Father’s Day is upon us ... sigh.
For the last 32 years, I have watched this annual Father’s Day holiday go by without the presence of my biological father. I remember only drawing cards for other people’s fathers as a gift to them, but not once have I ever known what it felt like to juggle between getting cologne or a silk tie for mine. He wasn’t there to receive a gift or a pat on the back for being a great caretaker.
Not only has he been absent, I found out over a year ago that he has been deceased since 1988.
In September 2009, as a birthday gift to myself and my mother, I decided to discover the truth as to who my biological father is. Due to my mother’s circumstances surrounding my birth, I had two possibilities and a reality to face as a result of one pending DNA test. One DNA test would let me know more about myself, more about why I’m the way I am and mostly what the next phase of my life would be like concerning this.
With the support of my friend, Russell Simmons, I launched the search publicly right here on GlobalGrind. I wasn’t trying to get a reality TV show deal. I needed the public encouragement because I knew it would be difficult.
One man, Joe McCray, was deceased and the other one, Earl Rideaux, was alive somewhere in Houston. I chose to find Earl and ask him to take the DNA test if he would agree. The Power of Allah (God) moved on my desire to know the truth and I was able to find him within days.
See, Earl was the one I was told all along was my biological father. Before I changed my name from ‘Jackson’ to ‘Muhammad’ in college, I used to bear his first name as one of my middle names. Honestly, I was happy to get rid of it because I figured why should I even carry his name when he had never carried me in his arms?
The little boy in me was still happy to see him in 2009 and talk to him on the phone. I didn’t feel resentment. I only sought atonement and redemption. Up until that moment I had only seen him twice my entire life. The first time was in elementary and then my senior year in high school at the end of one of my basketball games.
The days leading up to the DNA test, I prayed that it would be him. Then, regardless of his shortcomings in the past, I would have a chance to have a father-son relationship, buy him a card, shop for a silk tie, catch a movie, shoot some basketball, go out to dinner and even hear him say for the first time “I’m proud of you Jesse.” Plus he had other children who would become my sisters and brothers.
Above: My biological father Joe McCray and mother Mavis Jackson back in the day