Kamilah Kashanie (KK): Like any relationship, the ones we have with our parents and our parental figures…can be complicated…
SP: So, do you remember the day that you came to me and said, ‘I don’t want to live here?’ [Laughs]
TCM: You know, the relationship that we had at that time was pretty distant. I was kind of holding on to it by my fingertips…
KK: It’s the StoryCorps Podcast from NPR. I’m your host Kamilah Kashanie.
This week we’re going to hear conversations between family members who are going through it, but also, they’re working through it…
KK: First, we’re gonna meet Jade Rone…who grew up in Philadelphia. Her biological mom couldn’t take care of her, so when Jade was 7, she entered the foster care system. She spent most of her childhood living with one family.
But when she was 17, her long-time foster mom died.
Her death was really hard for Jade… she was losing a mom all over again…
Jade Rone (JR): Nobody asked me how I was feeling. I just felt like I didn’t matter. So, when I was doing bad in school, I kept it to myself.
KK: In 2015, Jade was placed with a new foster mom, Stacia Parker.
They came to StoryCorps a few years after that to talk about the beginning of their relationship…
Stacia Parker (SP): When you came to my house…
SP: It was totally different.
JR: It was totally different.
SP: I knew that you were quiet, and I knew that because you were quiet and petite, that people had not paid attention to you.
SP: You would just say, ‘Mmhmm.’ See how you just said —
SP: You wouldn’t use your words. You had no requests, not even specific food. I said, ‘This is unusual for a teenager.’ So, do you remember the day that you came to me and said, ‘I don’t want to live here?’ [Laughs] You told me that the things I wanted from you were impossible.
JR: That sounds like something I would say. [Laughs]
SP: You said that it was no way you were going to learn to make a bed —
JR: Clean —
SP: Be on time. And I wanted you to continue your violin practice. As an African-American female, society was already going to marginalize you.
SP: So, I was trying to develop your voice.
JR: You asked me questions about what was going on. You asked me, ‘Ok, so you’re failing this class. So, what we need to do?’ I’m like, ‘What you mean, what we need to do?’ ‘Cause nobody put ‘we’. It was always, ‘You need to fix this.’
I actually remember you taking me back to Girls High. And I cried in the back of your car and I’m like “please don’t make me go back. Anywhere else” [laughs] and you was like “you about to do this”. And they let me back. I think I just needed guidance all around. I didn’t know anything.
SP: In terms of what?
JR: Employment. Doctors appointments. I didn’t know anything. And then I became a parent young. I didn’t know what that was gonna be like.
KK: Jade was 17 when she got pregnant with her daughter, Kalani…
It was just a few months after she had moved in with Stacia… and learning how to be a mom, while she was still struggling with having a mom… it caused some tension between the two of them.
SP: Talk about when Kalani was born.
JR: I was terrified. I was just very, very naive. And it kind of didn’t really hit me until it was almost really time for me to have her.
SP: Do you think you bonded with her her first six months of life?
JR: No. I was still in my teenage phase of me like ‘I could still do what I want to do.’ I don’t think I took the initiative to really be a mom. And when you were telling me this is what you need to do.
SP: …you resented me for it.
JR: I hated you for it.
SP: You did. You hated that I developed a relationship with her. One day I went, I’ll go give her a bath. And I know you didn’t want me to touch her.
JR: … and about that, it wasn’t that I didn’t want you to touch her. It is that when I came here, you were teaching me so many things and I felt like “I need to show her I can do this without her help”. At the time I thought you were doing it because you thought I couldn’t do it.
SP: Absolutely not
JR: But I didn’t know that.
SP: But I could have explained or shared more about my thinking. These are the types of things you learn along the way about parenthood, bonding, about falling down and getting back up.
JR: Mmhmm. What’s something, um, that you think I’ve taught you?
SP: I really used to think that kids came knowing how to communicate.
SP: So when I entered the foster care system that was an area where I needed growth. I had to teach my children how to communicate. And you’ve taught me the power of love. You really helped me see that not only do I know what your needs are, but that I know how to meet them.
JR: I’m glad. I want to thank you for everything. Because if you would not have pushed me, I don’t think I would be anywhere near where I am right now. I’ve been searching for a mom all my life. Then I got you and we’ve been…it’s been bumpy. [Laughs]
SP: But, I’ll be here.
JR: I know you will.
KK: That’s Jade Rone speaking with her mom Stacia Parker in Philly….
Jade’s daughter Kalani is now 4 years old… and we found out that Jade was actually pregnant during this recording with her second daughter, Nova Reign. She’s 2.
They all still live together, and Stacia’s enjoying being a grandmother to both girls.
After the break… how a road trip helped ease the distance between a dad and his kid.
Stay with us.
KK: Welcome back…
Chas McClure always wanted to be a dad…
…so when Chick McClure was born, it was one of the happiest moments of his life… Here’s Chas telling Chick about that day…
Charles McClure (CSM): I remember you were born so tiny and the nurses were nice to me. And they used to let me come over and gown up and everything and hold you. So I used to go in there at noon and sit in the rocking chair and feed you. Those are really fond memories.
KK: The older Chick got, the closer they became with their dad
They spent time fishing, and playing baseball in the backyard. And one of Chick’s favorite things to do was go sledding…
T Chick McClure (TKM): You remember that time I went sailing over the fence? I was like Evel Knievel flying through the sky
CSM: Right yeah. Because we hit the bottom and it had launched you right up into the air.
TKM: Yeah, I remember that you came down after me to make sure I was okay and you went over the fence too. You know, I think about, like, growing up and stuff and I feel like you and I were so connected and I loved to spend my time with you.
CSM: Yeah. Yeah.
TKM: And when you and mom divorced, I was just so sad when you left.
KK: Chick was 14 years old at the time… and stayed with their mom. Chas moved away for his job in the Navy…
Chick and their dad really didn’t talk much after that and their relationship was distant for the next 30 years…
So when they had their StoryCorps conversation, it was one of the first times that they were both open about what it felt like after Chas left…
TKM: I think that I had been carrying a lot of uh anger because, you know, I saw my mom really kind of fall apart. And I think I blamed you. But because you weren’t there, you weren’t there to talk about it with me so that I could understand why you were splitting up.
CSM: Yeah. I was sad about that, too, but I was sad primarily for you or because of you.
TKM: Yeah, and I want you to know that I know that. I know that now.
CSM: …and I know that you know that now. You remember the letter that you wrote? It was laying out when I went to pick all my stuff up and leave for the last time.
TKM: Oh, I don’t remember. What did I say in it?
CSM: Well, you just told me that you hated to see this happen and you know, that you loved me and how sad you are and how you wish that you had something that you could do to make it better.
CSM: I still got that letter. It’s one of the — one of the few things I’ve kept my whole life.
TKM: I don’t remember writing that letter, but I am so touched that you have it.
KK: They started to reconnect when Chick was an adult… and decided to take a two-week long road trip around the Southwest…
They hadn’t really hung out like that since Chick was a teenager… so this trip was a pretty big deal for both of them…
TKM: We had flown into this airport, hours apart. I got there first.
TKM: And when you called I was like “oh, okay he’s here.” And I walked to the door of the hotel room and there was a mirror there. So I got a last look at how different I knew I was going to look to you. There was a lot of time between when I was 14 and we reconnected on that trip.
TKM: 30 years?
CSM: Why do you think it took so long?
TKM: You know, I know that you are politically conservative.
TKM: And I was worried that you might not accept me, being transgender. I was always kind of, like, shapeshifting to try to figure out what version of me would be more acceptable, not just to you, but to everybody. Really at that time, I didn’t know if we would have a relationship after I told you…
CSM: You felt like that would be a bridge too far, really?
TKM: I was really worried about that. You know, the relationship that we had at that time was pretty distant. I was kind of holding on to it by my fingertips. But the craziest thing happened. I felt when I got off the elevator and we saw each other, we didn’t even have to say anything. We connected with our eyes.
CSM: It was just kind of a momentary shock, and then, when I heard your voice and you smiled and then we, you know, hugged. Everything just went away.
CSM: I had a ball on that trip and a lot of it was just driving around looking out the window at the beautiful terrain shooting the breeze, which I really enjoy doing.
TKM: And it seemed like we were always on a quest to find the best chicken fried steak. Which – [laughs]
CSM: Yeah, and I don’t think we ever really found the best one either.
TKM: And I’ve — I’ve done a lot of thinking about that trip. And part of the reason that it was so great was just that I had been able to be honest with you about who I am, ya know?
TKM: And it was so great to have your acceptance. But also I felt like, you know, I’m accepting you. Cause I feel like I’ve been kind of rigid with you.
CSM: As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that life is full of mysteries, and you know me to be a very religious person. There’s many things that we either don’t understand or can’t understand. And you can’t abandon your family. I mean, that’s the only link that you have to eternity.
CSM: Do you remember when, uh, we said our goodbyes in, uh, the airport?
TKM: I just got emotional. I was so emotional. ‘Cause I —
TKM: Because I do have regret. What I have regret about is lost time. You know?
TKM: I have regret about lost time. And when you got on your plane, that really occurred to me very strongly. None of us know, like what kind of time we’ve got. But I just want to make what time we have be really connected and talk about real things and —
CSM: Me too. I’ll double down on that. That’s for sure. I just want my kid to be happy. And I never, ever felt like you were. You just always seemed very sad. And once I was able to see how happy you were, that’s really all I ever wanted anyway.
TCM: I don’t know if I’ve told you this, Dad, but I was doing this workshop and, um, somebody in the workshop had said that ”this is not your practice life”. That struck me so hard. It like, woke me up. I didn’t want my life to go by not being connected to you. I feel like we’re reconnected.
Charles McClure: Yeah, I think so too. I mean, we talk pretty much every week.
T Chick McClure: I’m so glad that we have each other in our lives in this way now. I love you dad.
CSM: I love you too.
KK: That’s Chas and Chick McClure…for StoryCorps in 2020…
When we checked back in with them for this episode, they’d just returned from ANOTHER road trip. This time to Colorado for Chas’ high school reunion. Chick got to see Chas’ hometown…and learn a little about what their dad’s life was like…before they were in it…
That’s all for this episode of the StoryCorps podcast.
It was produced by me, Kamilah Kashanie. Our story editor is Sylvie Lubow. Our executive editor is Jasmyn Morris. Jarrett Floyd is our technical director. Natsumi Ajisaka is our fact-checker. Special thanks to Jey Born, Kerrie Hillman, Mia Warren and Ava Ahmadbeigi.
To record your own interview with a loved one – visit StoryCorps – dot – org. While you’re there you can also check out what music we used in the episode, and see original artwork created by artist Rosalyn Yoon.
For the StoryCorps podcast, I’m Kamilah Kashanie. Catch you next week.