I’m fortunate to have “homes” sprinkled all over the country, but Oklahoma City holds a special place in my heart. My God Dad lives on the outskirts of the city on a 5 acre homestead. Before he lived here, he had a great hand in raising me in Seattle. I’ve always testified that in the absence of my biological father I was blessed with three quasi-fathers. My maternal grandfather, my uncle (mom’s brother), and my God Dad, who is my grandfather’s first cousin and best friend. Those three men have loved me, guided me, and molded me in ways that only a man can.
Only a week after arriving in St Thomas, I touched down in Oklahoma City. No one I told of my travel plans understood why I would go from the tropical paradise of St. Thomas to the dry farmlands of Oklahoma. Outside of visiting my family and the Sooners, I know nothing about the culture or landscape of the state or city. So my review of my travels will be more of a tribute to my family than a review of the city.
My God Dad moved to Oklahoma in 2001, seeing the impending gentrification of Seattle, he opted to sell his property for double the purchase price and move back to the south. He worked extremely hard as a long haul trucker for nearly 30 years. Coming from a one room house in Montgomery, Texas, he was able to manage his money and pool his resources to purchase 5 acres of land where he planted and cultivate his own cotton only to pick it his self in a symbolic ritual of arrival.
This was the first time my daughter has any memory of meeting him and she has been excited for this trip for months at the promise of fishing and playing with the 2 German Shepherds that live on the property. We settled in quickly. I was flooded with nostalgic images of playing in the antique toys and items that litter their home. Every drawer is filled with treasures that my ‘Aunt’ & ‘Uncle’ affectionately call junk.
During my 5 day stay, I learned new thing about these two human beings that I had never noticed before. Their playfully affectionate relationship seemed to be missed on me as a child, or maybe they were just in an unhappy space. I talked openly with my God Mom about their marriage and my God Dad’s infidelities. She spoke with strength and humor about how they were able to move past something my generation often regards as the ultimate deal breaker. My affection and affinity for my God Dad has always eclipsed my God Mom, but only because I felt that she was stand-offish and cold as an adolescent. Whether this feeling was real or preconceived, I saw a very different side of her on this trip. A more open and transparent side. Which can only happen when you cross the threshold from childhood to adulthood.
There is one general emotion that encapsulated me while I was there . . . gratitude. When you spend years away from people who were once everyday pillars in your life, it makes you compare and contrast the past and the present. They are two adults who virtually adopted me, and provided guiding principles I still stand on today. They dedicated parts of their earnings for me to go to college and made me a substantial part of their legacy. They gave me security that my parents weren’t prepared to give.
Neither my God Mom nor God Dad are in the best health. The mortality of being human is frightening for me. The thought of inevitably losing them brings tears to my eyes. In a world where selfishness and apathy run rampant, losing those who have vowed to love you unconditionally makes everything else seem insignificant. While my 20 something self spends days and nights hopelessly analyzing thoughts of self-sufficiency, entrepreneurship, and financial security visiting my Godparents reminded me that all that I need and want has already been delivered to me. That a legacy has already been established and all I have to do is carry it forth.
Oklahoma City and its surrounding area may be considered lackluster to most of my peers, but I found a sense of peace in the quiet serenity of the country side. From the distinctive caw of the hawks flying overhead to the soft rustling of trees in the wind. Life outside of the city has brought my Godparents to a place of contentment. Things aren’t perfect. The aches and pains of old age leave them in discomfort but their environment is that of supreme comfort and security. A place most of us dream of, but rarely see illustrated.