Things My Father Taught Me
Home is a place you grow up trying to get away from and grow old trying to get back to — This quote often makes me think of things my father said as we grew up. He consistently embodied words like integrity, symptoms nurse determination and discipline, nurse making them life lessons personified instead of merely cliché platitudes. As children, cure we often do not appreciate what our parents are trying to teach us through the so-called house rules that illuminate the requirements we are expected to fulfill as a member of the family. When we enter into adulthood, have children and grandchildren of our own, the depth of the words and lessons we were taught begin to reveal themselves to us with each year that passes and every experience we live. The words of our parents become the wisdom on which we begin to depend. My father always said, “A fool will expose himself and all you need to do is wait. And it won’t take long.” Oh, how often my father’s words have proven to be true. “Just be patient and that ‘fool’ will trip himself up without any help from you.” Daddy was right on every occasion!
The things my father taught me are so imbedded in the foundation on which I stand, it would take an entire library to recount them all. Like many other fathers of his generation, he taught his children with an abundance of love, wit and style, while at the same time an intense urgency that underscored the need to impart a level of preparation that would guarantee our success in a world that was more hostile than friendly. He always said, “You’re black and a girl, you’re gonna have to be twice as good to be even and three times more just to get ahead.” Anyone raised Black in America heard those exact words or some semblance of them from their parents.
I remember one time upon learning that I was not applying myself adequately to a class I was taking because, as I put it, “The teacher just didn’t like me.” My father said, “What kind of stupid excuse is that?” Then he laughed out loud. “She doesn’t have to LIKE you. She’s got her degree, what have you got?” I shrugged my shoulders, having no adequate response other than, “Nothing.” He always preached, and I mean like an evangelical preacher on a Sunday morning, that knowledge was power and that without an education we would never fulfill our God-given potential.
We always celebrated success in our house, but never with gifts or financial enticements. No. I never got paid for bringing home an A on my report card. A simple good job, a smile and a pat on the back was our reward, and it was enough to keep us working hard. My father set an example of success we all wanted to emulate, and in the end we did. He (with mom) raised six children, and all of us have a college education. There are 2 medical doctors, 2 with doctoral degrees, and 2 holding executive leadership roles with major corporations.
My father has always been a very successful man. He believes to the core of his being that he has the BEST children in the world, and don’t even talk to him about his grand and great grandchildren. If we are the “BEST”, it can only be attributed to the way that we were RAISED and of course—to the things my father taught us.
Happy Father’s Day Daddy, and to ALL the Fathers who have dedicated themselves to teaching their children how to fulfill their God-given potential, Happy Father’s Day to you, too.
Up Next Week: Can you CHOOSE to be Black?