(Editor’s Note: I originally wrote this post in 2009, but as my wedding date draws closer, this post is even more special to me…)
Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers out there!!! In my Mother’s Day post, I mentioned that my mother is the heart of my family, but I am unquestionably a daddy’s girl! I can think of all sorts of sweet childhood memories of my dad. First of all, my daddy is the ultimate Renaissance man. When my brother and I were young children, he would take us for long walks in the woods. We would feel the bark of the trees, gaze into the sky and listen to the sounds of what we hoped were far away animals. Sometimes, he would walk ahead of us and we would hear him pronouncing different words over and over again. Diction is very important to my scholarly daddy.
On Saturday mornings, back in the day, I swayed to the old school reggae music my father played as he washed his car. Later in the day, he would wash my huge afro before sending me to my mother for her to plait it. Sometimes, we would go to arts festivals at Piedmont Park. At night, my father read Disney books to us before we went to sleep. I credit my father for awakening my desire to be a writer. I remember when my mother was pregnant with my youngest brother David, she had to go into the hospital for several months. She got pregnant with him when she was 40 years old so it was considered a high risk pregnancy. At any rate, the summer before my brother was born in October, my daddy was responsible for making lunch for my brother Delvall and me. Thankfully, the women at the church made our dinners. (My father has been the pastor at Central Christian Church for nearly 30 years – since I was six years old.) Anyway, my father, who can’t cook, boiled hot dogs and toasted buns almost every day for our lunch during that summer. I couldn’t even look at a hot dog without feeling sick for years after that summer…
My father has never been afraid to show his faith in public which was the source of utter embarrassment to my brothers and me. Whenever we would go out to restaurants to eat, the three of us would start to cringe as he asked us to bow our heads to pray. And then my father’s deep voice made more obtrusive by his Jamaican accent made us want to hide under the table. I used to get into a lot of fights with the neighborhood kids when I was a little girl. I think they used to pick on me because I went to a private school instead of the elementary school in the neighborhood. I think it was named Kathleen Mitchell Elementary School…Anyway, I may have been small but I had a mighty mouth, and I “wrote checks with my mouth that my actions couldn’t cash.” When my father got wind of these fights, he would sit down with the two of us on the front porch and talk to us about being peacemakers. I used to wish that my father would be the like the other fathers in the neighborhood who encouraged my friends to fight those who picked on them. But now I know it takes much more control to be a peacemaker than it does to lash out verbally and physically…still working on that lesson daddy…
I remember when my first high school boyfriend and I broke up. My father, who has always worked from home, heard me wailing in my bathroom and asked me what was wrong. With my red face and swollen eyes, I tearfully explained how Imani and I broke up before homeroom that morning. My father looked in my eyes and said, “Well, this kind of thing happens in life, and it won’t be the last time.” Those words weren’t exactly comforting words, but I recognized he was trying to comfort me. In hindsight, he was probably a bit surprised that I was finally old enough to be wailing over a boy.
I was on the drill team in high school. Being on the drill team was one of the ways I got out of the house on weekend nights because I wasn’t allowed to go to parties and dances until I went to college. (I was allowed to go the prom though.) One year, I really wanted to go to my school’s homecoming dance in the gym. I asked my father to go, but I was not surprised when his answer was simply,”No.” So I got to scheming. When we had away games, we often didn’t get back to the school grounds until midnight or after. So I lied and told my parents that we had an away game (although it was homecoming) and that he shouldn’t pick me up until at least midnight. I figured that would give me some time to enjoy the dance plus I never invited my parents to come to the games because I knew they would not appreciate some of the provocative dances that the drill team performed.
So I thought I had the perfect plan in place as I sat on the bleachers in the gym talking to my one of my high school heartthrobs, Brian. I swooned over him as he talked and enjoyed watching people dance. The gym was so dark it was hard to make out everyone until without warning, a door to the gym opened and light flooded in. Looking like Al Bundy from the hilarious but now defunct sitcom,” Married… with Children,” there stood my father in the middle of the light. You are not going to believe this. All the way from the bleachers, I could see that my father was wearing pajamas covered by his trench coat. I felt like a deer cornered in the headlights. I could not move as my father looked around for a few minutes before getting to me.
Right in front of Brian, my father finally came up to me and said we had to leave. He escorted me out of the gym and to his car. To this day, I don’t know how my father figured out I was at the homecoming dance instead of the game. I don’t know what happened at school in the weeks afterward. I think I blocked it out of my memory I was so embarrassed.
I have a vault of memories I could share, but I won’t. Consider yourselves lucky if you have a father that is in your life because I have learned that many of us did not grow up with fathers including my own father. He often shares that he met his father once in his life after he was already a grown man. I feel sad when I think of my father not having a father like the father that he has been to me. My father, who is by no means perfect, has enabled me to feel secure and cherished and I love him dearly for that…
There are countless songs about mothers but not as many, it seems, about fathers, but I have included one of my favorites here. It is “Just the Two of Us” by Will Smith about his oldest son Trey. Also, the video features lots of fathers and their children…Happy Father’s Day to every father!!! Enjoy your day 🙂
Property of Jacqueline J. Holness, creator of AftertheAltarCall.com.