Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Father's Day, Daddy

The Black man is the most reviled, disrespected, dehumanized person on the planet. But, not today, and not in this column.

Since today is Father's Day, I would like to dedicate this post to my Daddy.

Yes, I am a Daddy's Girl.

Proud of it.

There are very few things more powerful than a Black man who has his stuff together and is taking care of business. There is a sense of security and serenity in a home in which a together Black man resides.

I was fortunate to live in one of those homes.

My father wasn't famous. He didn't go to work in a suit everyday. He never made close to six figures.

But, he was one of the best human beings I've ever known. And, I didn't know how special he was until I got older.

My father was born in a time when his options were severely limited. If he had been a Baby Boomer, I have no doubt that he would have been a partner in a major accounting firm. But, he was born when he was, which meant that society determined his 'options'. Yet, my father did what so many others did, he went out, found a way to feed his family- legally - and didn't let others define him for what happened outside of his job.

My father wasn't an educated man - degree wise, yet there was rarely a time when I didn't see him with something in his hands to read. We had all sorts of books and magazines in our home that I didn't see unless I was in a library. He was always educating himself, and passed that down to me and my sisters.

My father wasn't a 'feminist', yet he understood that a marriage was a partnership, and so was a home. So, he did what he could to eliminate some of the burden from my mother. My father was the cook in our home. If 100 meals were cooked in our house, Daddy cooked 98 of them, and did the shopping. Now, don't ask him to wash, iron or run the vacuum cleaner. But, he took the burden of family meal time off of my mother's plate.

My father wasn't a fan of organized religion. I can count on two hands the number of times that I saw him inside of a church that didn't include a wedding or funeral. Yet, there are few people who lived their lives more according to the ' Good Book' than him.

What did my father teach me?

1. He taught me about respecting myself. What I should accept and expect for myself as a woman. He did directly, making it clear that no man had a right to put his hands on me, and indirectly, by me being able to observe him respect my mother and not call her out her name at any time in my presence during their entire marriage.

2. He taught me about the passion for education and lifelong learning. That you can always learn something new, and to be aware of the world is a personal responsbility. Don't let others think for you; think for yourself.

3. He taught me how to cook..

4. He taught me to appreciate the beauty in sports. He had three daughters, but I was the only one who shared his love of sports. Long before there was a Tiger Woods, or Venus and Serena Williams, Daddy would have me watching golf and tennis in person. We would truly be specks of pepper in a sea of salt at those events, but he wanted me to appreciate different things. He loved me so much that he actually took me to ice skating events - yes, a Black man sitting at an ice skating show.

5. He taught me to love travel. Every summer we would take out the atlas and it was my job to map out where we would go on our car travels. I got to see a lot of this country that way, and he encouraged me to see the world. Daddy fought in France during WWII. He used to tell me stories of his time in the Army and how he much he enjoyed France. I told him that I wanted him to take me where he went while stationed in Europe. He worked a second job so that he, Mama and I could celebrate my 16th Birthday in Europe, traveling to the places that he did when he was a soldier. Daddy didn't live to see me graduate from college, which makes this trip one of my most precious memories.

Today, I want to thank Daddy for everything he gave me. He's gone from us now, physically, but his lessons, I find a new use for them nearly everyday.

To all the Black men out there who are taking care of business; who love their children, and guide them in the right direction - thank you.

Happy Father's Day.

Suggested Reading:

Pops: A Celebration of Black Fatherhood

The Ditchdigger's Daughters

The Pursuit of Happyness

Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood

Black Fatherhood: Reconnecting With Our Legacy

Whatever Happened to Daddy's Little Girl?: The Impact of Fatherlessness on Black Women


The Angry Independent said...

Thanks for sharing your memories of your father.

From what I read there, he seemed like a great Dad...and a great man.

My father was also a military man and a War Veteran. The Army took him from the mean streets of St. Louis... and he made a life out of it.. He too was not college educated... he didn't have that "option" early on, growing up in the 50's and 60's. But you wouldn't know that from talking to him... he was well traveled.. and cultured.

I learned about being a man just from watching a real man at work... That was the best education I ever received. The impact of having a solid father is incalculable. I read an article that came out yesterday about how the lack of fathers has had a devastating impact on the "Black community".

He had a giant personality too... when he entered a room... it was like the President had arrived. Especially when we would come home to St. Louis. But he was always a grassroots man. His giant persona was a trait that I was unable to get from him unfortunately... because I turned out to be more of a laid back man... Which has its benefits and drawbacks, but I won't complain.

He also taught me the importance of service with his work as a Black Mason and Shriner...

I was lucky to be with him for the last half of my childhood. If that had not happened... I am certain, I would have ended up dead or in prison... that's the conveyor belt that I was on when he took me from my mothers apt. in St. Louis. He was able to convince her that I'd be better off with him (and everyone knew he was right). She did what she could, but drugs and alcohol...(and men) pretty much came before me and unfortunately took over her life.

That was the second time he came to get me...(the man seemed determined...even though he didn't have courts on his side and had to travel all the time for his career).

The first time... he gathered up a posse and knocked the door down, lol. (Think Shaft or Bumpy Johnson). I'll never forget it. That was a badd dude. I was about 6 years old. He returned me after a few days...he was on leave and wanted to see me. My mother had been refusing to let him see me. I found out several years later that he was arrested for that...and had his career slowed down because of it (he knew he was putting everything on the line).

That says it all.

I remember the BBQ's & Parties he would throw overseas.... he could cook his ass off too. He was the better cook in the household.
His guests used to call him "Top" (for 1st Sergeant). I hated the parties sometimes... because I had to clean up, lol.

He died when I was 18. I now want to be a good example for my siblings...and keep his spirit alive.

You brought memories back Rikyrah!

Nice post...

dblhelix said...

and it sounds like he enjoyed every minute of time he spent with you, too.

African American Political Pundit said...

I loved reading your words of rememberance of your Dad. It was hard getting through the post. It was very emotional for me. It reminded me of my step father who is gone now. I agree with AI, you brought memories back Rikyrah. Based on what you wrote, your DAD was truly a powerful man in so many ways.

Thank you for sharing.

rikyrah said...

Angry Independent,

Thank you for your remembrance of your father. So many of us, who had the example of the strong, good Black man have a responsibility to speak out for those men, and never forget what they taught us.

Angie said...

Rikyrah, as usual, I loved your post. I was glad to read your beautiful story about your dad. It's always refreshing to hear stories of good black men. So often, many of us don't have positive experiences with our dads.

AI, I also loved reading about you and your dad. It was a very touching story.

Check out my blog. I also wrote about my darling daddy.

Not trying to promote myself or my blog... Just trying to spread the news that there really are good black men out there.

Have a good day!