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Lessons I Learned From My Father…

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Lessons I Learned From My Father…

My Daddy and I

As a self-professed “Daddy’s girl,” I often reflect upon the memory of my father fondly. Charles, or “Chuck” as he was affectionately called by many, was one of the greatest men I have ever had the pleasure to know and love. I often tell people that my father was the first man I have ever loved, and I am glad that I had such a great example for a father.

For anyone who knew myself and my members of my immediate family, everyone used to call me his “twin.” I inherited my father’s dashing good looks,  somewhat reserved demeanor, his wicked sense of humor, and his “book smarts” (as confessed by my mother). As a kid, wherever my father was, that’s where I wanted to be. I was even told that my first word was “daddy.” What I loved about him was that he wasn’t the type of guy that believed nurturing was reserved solely for my mother. He did everything for me…except for combing my hair, and was proud of it.  His lap was my safe space and his smile was my sunshine.

In a world where 70% of Black children are born or raised within a single-parent home, I count myself tremendously blessed to have had the positive influences of both my mother and father growing up. There are so many reasons why I admire this man and still thrive from the fruits of his hard work and dedication, that I think I could write a book. But, instead of doing that, I’ll share a few of the most important life lessons I learned from my father. He taught me…

1). There is no substitute for hard work. Sometimes while growing up, I used to get frustrated by how much my dad worked until I caught a glimpse of some of our bills. What I didn’t understand then, but what I eventually did grow to understand, was that providing for his family was one of my father’s top priorities. We were not rich by any means, which meant that my parents had to work to provide a comfortable life for their children and for themselves. My dad taught me that there is no substitute for hard work, and hard work does eventually pay off.

There were times in grade school where I would get so upset at myself for not getting an A+ on that paper or that project I worked so hard on. When I came home to tell him what happened, he would listen to me whine, and then ask one me one simple question: “Did you do your best?” I’d say “yes,” and he’d simply follow it up by saying, “Well, that’s all you can do.” My dad made me comfortable with the idea of putting my best foot forward and rolling with the punches afterward. He’d often say, “All I ask is that you do your best.” I truly believe it’s that same work ethic he helped instill in me that has gotten me to where I am today.

2). To demand respect and to voice unfair treatment. My dad was a very calm man who hated confusion and very rarely raised his voice. But, if he thought something was unfair, he’d speak up about it, and I’m happy to say that I learned that from him. He never took anything laying down, and taught me to fight for what I believed in. I remember the time when I was registering for classes in the 9th grade at my local high school, and my dad went along with me to help. The guidance counselor had my previous transcripts in front of him (which indicated that I was a student that excelled). Things were going fairly well, until the guidance counselor (who happened to be a White man) asked me if I needed to be enrolled in any remedial courses. I didn’t quite understand why he asked that, but I responded “No.” I looked over at my dad, confused, and I could see he was fuming. We finished the enrollment process shortly after and returned home. My dad was so upset, he could barely tell my mom what had just happened. Unable to contain his anger any longer, he decided to drive up to the high school that same day, with me in tow, to give that guidance counselor a piece of his mind. Needless to say, he raised hell that day. He expressed his discontentment to the high school principal and was adamant about the fact that the guidance counselor had unfairly questioned the intelligence of his child simply because she was Black. He demanded an apology, and got one. My dad was never afraid to speak truth to power, and I will never forget the invaluable lessons he taught me that day: to demand respect and to voice unfair treatment.

3). The necessity of expressing my love for those around me. For most of his life, my dad was a big guy, which could be intimidating especially for boys that wanted to take his daughter out. But he was one of the most sensitive men I’ve ever known – a big teddy bear, if you will. He was also unafraid to show this side of himself. He was the kind of man that not only showed love to his family everyday, but expressed it verbally, as well. There was not a day that went by where he neglected to say “I love you.” I knew when he said “I love you” that he meant it. I remember as a teenager, he would often hound me, saying, “You didn’t tell me you loved me today.” Being a hormonal girl with an attitude, I would get annoyed at this, but as an adult looking back, I can’t help but appreciate his loving nudges. I’m proud to say that those were our last words to each other, and he left hearing that from me…voluntarily and unashamed. Now I, too, am unafraid to tell those that I love around me that I love them, and I try to do it as often as I can, just as he did.

4). How to say “I’m sorry.” Another one of the things that I appreciated about my dad was that he was never afraid to apologize for something he may have done wrong. I remember the time when I was around 20 or 21 years old, when we got into an argument. He scolded me (wrongly) for something he thought that I should have done. Even though I tried, unsuccessfully, to tell him my side of the story, he wasn’t hearing it. I remember crying and storming away, frustrated that I hadn’t been listened to. But, minutes later, he came to me and apologized for yelling at me and not listening to what I had to say. He said “I’m sorry,” hugged me, and told me that he loved me. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him to say that to me, especially since he was the “parent” and I was the “child,” but he did, which taught me to do the same, regardless of the circumstances.

I don’t hesitate when I say that I don’t know where I would be without my Dad. I’m the woman I am today because of him, which is why I try to honor his memory every day.

Happy Father’s Day to the best daddy ever.

-Love, Your Favorite Daughter