traceyricksfoster_web.jpgMy vacation in Detroit ended way too soon. There were friends that I didn’t get to see after several attempts. Family and siblings that for some reason couldn’t seem to find or make the time. But that is OK. I am not bothered by that. The ones that I did get to enjoy, well, it was well worth it! My family and I visited mainly friends and acquaintances that had a profound presence in our lives. Just looking upon their faces, with tears running rampantly, the love and happiness just to see that they are hanging on despite unemployment, poverty, children problems, ill health, inadequate health care, crime, lack of transportation, foreclosure, bankruptcy, death, old age and severe depression.

The courage and the fortitude that carried them, uplifted and inspired us. We thank them for it.

I didn’t get a chance to visit with my paternal side of the family. I have been estranged from my father’s side of the family for a few years now. My father, Sheldon Ricks Sr., was a no show in my life. A non presence. He claims it was because my mother told him that my stepfather had adopted me. My mother says that that conversation never happened.

Whatever the situation, I have struggled for years with the mental anguish that comes from being abandoned. Or to be fair, growing up without knowing who I am.

When I finally had the gumption to locate my father, at the age of 25, I was beyond excited to meet that whole other world, the side of me that screamed to be let out. My father, warm but distant, was cool. My stepmother, at first, was nice. But later on I got the impression that she didn’t particularly care for me. Upon meeting my father, I was introduced to aunts, uncles, cousins and my grandfather, Virge Ricks.

A great group of people, devout in the C.O.G.I.C tradition, they all embraced me lovingly. But internal family rivalry and jealousy made me uncomfortable. Not that every family doesn’t experience its share of issues, it just seemed like my new family took it to the extreme a bit. I mean, when aunts and nieces file full-fledged lawsuits against each other, well let’s just say that I began to understand the side of me, that when pressed, goes for the jugular. Not particularly a good thing. My husband will attest to that fact.

Getting back to the point, when my father died in 2000 of pancreatic cancer, I attempted to maintain the somewhat strained ties I shared with the Ricks. But I got the feeling that everyone thought I was being pushy; attempting to insinuate myself into a family that I biologically belonged. So, I decided to take three steps back. Maybe 30.

When they are ready to establish a relationship with me, they have my numbers. My sister, Yulonda and I, however, are close. My father’s other two children, well there is no relationship. I don’t like it, but what else can I do about it?

I did ride past my father’s street, Annchester. I thought about him and how he told me that he loved me and begged for my forgiveness. He told me that I was his child, a Ricks, despite what anyone may say or think.

That is why I carry his name. It is a final tribute to a man that I hardly knew, but to whom my existence I owe. I miss my father more now than when he was alive. I suppose it is because when he was alive and absent from my life, I knew he could become a physical presence. There was hope.

Now that he is deceased, there is an emptiness. A pain that I cannot describe. A yearning that has become overwhelming in intensity.

I enjoyed my vacation in Detroit. I had a really great time. I have to say a warm “Thank You” to Darren, our host and relative, who shared with us the comforts of his home in Southfield for an entire week. He was loving, understanding and kind when it came to our children and the guests who knocked on his door. I thank my husband’s grandmother for that RUM CAKE!!!

Of course, I can’t leave out Detroit! Detroit welcomed me with open arms. The radio stations pumping Anita, Sade, Patti, The Dramatics, Parliament, Teena Marie and Luther non-stop! How I missed that!

Shout outs go to The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press for following the mayor’s text-message scandal and the increasingly suspect activities of Monica Conyers. WOW! Great story!

And as we drove by the historic Henry Ford automotive plant, the spot where the very first Model T was manufactured and rolled off the assembly plant; I realized what a rich experience I had being raised in Detroit.

Detroit taught me a lot of things. Detroit taught me how to be proud and work hard. Detroit taught me how to fight and stand up for what I believe. Detroit taught me how to struggle and survive.

If you can make it in the “D,” baby, you can make it ANYWHERE!