Aug 15

Two sides

by Josh Olsen

“Sometimes,” my grandfather hesitantly confessed from his bed, “I wonder if we made the right choice keeping you away from your father.”

But my grandmother quickly interjected, “Of course we made the right choice!” and that was the end of the conversation.

I wasn’t exactly shocked by what my grandfather had stated. For years, in fact, I had silently questioned the completeness of the story surrounding my father’s absence, but never, outside of my own mind, had I ever been led to believe that there was possibly more to it than I had previously been made privy to.

I mean, I wasn’t raised to be a sucker, and I knew there were always two sides to every story, and in most cases many more than that, but the one unquestionable fact in my life had always been that my biological father was an irresponsible, negligent bastard.

That one truth had shaped my life.

It defined me.

But I began to reflect on my friend Tharren’s experience with his son…having him taken away, the mother and her family using excessive and expensive legal means to force Tharren out of his boy’s life.

Who knew what lies they told?

But, then again, I only knew Tharren’s side of the story.

I thought about the stories KT’s father told about his dad.

According to him, his old man was evil incarnate.

Yet, his brother, KT’s uncle, seemed to deny, forget, or repress each and every negative memory.

“Are you sure they were raised by the same man?” I jokingly asked KT on repeat occasions.

And, of course, there was my step-dad, Steve.

Here was a man who, when I was the age of four, married my mother and attempted to raise me as his own.

And how did I repay him?

16 years of horror stories and cliché confessional poetry.

After I ran away, of course.

I knew all too well that there were always at least two sides to every story, so why was it that I was so fucking naïve as to assume that this lone example, dealing with my father’s presence, or the lack there of, was the one exception?

“Sometimes I wonder if we made the right choice keeping you away from your father,” my grandfather had said, a genuine look of regret on his face.

I probably should have attempted to dig deeper into that statement, but, instead, I found myself more concerned with the various stories my own two children will eventually begin to tell, and how many different sides there will be.