I never knew my Dad.
I MET him twice, before going to identify his body when he died.
But the things I KNOW about him? They are far and few in between.
The first time I met him, I was 19 years old.
I was scared, having just left home after living a very sheltered life.
As weird as it seems now, I had never been to New York.
I got a phone call that my Dad, my biological Father was in a hospital in Harlem and wanted to see me.
All I knew about Harlem was limited to “Across 110th Street.”
Not going didn’t seem like an option. But I was terrified.
Enter Alfred Nims.
He and I frequented the same record store and shared a friend in common.
As I told my friend of my dilemma, he said: “You should ask Al to go with you.”
I had only met him a few times and didn’t know him well.
Our interactions were limited to the record store and music banter. (I miss record stores!)
Our mutual friend said “He’s a good guy, he’s older than you. And he will understand exactly how your feel.”
So, when Al came into the record store later that day, I asked him.
And he said yes.
I went to meet my Dad.
I saw him only two more times after that.
The next time was some five years later.
When I took my daughter to see him.
The daughter that I considered aborting.
Until Al told me that I didn’t have to be scared even though my mom had disowned me.
You know. Because I got kicked out the religion, she belonged to for having a child out of wedlock.
He said he would help me with anything I needed.
Al has been my older brother since I was 19.
He has been godfather to my daughter since before she was born.
And today, he celebrates 25 years of marriage with the older sister he brought into my life: Nadine.
These two people know me better than I know myself at times.
They have been there for every heartache, heartbreak, success, failure in all areas of my life.
When I have “disappeared” they would track me down and find me to make sure that I was okay.
They have repeatedly opened their home and hearts to my children and me, and I am forever grateful for their love.
Today, they don’t have to look too far for me. And that won’t ever change.
We are family.
I didn’t grow up with my Dad.
Perhaps if I did, I would have never met my big brother Al.
Happy Anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. Nims!
I love you to the moon and back!