I’ve always wanted to be a dad, I’ve been writing since I was 8 years old and have been looking forward to fatherhood about just as long.
But for those who know, I had a really good dad but he passed in April. So naturally I’ve thought a lot about him, his legacy, what he taught me, how he lived and how I could make him proud.
See my dad made fatherhood look easy when I was younger, never saw him scared, he always had an answer, he worked hard and handled every social situation with ease.
As I aged he let me know it wasn’t always as easy as it looked but even then, you didn’t see my dad deal with fear.
He never acknowledged any emotion of being scared until our last conversation which was prior to the cardiac surgery (and its complications), that he died from.
And I only saw him cry at my grandmother’s funeral and I was 21 years old and it scared me to death.
I sit here now seven months from fatherhood, happy as hell and scared as hell all at the same time.
I think about how am I going to prepare this child for the world without being too hard on him/her.
I think my own southside upbringing, public and catholic school, a somewhat tough neighborhood but great relatives, excellent neighbors and friends I have to this day.
I also think how my parents wanted me to be better than they were. My dad especially, he went through a lot, breaking down racial barriers at Tilden High and then honorably serving his country in the Navy while becoming one of the first black engineers on a destroyer. He always had such good advice from his various experiences and I know he had some tough times on the job. I think of him when I have a bad day and how he always maintained his composure and worked hard regardless of what was going on around. He had that military discipline and always stressed for me to my best.
I want to have that steady hand my dad had, he was unwavering, when he said something he meant it, when he wanted you to do something, you did it. Compliments didn’t come easy from him, you earned praise from him but it made you want to work hard to please him. He’s been gone six months and I’m still going as hard as I can because I don’t want to let him down but its also having pride in myself. He always said a man’s life is his job. To him there was honor in hard work, he told me whatever I did, to be my best at it.
I’ve thought so much about how he supported me, if you were doing the right thing, he had your back, you didn’t have to ask. When I was younger I didn’t think about all that and now with him gone and my child on the way I realize how great he was. I mean just these six months without him and the four months of his illness proceeding there has been such a void in my life. He was always that first phone call I made when something happened (sorry mom), and then when I got a few days off I’d drive downstate to meet with him in person.
It seems now that void will be filled but now I’m in his role, having to be strong dad to prepare this little person for the world.
I know my dad prepared me for this and everyone tells me I’ll be a good dad but my example was extraordinary.
I just wish he were here to see it.
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