“No matter what happens, you can always come home.”
— My Dad
The older I get, the more appreciative I am for my father’s ever present words of wisdom, comfort and yes, even correction. He was always thoughtful and measured in his response even under extremely serious circumstances or conditions. He knew when to lean in hard and when to pull back like a great artist making a masterpiece. He was always very, very intentional in the lessons he taught us, and strategic in the methods he used to teach them. Like every other child on earth, I can say with total candor that we did not always see eye to eye. In fact, at times we vehemently disagreed and on occasion could not find our way to a compromise. But the patience and persistence with which my Dad approached Fatherhood was Zen like in its balance and almost like a ninja warrior in its stealth. He always said being our father was both his most difficult job and greatest blessing. He (along with my Mother) raised six children in some very tumultuous times in our nation’s history. And yet, as children we never truly knew how much unrest surrounded us. We didn’t fully recognize how formidable the barriers were before us in a nation where Black people were fighting for basic civil rights and dignity, for full citizenship with all the rights and privileges therein.
My siblings and I were blessed to have a childhood that allowed my brother, sisters and me to just be children and fully enjoy our childhood in an atmosphere where we could imagine our wildest dreams, set goals for ourselves, be encouraged through our disappointments and cheered on in our greatest accomplishments. We knew we could achieve because Daddy told us we could. We could take risks and make mistakes that would teach us life’s lessons because if we fell short, there was Daddy, always supporting us. Daddy would always say “No sense in making mistakes if you don’t learn something from them.” He passed on to each one of us a legacy of fearlessness and the ability to rise to the occasion and deal with the obstacles as opportunities. He taught us about respect, integrity and perseverance, responsibility and resiliency – all the while, we never ever saw him panic. Although he told us later on in life that there were so many times all he had was faith and a prayer. We never knew he was struggling because he made the struggle so “cool.”
Every time I am in the presence of my Dad, even now as he has grown considerably older, less agile, and sleeps more often than he is awake, I am so grateful for the father that he was and still is to us, and the example he has provided to so many others who have watched him throughout the years. My father has always demonstrated his love for us over the years by what he DID, everyday, consistently for a lifetime. His words of wisdom, of comfort and correction will help guide me throughout the rest of my life. The most impactful words he ever spoke to me were, “No matter what happens, you can always come home.” This singular statement gave me the freedom to leap into my future without fear of failure. There are no guarantees for success in fatherhood just like in life there will be both success and failure. What is a certainty, however, is that the love and wisdom of a Great Dad need to be celebrated every day not just once a year. This week on Father’s Day don’t forget to recognize both the fathers and the men in your life who have given you words of wisdom, comfort and correction. There’s a blessing in just that! #HappyFathersDay