2013-11-22 / Sports

Rockaway Walks Fitness Column

The Greatest Blessing
By Steven C. McCartney IPO, HSW MS

It has been a blessing writing for The Wave newspaper and guiding you with important science-based evidence and information on staying mentally, physically and socially fit. Occasionally, I have reflected on past experiences to help you understand my philosophy towards being healthy. Even so, nothing can prepare you for what you are about to read. This article is about a special relationship between two individuals who have a child together, and are able to reunite after some time apart. In writing this article, my goal is to inspire individuals young and old to build strong relationships.

I met Tracey, the mother of Andre, 33 years ago on a college campus on Long Island, New York. Our families only accepted our relationship as far as we could see, which really wasn’t all that far, since we were only about 18 at that time. We were lovers who were intimate, young and foolish, and this combination is a recipe for failure.

Within three years after beginning our relationship, Tracey became pregnant with our son, Andre. Personally I was not ready for fatherhood. I had not had the opportunity to live on my own, and I had just recently started to work for a utility company on Long Island. I was also not ready to meet the needs of the relationship between Tracey and me. Tracey was very hurt by the things that were going on and soon after Andre was born she left to join the military.

By the time Andre was two years of age, Tracey had other relationships and other children. To her credit, she raised the children as a single parent while in the armed services and has since retired from the federal government.

Over the years, my life has continued to take a number of twists and turns. I was emotionally hurt, and never recovered from the lack of resources to form a support team (review The Wave Article FORM A SUPPORT TEAM). I always wanted to know about Andre, my only son, but lacked information on Tracey’s whereabouts until very recently.

Tracey started a Facebook account in 2013, and she requested me as a friend. This was my golden opportunity to be reunited with her, but I was also feeling many emotions. Some of these emotions were good, while others were not so positive. In the beginning, the conversation between the two of us was cordial, but it later became awkward, as tough questions began to be asked and emotions and concerns were also expressed.

A little while later, Tracey provided me with a contact number. In August 2013, we spoke for the first time in about 27 years. It was then that we first started to listen to each other and articulate our feelings and emotions. Tracey sent me a surprise e-mail with a series of photos that Andre had given her. Tracey talked so proudly of Andre’s professional work as dance instructor and choreographer in ballroom, Latin, and Hip-hop dancing.

I was blown away, and if you have been following my work with Rockaway Walks, you know I am a veteran, writer for The Wave newspaper and a NYS Certified Physical Education Teacher, Swim Coach, and Founder of Healthy Lifestyle Changes, Inc. (501 c 3).

The growth of our relationship led Tracey and me to schedule a routine that required talking daily. The result of our conversations and the photos motivated us to start a project, a children’s book called The Dancer: Physical Literacy using Andre’s dance photos. Tracey finally notified her family that I was the father of Andre prior to me traveling to the West Coast to be by her side. After that, I spoke to Andre for the first time over the phone. Tracey and I signed the book “From father and mother, love always”, and mailed it overnight to Andre. Upon my return to the East Coast, Andre reached out to me in excitement. In October, 2013, Andre and I reunited (see photo) for the first time in 30 years. I am overjoyed.

Today, Tracey, Andre and I continue to communicate daily, and are working to build our lives together. I believe there are many individuals with families that have similar stories and I am so happy to be able to share with you one of my greatest blessings and happiest moments of my life. Tracey and Andre, I Love You.

This article goes out to the community of Rockaway Walks and Sponsors: Councilman Donovan Richards, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, Joseph Addabbo Health Center, Modell’s Sporting Goods, Stop N Shop, NYC Parks & Recreation, York College, Healthy Lifestyle Changes Inc., VESID and The Wave newspaper. For Questions or comments contact Steven_ mccartney @walkprograms.com

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