I would say to him, “I dare you to say I love you.”
Today is more of though provoking day since it has been years since my father passed. Today is a day of reflection for the relationship that I so desperately wanted with my father. Knowing that will never happened is something I’ve had to come to terms with over the years. Wishing for those moments the 2 of us could chat & get to know the real person. To have those moments to slow down, relax a little & laugh a little.
I want to preface that I’m in no way bashing my dad or throwing him under the bus by sharing this. I guess I define my view of my father kind of like a museum piece. I was in awe, I could watch & admire, but never touch.
I describe my dad as hard-working, a financial provider, a home provider, committed, determined, perfectionist, focused, smart as heck (Einstein IQ), brilliant…. seriously, when they tested his IQ, he was at an Einstein level of intelligence! He never complained or expressed his feelings much. In fact, I rarely ever knew what he was thinking or what his intentions were. He was such an introvert, would come to all conclusions/final decisions in his own mind & then law was set in stone. Having emotional conversations & being intimate seemed like torture to him. He was the decision-maker with a meticulous thought process. He was the disciplinary, not the one to hug you if you were hurt or place a band-aid on a scraped knee. He lived by rules & exactness; that was the scientist in him. I think this particular story describes my father to a tee. He completed his doctorate degree in the hospital while undergoing radiation for cancer in his throat. Now that is fierce determination.
As I was growing up, I saw how regimented he was with his day-to-day routine. It broke my heart how hard he worked, never gave himself time to relax, have pleasure, enjoy the company of others. He was a lab rat, literally … lived in his lab all day & most nights. He wasn’t one to sit & have mindless, casual banter by the water fountain. He had no idea how to do that; that just wasn’t his way. Actually, we never chatted; it was only discussions. Those discussions really meant him outlining how we could improve as humans. One thing very few people knew of my father was that he was unbelievable committed to his students, worked tirelessly for his students, worked insanely long hours, writing grants & doing research. Maybe there was an unconscious jealousy that I wish his commitment to his students could have been lavished on us once in awhile. But he was honest to a fault … he would never produce a paper unless the results were 100% precise & accurate. I don’t think the rest of the professors & staff understood him or probably related to him very well which also made me sad. I used to always ask myself, “why can’t he just tell people who he was as a person & why he did things the way he did? Why wouldn’t you want people to understand you better?”
Swimming was the only thing that brought us close; meaning he would actually attend my swim meets. Mind you, he would be running this elaborate electronic timing system the entire swim meet, but my mother told me as soon as he heard my race come to the blocks, he would stand up, walk away from the desk & watch we swim from a distance. He never hugged me after a race or gave me a high-five for doing well or winning, but I did know he was so proud of me, silently proud of me.
For someone who isn’t the most sensitive, he made the most emotional decision of wanting to adopt me. This was his decision, not my mothers’. My mother even told me that he suggested they not tell me that I was black & maybe I will never realize that I was different. For one of the smartest men walking the planet, I thought that couldn’t be a more ignorant thought. Think about it folks, I’m black, my family is white & my hometown was pretty much 90, of not, 95% white. How could I not?!?! Not the point! The point is I understood his secretive thought-process. He didn’t think skin color (for that matter, gender, religion, income status) should be an excuse for someone not to have access to education & the tools for educational success. His point was if you gave everyone the avenue, the opportunity & the tools to succeed, they would thrive educationally; therefore, thrive in life & improve their circumstances. He drilled into us that an education & equality were the 2 most important things in life. Those lessons have so much meaning to me than I could ever put into words.
Like many in his generation, he would always say, “ When I retire, I will relax & really enjoy life.” He did ONE thing on his bucket list (saw the fiords in Norway) & then he passed after an agonizing battle with cancer. Like many others, he struggled with his death, physically & emotionally. He struggled, not with the fact he would be away from his family, but that his work wasn’t finished. There wasn’t closure. The final paper, the paper of his career, was never completed.
Our past, our family & life experiences create the person we are today. Everything that he did made such an impression on me. We learn so much from our parents & not only do we learn from their positive messages. We learn from their mistakes & shortcomings as well. That’s not a bad thing as we have to remember, they are human, too, with baggage & lessons learned from their childhood & past. Observing my father shaped much of my mannerisms, actions, decisions & reactions in life. Maybe that is why I want to hug more, be around people more, help more, give more, make others feel welcome, live a life that is more care-free & not based on rules. I want to act goofy, laugh more, be spontaneous & not take things so seriously. You can read me like an open book. But, I’m also neat, orderly, honest, want to do things the right way & complete things to perfection…. well as close to perfection as possible. All this & more, I learned from my father, so I thank you Daddy for helping me become the best daughter/human I could be.
This look is kind of the polar opposite of my father. The trapeze shift dress was loose, free-flowing. The mixing of prints is a bit rebellious, yet fun & whimsical with the choice of floral & animal print. We choose a backdrop that was pure & natural, but not so far removed. Our town center was perfect with trees & plants in full bloom. People were bustling everywhere & the preschool just let the children out to run free in the grass. I loved the entire time shooting in our little town!
How did your father mold you? What lessons did he teach you? Lessons he taught you that he didn’t even realize that there was lesson being taught? What impactful moments do you remember? Was it the way he held himself? What he stood for? How he protected you? What does your Father mean to you?
Would love to hear from you, please leave your heartfelt comments! Thanks so much for stopping by!!!