Roughly 28 years ago, on a Summer morning, I kissed my sons Dylan and Eamon good bye as they slept in their little beds in a home I shared with the woman who was my second wife. They didn’t wake and that was fine with me. I was, I knew, on my way to the county sheriff’s office, jail, and eventually prison. I also knew my wife – Cathy – would divorce me and do what she could to make sure that she and my sons would never have to be part of my life again.
I kissed the two kids goodbye and almost ran a mile or so from our house to a bar on a big highway passing through New Port Richey, a joint only a half-mile or so from the county sheriff’s office. I didn’t have a great deal of money but I did have enough to get drunk and that’s exactly what I wanted.
For the next three hours, I sat in the bar drinking vodka and grapefruit juice, my favorite early morning kicker. I smoked and joked and listened to the juke box and tried to pick up an old Cuban woman and drank and drank and drank. Finally, I ran out of money. I sat there for a moment wishing I had the guts to kill myself and then, knowing I had no real choice to do anything different, I left the bar and walked to the sheriff’s office.
I was drunk enough that I stumbled and fell in the parking area outside the office. Some officer knelt over me, thinking I might have been hurt, and then saw to it that I was immediately locked in a holding cell. From there, after three days of terrible withdrawal, I was shipped to the county jail in Dade City and, eventually, the state prison system. All because of little crimes I committed when I was drunk.
How about this? I forged five checks for a total of $30…all cashed at a bar where I spent a lot of time drinking. Anyway, this cost me a five-year sentence – that worked out to right at two-and-a-half behind bars.
Anyway. I figured for years, many years, that I’d never see my sons again. Cathy divorced me and I didn’t blame her. I still wasn’t much of a prize. She moved west to a place I don’t know and lived in a way I have no reason to understand. Once, though, one time after my time in prison, I was able to meet Dylan and Eamon again. It wasn’t much of a visit. Just two hours with two little boys who really had no reason to give a damn. That was a long time ago.
Then, about four years ago, things started to change. Eamon, my younger son, wanted to know me. We met and spent time together. He got married and since then I’ve grown to know his wife and, now, their little son, my grandson, the cutest kid ever born.
We see each other when we can. We love each other and we say it. I love his wife, Jennifer, and their baby boy, Ayden. But I haven’t seen Dylan, my first child, even once, for one moment, in a string of more than 20 years.
A couple of years ago we began sending rare e-mails. Eventually, he called and we spoke briefly. We grew slowly closer, not real close, but closer.
Sunday, I got to see him, his wife and his beautiful daughter, Chloe. My ex-wife Cathy was there too, along with her husband and Eamon's wife and child. This wasn't really expected. We were together for an afternoon. We talked a bit and had a couple of pictures taken. Before he left, I got to embrace him. I told him I love him and he didn’t answer but that’s okay. At least I saw him and talked with him and held him. I was with my first son. After all these years. Isn’t that something?