Imagine a guardian angel, busily wandering the world invisibly, specifically looking for your soul to protect. The remainder of your team of ethereal assistants is short-staffed, attending a harp-playing workshop over on Cloud Nine. Down below, you see two people. One doing much of nothing; the other is effectively putting up a sign, “I am here for you, doing all that I can, and whatever it takes to get you through.” In each day of my world…my father plays the part of that consistent heavenly helper. He is physically gone, but spiritually resides forever in my heart, my mind, and on the clouds that govern MY space.
No one [human] love could ever compare to that of which I felt for my great, late father, Lorenzo Washington. The kindhearted approach in which he spoke to me fostered the very acquiescent side of my character. As a child, it was love that I saw in him and I watched him do so many things diligently. I watched him mow the lawn when the grass grew too high for me to stand in. I watched him care for my mother and tidy up the house when she was too ill to clean it. At four years old, I watched him make freshly brewed coffee while preparing for work at 3 am [and frequently joined him for a cup]. I watched him drive me and my siblings around on the city bus after his daily tour of duty ended. I watched him set booby traps for the black widow spiders that once in a while took residence in the basement of our home. I watched him change the dirty oil in our 1969 green dodge station wagon. I watched him ride his bicycle down the Boulevard and back again. I watched him greet every single person with a warm smile and a friendly hello. I watched him love my mother – effortlessly.
I watched my father be the “role model” dad every kid on the block hoped for, and the husband I’m certain every woman in those times – and these – could only wish for. But he wasn’t just my father; he was liked by a community and loved by a country. He was a man with great integrity and compassion for others. I intrinsically looked up to him for protection and guidance. Regrettably, at the age of eight, I lost him to systemic lupus. During the years that followed, I didnt quite understand that as I would grow older, I wouldnt have his physical presence and security, the warmth of his smile, the embrace of his hugs, or the wisdom of his astuteness to console me, but I would have his love forever. Through him, he left with me his spirit of humility, his heart of kindness, and his inspiration to share. He was my father – and he was a man to love.
Of all the duties and responsibilities in the universe, fatherhood is the most important role a man can ever employ to his family. Being a good provider, maintaining a level of decency, having integrity in his work, being a man who understands what responsibility is, the concept of give-and-take, the healthy ingredients for making a family work, creating balance, employing honesty, and most of all, sharing unconditional love, are just some of the attributes that make a man known as a “father.”
Bill Cosby’s crafty account illustrates, “The strong father role (which doesn’t have to be associated with beatings and remoteness) is not to be totally discounted as part of the recipe for raising healthy children, if it is executed skillfully and given in measured doses at the most appropriate of times.” Though mothers play this “strong-role” too, there is no substitute for the role that an accountable and loving father can give. Amazingly, my father never had to raise a belt to our little bottoms; his humble voice and silent approach was enough to set us straight. We respected him and we loved him for being our dad.
The true experience of fatherhood begins long before the birth of the first child. Each stage, beginning with infant, toddler, preschool, preteen, teenager to adulthood, presents new and challenging developments and issues for fathers to resolve. The beauty of the experience emerges when we [fathers and mothers] discover creative and thriving ways to accomplishing this mystical “task” successfully.
Most of us know that being a parent is a full-time job. There is no application for it, no resume, no six-chapter book with highlights on the do’s and don’ts, no single-right approach. It is a job that comes with a lifetime commitment. It is a job for the strong, the humble, the loving, and the reliable. It is not to say that we won’t fall or make mistakes along the way – the magnificence I believe, is in getting back up, picking up the pieces, and somehow finding the strength to pull it all together. Walking away from responsibility is never an option for a father.
On Father’s Day of every year, we reserve the time to honor those men that are and have been, in and throughout our lives as the guardians of our hearts, the fathers of our children, the brothers we adore, the uncles who have guided us, the grandfathers who have provided us wisdom, cherished us with endless devotion, loved us like the Sun, and made our days and nights more comforting and just a little bit brighter. My father remains my guardian angel. Through his spirit, I am reassured in knowing that I will always have a man to love.
Love for your Tuesday. Happy Belated Fathers Day!