father in my life hurts me. It is because he never communicated that he cared. What ever insecurity or hurt that we went through or was going through, he never shared with me. He didn't allow his own son in. Kids do understand, and you should talk to them about good and the bad... but men have prides and ego, and I think ego won with my dad, and I lost a relationship because he only though about himself.

ShawnQt said...

TAKE THE CHALLENGE!

bLaQ~n~MiLD said...

Hmmmmmmmm...very interesting.

Interestingly enough, my pops is around. Our relationship is one in which I recognize him as the sole contributor of sperm, but not as my 'Father/Dad'. My mother and he divorced when I was about 2 and have had a rocky relationship all throughout my younger years to present day. I used to harbor animosity towards not only him, but my two younger brothers for having 24/7 what I was never able to have...my pops around. But I honestly got over it as the years came and passed and my accomplishments began to mount. He doesn't impact my life and we honestly talk maybe three times a year. Holiday's come and we may talk if I catch him and he's not working. When he passes I will be hurt yes, but there's a part of me that kinda feel's like my father died a long time ago. My 'Pop' (as I call him. DOn't know if he notices but I never call him 'Dad' or 'Father) is just a figurehead to me...placed here for some reason. Sad but true.

Dayne Avery said...

This blog was deep and it shows some insight to your character for being able to write this. Thanks for sharing it might help people like me reevaluate their relationships with their fathers.

ponoono said...

That was actually a loving wonderful memorial to your dad.

Rahman said...

Jerz. . . . you did that man. That was truly from the heart. You see it's those expereinces that make us who we are today. They don't define us but it is how we deal with them that really does.

Keep making Daddy proud and let his life continue to be a lesson.