During the summer of 2020, we’re celebrating the fathers, grandfathers, and other parental figures in our community. We are proud to share their reflections on what it means to be a parent and how their lives have been enriched by the experience.
Son… you better get your s*** togetha! The white man will make you dis-ap-pear!” My father shouted, fuming at my teenage disobedience. Up until the ninth grade, my father, Mr. James R. Metters Sr. was a ghost—appearing and disappearing throughout the course of my adolescence. He was distant, absent, macho, a buddy-type dad, and unpredictable. All of those characteristics would ultimately shape my ideology of what it meant to be a father.
In 1989 when my son, James R. Metters, III burst into the world, I had no real idea of what had just happened. There I was, standing there in the maternity ward holding this little cute fellow in my hands. After the coos and innocent baby talk, I passed him back to his mother and scurried back into the world to continue living a life of my own. I put myself first rather than realize a significant part of my life had ended. His birth signified it was now time to live for him. But—I did a lot of what my father did.
After failing miserably to be a father and spending over two decades in prison, I’ve learned a lot. Things like generational trauma, childhood trauma, and character defects that many people suffer from. My father had his own issues and in the midst of that, he loved me and could raise me the only way he knew how. I, in turn, raised my son the only way I knew how. James III, if he has a son, will raise him the way he knows how. This is why I am thankful for my relationship with my dad and my son today. After serving 25 years to life in state prison, we have reconciled. We are free to build a healthy relationship and discover the joy of what it means to be a grandfather, father, and son.