Two years ago, my friend who I will call Red here to protect his privacy, found out he had a 25-year-old son. Needless to say, he was floored.
Red moved to Nashville years ago from the north. He was a musician and came here as aspiring songwriters do. He did the rounds playing gigs around town and working different odd jobs which supported him while he sought a career in music. He and his girlfriend, as I understand it, didn’t do the long distance thing for long although they would visit each other from time to time.
Finally they lost touch with each other and Red got married to a wonderful woman. His journey continued. He still plays music but concentrates more on their life together. He loves his wife, the Nashville Predators and has strong friendships in the community. When I moved to Nashville a couple of years ago, he embraced me with an almost immediate friendship and I didn’t feel so alone in those first few months where I was very much on my own. He’s a good man.
When he told us about his son a couple of years ago, he was reeling. Over the first several months when they started getting to know each other it was yet another long distance relationship but the weight of knowing which steps to take and which ones to avoid was a heavy load to carry. He knew he couldn’t be Insta-dad because his son was raised by another man so he decided to be his friend. It was really the only thing he could do in this particular circumstance. And it was hard because I saw events unfold. We were there with him the entire time. The first contact, the first letter, the first time he heard his son’s music (Red Jr. is a musician as well) and we waited for his return after the first time he met his son, knowing that these series of firsts were difficult. That’s what you do for your friends.
He’s been through quite a few of firsts by now, but it changed him. Red is a man of modest means so jumping on a plane isn’t always an option for him. He now has a son that he’s getting to know and they get along swimmingly. It’s their normal which isn’t anyone else’s normal which is something to remember.
When the news broke about Steve Cohen having a daughter, he and I talked about his experience. Red has a unique perspective on this situation because he’s lived through it.
Cohen’s news broke under the media’s obsession of looking for a scandal. The GOP was there with shark teeth gleaming ready to take a juicy bite. There wasn’t a scandal, however, for Cohen anymore than there was for Red. These are two men who had a child they weren’t aware of. They both tried desperately to protect the feelings of the other men who raised their daughter and son. They both are getting to know their children who they found out they had when this son and daughter were already adults.
Although Cohen’s story played out in front of the cameras last week, Red went through his privately with his wife, his son and a few friends. If what I observed with Red is any indication, this was not easy because everything he knew was changed by one day in his life of finding out about Red Jr. I asked Red if I could write about him and he said that he thought I should. He said that he was glad his story wasn’t plastered all over the place like Cohen’s was.
“It’s a private thing, you know.” He said over a beer last weekend.
Red is right. It is.