My father wasn't around growing up. He was as mysterious as the Bermuda Triangle. My mother never said anything bad about him, but nothing good either. We weren't even allowed to mention his name. My oldest brother told me he was Bruce Lee. I knew Bruce Lee was dead, so that was painful. He had a Chinese statue and said that our dad's spirit was in it. I was a kid who didn't believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny (wtf IS that??) but I believed that my dad was trapped in a wood carved souvenir.
I met my father when I was 17. He had been locked up most of my life. I had heard murmurs from my aunt, but that was the first confirmation. I didn't know how to react. He had hands small like mine and my brother. He was brown and had a very dry sense of humor. He was cool. The epitome of cool. I stayed with him the Summer of 2006 when I went up top for Harlem Book Fair. He told me stories about my mother as a kid (they were childhood sweethearts) that made me understand her much better, and stories about him that made me understand myself. He was the first person who told me I needed to stop burning...and it had made sense. Took it a few years to sink in though (Smile)
Even though he had missed my entire childhood, the way he spoke was like he knew everything I had endured, everything that shaped me, and everything that could make me a better me. He was proud of my accomplishments and encouraging of my dreams.
Since Pops wasn't around, my mom had remarried and gave us a new father figure. I had a step-dad who beat me every morning for not eating breakfast and every night at dinner. I got beaten for forging my mom's signature on my report card and failing my multiplication tables tests. I got beaten for not turning off the kettle fast enough when it whistled. I got beaten for throwing away a "Number 1 Dad" mug I bought for him for Xmas because I had just got a beaten. The rattle of a drawer still sends shivers up my spine as I brace for the beatings I used to receive as a child.
My step-father combed my hair everyday, washed my clothes, taught me how to iron, had food prepared (even if I hid it in napkins) and curbed my television watching so that I could become an adult who reads, writes, and creates. He was consistent with his discipline, I never got a beaten for "no reason." And he was home every night.
Let's celebrate the good fathers, the OK dads, and the ones who were at least there for us. No parent is perfect, but by constantly condemning them, we will never appreciate the good they did provide.
Here is the video for Father Father by NYOIL. Enjoy, shed a few tears, and share with friends and family. Seems we all know mothers, but how many fathers do we know? We can instill pride in our men by encouraging them to BE good fathers, showing them there ARE good fathers. It's up to us to be the change we want to see in the world. The revolution starts in the home.
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