My father. He was there from the beginning and is still here for me, even after my mom passed away 12 years ago; even as I am an adult now.
He ironed my clothes for school all of my K-12 years. Even jeans. Though my siblings and I didn’t grow up with much money…at all really, we never went to school hungry. We never went to school wrinkled. We got a good night’s sleep before exams. Most of us are academic behemoths. All of his daughters have at least 1 college degree.
When I was young, anytime my older sister was home sick, he would make me think that I was walking to school by myself, and toughening me up, but truthfully, he followed me the whole way. Made sure I was safe. Ducked behind trees and buildings. A year passed before I ever caught him. I still laugh about it to this day. It’s what love looks like.
He cooks everything well. Doesn’t matter if it is one of his native Jamaican foods like curry goat with rice and peas or jerk chicken with fried plantains versus something more American like grilled burgers (his burgers will have you slappin’ folks; they’re that good) or cornbread from scratch. He’s learned some Black American cuisine too, like collard greens, albeit we spent more time growing up eating callaloo than collards.
He can build or fix anything. Literally. Plumbing. Electrical outlets and wiring. Cars. Boats. He’s the kind of nuanced man that will rebuild a diesel engine and then paint a picture, then garden, then cook a meal, throw in some laundry and then fix plumbing. He’s never been interested in gender defining what he should or shouldn’t do because he’s good at whatever he attempts with sincerity.
He’s hilarious. Cracks great jokes. We are both introverts, so we talk about how we dodge parties/events and share tips and strategies for ducking extroverts, ha! I usually have such conversations with my best friend who is also an INTJ, but the ones with my dad are hilarious as well.
He probes my mind with good questions/thoughts that get me thinking. We have interesting political conversations together.
My father, a Black man who is 70 years of age has defied so many stereotypes of who Black men are and can be. Not even because he’s concerned with those stereotypes (though he does not take the ignorant route of pretending that racism and classism are non-factors in life—we talk about them regularly, with rage) and is “trying” to prove them wrong but simply because who he is defies them, already.
My father isn’t a superhero or a villain. He’s a human being that I love and respect; one I can’t pay back (just like I could never pay my late mother back) for what he’s done for me, especially during very difficult times.
He’s…one of the good people in my life. I only have a few. But they’ve been more than sufficient. So today is a day to honor that, and especially a day to honor him.