Sunday, June 17, 2007

Celebrating my Dad

Last Saturday I attended a memorial service for a friend's dad. The deceased was 87 when he crossed over. It was a joyous affair. He had a great life. He served his country, his community and more importantly his family. My friend organized both services, one at the shore and one locally. The activities surrounding the planning, helped him "not think about it."

LD kept saying," he had a good life." I gently advised, "it's your daddy, its ok to be sad."

I am one of few people in my little world lucky enough to have both parents still on this side. My parents have always been supportive of me and my brothers. They encouraged our participation in community and school activities.

My Dad worked in a steel mill. He was one of the first black men to work in "management." He was a foreman in the inspection/quality control department. Too often, he trained his white bosses. Despite the indignities, he ate shit because it was a good job with benefits. Critical elements of raising a family.

He was very active locally in the Civil Rights Movement. It was not uncommon for our home to be filled with local activists, or trips to D.C. He was one of the unsung foot soldiers in the movement.

He was determined for us to get the education and jobs denied to him and those who preceded him.

Dinnertime was filled with discussions about local and national happenings. My love of politics and sports was nurtured during these conversations.

Hard work and zero expectations from white folks was drilled into our heads.

Self-reliance was his mantra. I learned how to tune up a car beside my brothers. They, in turn, learned how to cook, clean, and sew. " Learning how to hem your pants doesn't make you queer." (My Dad, politically correct? Never.)

Last year was particularly challenging for me personally and professionally. My parents were key in keeping me from a breakdown. Their wisdom, patience, and humor were critical.

I can't remember why, but my folks and my ex met me in my office last summer. When my Dad walked into "my corner office", he was visibly moved. That struck a cord, My Dad is seriously old school, "the only feminine side men should get in touch with should involve a woman." Hugs and kisses were not his style. But the love was ever present, displayed by his other actions.

The first time I can recall a physical display of affection is when I was seventeen. I was about head to college when I discovered a tumor in my breast. As I was being, wheeled off to surgery, I was a mess. As usual my parents were there. In a drug induced state " I said, I don't have much now." My Dad, said "Don't worry about it, more than a mouthful is a waste." He smiled and kissed me on the forehead. We both laughed. Humor in a frightening situation. Classic Pop. My mother was horrified.

I will have brunch with my folks today. It is a typical Sunday. I make it my business to spend time with my folks. I stopped taking their presence in my life for granted long time ago.

My Dad scolded me not to take him anywhere expensive. He still worries about my financial situation. Why? Because I'm still his daughter.

No comments: