“Another letter came for you in the mail today, Malcolm,” momma said. “It’s your father again.”
This had been the fifth letter I received in almost three weeks; the previous four letters proved to be his unsuccessful attempts at soliciting two of my four graduation tickets.
It had been about three weeks ago when the letters began, the first successful contact with my father since he ran off with another woman almost five years ago.
“Your graduation is right around the corner, Malc. You need to make a decision of how you’re going to handle your father,” my mother said as she handed me the letter. “There’s one more ticket left for your father, the other three are for me, your uncle and grandmother.”
I nervously opened the letter, anticipating the worst as each letter from my father progressively grew nastier in tone after the first.
This one began “I’m sorry” and concluded with “I love you,” an unexpected twist. It also gave news of his recent remarriage, his third in seven years.
I showed momma the letter.
“He’s trying to be friendly now momma, look,” I said. “There’s no name calling or anything this time, but he still wants two tickets for him and his wife.”
“I told you who was coming to the graduation, your grandmother and uncle deserve the seat more than a stepmother you’ve never met.”
With the help of my mother, I began crafting a response and enclosed the letter with a single high school graduation ticket.
I sent it next day air.
Graduation day finally came and there was still no word from my father.
“If he doesn’t come, it wouldn’t be the first time, Malcolm,” momma said before entering the auditorium. “You’ve made it this far without him.”
My eyes nervously searched the crowd for my father as I ventured across the stage to receive my diploma. First a glimpse of my mother, who blissfully cheered next to my uncle as he sat next to my grandma, whose jacket rested in my father’s vacant seat.
Disappointed, I began to brainstorm how I would respond to my father’s absence, while continuing my way across the stage to accept my diploma. Disgusted with my father’s inaction, I was preparing to send a final letter to break all ties with the king of neglect.
As I made my way downstage, struggling to hold my head high after years of parental neglect added several pounds of weight, I was preparing to have my picture taken for the local newspaper.
“Smile” shouted a large voice from the crowd.