A Tribute to Black Fatherhood
In honor of Father’s Day, I would like to dedicate this time to share my personal experience with my father. All I have is memories of what I can remember to detail about who he was to me. I know that my dad valued family to the core and he made sure to keep me inclusive and apart of his side of the family. I spent a lot of time with cousins I didn’t really have on my mom’s side. Having a sense of togetherness and belonging was his mission. I couldn’t imagine not being able to never knowing who they are and so forth. He wanted and needed me to know where his heritage lies. Something as simple as eating together at the table for breakfast and dinner was a tradition I’ve been introduced to. For breakfast I had to drink a glass of water before I went for the orange juice. Another time I remember moment vividly is when I refused to eat green beans. As a child I thought they were the absolute worst food on the planet but had to sit at the table until I ate them but did I eat them though? I held out as long as I could until he dismissed me cause I wasn’t eating them. It felt like hours but it was probably a good thirty minutes. I know now that all he wanted was for me to eat my veggies but it felt like punishment. His way of doing things was structured. I believe that my dad planted seeds. He instilled them early on and though the lessons hadn’t been learned later on in life because I didn’t fully understand it then.
I was prideful in the fact that he drove trucks for a living. I was excited because I get to ride in these big trucks and pull the lever to blow the horn and even test drive it on my 8th birthday. He was a traveler and a photographer. Everywhere we went he needed to capture the moment with his polaroid camera; like standing near a ledge on a mountain in Colorado with no jacket on because we were only passing through. Again, I understand the importance of being present and creating those memories. A lot of the photographs that my dad had were lost so I don’t have access to it, it’s all in my head. As I grow older, I find myself doing the same thing as he did, taking photos of everything and having them printed out.
Quality time was huge because it is actually one of my love languages. We would color together, and watch movies like A Bug’s Life. I was gifted with a play doctor’s set and he was my patient. It may seem small but the impact of it carries on till this day. He was an intentional man. He told me, “when you wake up, just thank God for being here another day”. When I was twelve, I spent part of the summer in Oklahoma and he took me to go to Vacational Bible School. Every Wednesday. On the inside I was screaming not because of the purpose but because I didn’t know anyone and anyone would tell you that I was extremely shy so I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. During that time that’s when I learned later on about my dad’s health. He informed me that he was a diabetic and had to attend dialysis three times a week. It was mentally noted. It’s to a point now where I also check for these particular health concerns due to it being genetic every year. This also led me to creating a week of events for National Diabetes Awareness month (which is in November) on my college campus because I wanted everyone to become aware of it. It was his influence and our livelihoods.
It‘s been ten years since my dad has been gone but his spirit still lives on. The memories I have will never fade. I can go on about who he was to me. He’s the one that named me. He loved the Dallas Cowboys, his favorite color was navy, he liked country music but also Rihanna’s song, Take A Bow, family oriented. He was interested in real estate. He was a provider and set the foundation. He taught me how to cook (even though it was diabetic friendly) and took me to get my ears pierce. It hurts to know why he isn’t here and to use my voice. Three days before his passing, he came to visit me to take photos of me in the snow. In the back of my mind I knew he wasn‘t supposed to be here but he wanted to be. What’s important to note is that the little things count. Being actively present is what a child will always remember. Though every person is different and have their own experiences about this day. We, as a Black community need our Black fathers. In every aspect. I learned so much from my daddy and this goes to show a Black father’s impact.
Happy Father’s Day, may you rest peacefully.