artist - musician - craftsman
and furniture maker
[May 30, 2021]
simply revland: a child is born (1979-1980)
The holidays were upon us again in 1979. My furniture-making business was consistently busy, even though I was still tutoring myself, as it’s a lifelong learning process.
There were no cell phones or World Wide Web to amplify our life experience, so word-of-mouth advertising was the paragon of excellence.
That being said, it was public relations that the majority of small businesses were relying on for success, and I was trying my best to implement that.
Gun cabinet (1979)
Art deco writing desk (1980)
Tonight, however, was a pre-Christmas holiday Friday night, and I was planning my usual, customary appearance at my favorite watering hole, the Old Broadway bar and grille. Disco was still in its heyday ... and I was an enthusiast, yet more legitimately, an amateur aficionado. I had turned 26 earlier that year, and happened to be a healthy young man of leisure, enriched with advanced hormonal tendencies. Like many others my age, I was on the prowl.
I would consistently show up donning a crisply-ironed and starched white button-down shirt and denim blue jeans, invariably bottoming those off with my beloved penny loafers, which by now had soles like bowling shoes, which worked remarkably well on the parquet dance floor. I also had a nice collection of sport coats ― probably 10 of them ― which always garnished off my wardrobe, incessantly rotating them weekly. I had a precise method to my madness, which seemed to carry over from my daily studio chores, only that I was painfully shy ... and always hoped I would be asked to dance, as that would be the only way I could begin any conversation. There were many nights I would leave without saying a word, but thankfully, there were some ladies not as shy as yours truly.
The Old Broadway
Tonight was one of those nights. A great crowd, and the alcohol was flowing. I was asked to dance later in the evening, and we hit it off immediately. We spent the next week pretty much glued together, as I had shared with her my vast collection of adhesives in my work shop.
Within about a month, even though it seemed like just a few days, I was informed that I was about to be a father. Seriously. Due date: early September 1980. We barely knew each other, but I soon met her parents, who were strict Catholics. Something I was not. They also practiced teetotalism, a tradition that was never on my radar.
Truth be told ― and herein lies the rub ― I was a hopeless drug addict and an alcoholic. There. I said it. Within time, the mother of my child and her parents discovered who I really was, and refused to let me see her. I could not blame them. Or her. It was what it was, and they were only protecting their 21-year-old daughter.
A few months had passed and I had pretty much given up on any form of reconciliation, until she showed up at my furniture shop, baby bump and all, expressing her love for me. I was utterly beside myself with optimistic glee. If the lights had been turned off, she would have glowed in the dark. Stunningly beautiful, yet preciously vulnerable. She had clearly gone against her parents' wishes, acknowledging me as the father of her child. We were forcibly and undeniably immersed in a Romeo-and-Juliet moment and had hungered for more familial support, only to get none.
I had now been invited and encouraged to attend Lamaze classes with her, as well as go on dates together, as we literally knew nothing about each other, and I’m confident she hoped I could overcome any substance abuse issues that were quite prevalent, unfortunately. The one beautiful thing we had in common was situated inside of her and I reassured her, that whatever happened between us, I would see her through this pregnancy.
On September 3, 1980, mid-day, my phone would ring, informing me that Ryan’s mother was heading over to St. Ansgar's hospital, as her water had broken and that I should make my way to the hospital. [I found it unusual that the call would come from her mother.] Once there, I was whisked into a waiting room, finding myself as an unwanted third party, as her parents were now obviously in their controlling, dominant jurisdiction. Not remotely what we had bargained for, and had us feeling like teenagers.
The next day, September 4, 1980, Ryan Kelly Revland would come into a world filled with dubious distinction. A child without a father. A father prohibited from having any contact with his child or the mother that loved him. Within a month, they would all move to Wichita, Kansas. I was given a day's notice.
A few months passed and I was called soliciting a favor: “I’m getting married next week and my fiancé would like to adopt Ryan.” I spontaneously agreed, under all the circumstances that surrounded me, but under one condition that she verbally agreed upon. That Ryan can contact me when he is old enough.
Ryan Kelly Revland