A Tale of Two Boyfriends

4 min readMar 20, 2024

You probably expected this to be a story about my love life. It is not. It is however, a much more interesting story about my mother’s.

When you grow up without a father, it means your mother raises you without a parenting partner and sometimes, a romantic partner. So, she dates. Because like you and like me and like most everyone else, she wants love. She wants companionship and support along this bizarre journey we call “life.”

My mother dated men — and I understood early why they were drawn to her. She is an attractive, stylish woman who in her day rocked blown out hair with curled ends that bounced on her shoulders. Sometimes she’d wrap a chic headband around the crown like Farrah Fawcett. She wore all the 80s fashion trends: crop-tops, pedal pushers, and high-waisted, stonewashed jeans. Almost eclipsed by it all, at last you’d notice the application of her signature dark purple lipstick, a flawless outline around her mouth. She was, she is, packaged grace and glamour. Potential suitors came to her with ease.

It was the best of boyfriends, it was the worst of boyfriends.

Let’s call the best one, Terry. I adored this boyfriend. Terry emulated the wholesome dads he admired in the family sitcoms we sat on the sofa and watched together. Carl Winslow from Family Matters, Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Dr. Huxtable. It felt like I was in one of those families when Terry was around. Like we were in a show where parents and children spent quality hours together and no transgression was left unlectured. If we watched a movie, Terry would have discussion questions ready after. When we played Monopoly, he’d explain our bad financial decisions and how we could’ve better strategized.

It wasn’t all talking and TV watching. When we moved to a rough neighborhood and our home was burglarized every couple of months, Terry protected us. One of those times, burglars broke the deadbolt lock on our door and damaged the hinges to the point where it couldn’t be secured. Terry slept on the floor in front of the door until morning, when he would go to the hardware store and purchase items necessary for repair. Soft-spoken, mild mannered — he handled me, my mother and brother with incessant gentleness.




Pushcart Prize nominated essayist and memoirist. Author. Music connoisseur. Multi-passionate creative. I’ve lost a lot of sleep to dreams….