By Frederick H. Lowe
Today, I called a friend to apologize for the something that happened decades ago.
He told me his wife was having an affair with another man and that she recently brought her lover a shaver. She openly confessed to seeing this person. His hurt feelings challenged the lie that black men don’t have any. We just move from one woman to another. That’s the accepted belief.
He trusted me with his feelings, but I only half listened as he described the pain of betrayal.
I was wrapped up in my own feelings about my life. I was thinking mostly about myself. He talked on the phone. I listened. After about 20 minutes he hung up.
That was decades ago. On Sunday, I called him to apologize for not listening and offering more comfort in his time of emotional anguish. At the time, we both lived in Philadelphia. I was a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News. He was a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. We became fast friends. I now live in Chicago. He now lives in New Jersey.
He was shocked at the reason I called.
“It happened a long time ago,” he told me. “I’m sure we remember things differently.”
Although our conversation occurred long ago. It was as though he had been telling me this now. And I was finally open to hearing on a deeper level what he had to say.
He switched subjects several times, but I brought the conversation back to why I called. “I’m not dying,” I told him. “It’s important that I apologize. I have been thinking about this for a while.”
My first wife apologized to me decades after our divorce. During the 70s, I was a student at the University of Washington in Seattle.
I worked two part-time jobs in addition to a fulltime one. I took our son to an affordable daycare center on the University of Washington campus. Women opened a low-cost daycare center to provide a very much needed service for married graduate and undergraduate students with children.
Meanwhile, my wife was seeing other men.
I was shocked by her apology because I hadn’t seen or spoken to her in decades.
Apologies come at different times.
I believe that it is important for black men to share their feelings of hurt and anger. The chosen listener should try to respond in kind.
After few minutes, he was ready to hang up. I said goodbye. Then he told me he loved me.