When I was 13 years old, you rescued Victoria and I from a crumbling domestic situation, and completely changed the course of our lives. In essence, that would make you my hero.
Ever since I could remember, I’ve always prefered your company over my mother’s. Even before you all separated, I can recall being a humble Daddy’s girl. Although I spent the majority of my childhood with my mom, I accredit you for raising me, since you’ve done the majority of the dirty work; putting up with my messy adolescent years, awkward teens, and currently, struggle induced 20’s.
Even with all the years that you and I have had to grow close, it was only just recently that I was able to truly gleam just how incredible of an experience it has been to be raised by a single father. If I remember correctly, I believe my first recollection of this came when you were left alone in a shell of a house after “she” left you and took all of the years of “love” you all had built together with her in an abrupt departure. Victoria and I being away at school only made this new life more difficult to cope with apart from each other. But it was during our cross-state phone calls that I was reintroduced to you. This new dad was broken, with an unfamiliar imbalance in his voice, one that was completely different from the stern, roar that I had come accustomed to from our kitchen table talks and your Sunday sermons.
Still, one of the most remarkable aspects about you is that you don’t stay down for long, and from the ashes, within the years post-divorce(s), I have witnessed you gradually get your groove back.
Your walk, corrected from a weighted limp to a confident stride. Your talk, still gentle, but with more conviction and intention. Your spirit, steady, like the waves of the Carolina beaches we grew accustomed to being tussled by, pulled to and fro, but never drowning under the weight of this world. Your display of resilience has shown me that no matter what we go through as a family, or even as individuals, we will always come out better on the other side of it.
My second realization came as I jammed to Nas – Daughters on the C train during my morning commute to work. I’m usually a emotionally composed individual, but something came over me when I heard Nasir rap, “And I ain’t tryna mess ya thing up/But I just wanna see you dream up/I finally understand/It ain’t easy to raise a girl as a single man.” And I finally understood, and this new found understanding nearly brought me to tears in front of the strangers who shared the subway cart with me. It was as if all the weight of every sacrifice you have ever made for my sister and I (told or untold), every last dollar you’ve ever spent so that we could have food or pocket change, and every tear you’ve ever cried out to God in need of help to support our family, came and knocked the wind out of me.
Although I’ll never know the weight and pressure endured by a single father, these realizations have at the least given me an empathy when dealing with you on a day to day basis.
You’ve made it so I would never have to experience “Dead-Beat Dad” personified. You’ve taught me to speak up and have instilled in me countless game when dealing with the opposite sex. I blame you for all of my closest friends being guys and I thank you for not ever giving up on me even in the midst of my selfishness and pure confusion. You taught me how to express my feelings even when it was easier for me to shut down, and you’ve gotten in the trenched with me during some of my darkest times. You’re why I have such a charming sense of humor and why I am able to connect with people, beyond the surface. I pray because I watched you talk to God out loud and I’m not afraid of what my future holds because I am equipped with the tools you’ve given me.
I am who I am today and who I will be tomorrow because of my single father. And I wouldn’t trade you for the world.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.