My Father's Son

*Reprinted from June 13, 2008

June is known for one more thing: Father's Day. My dad is probably cringing as he reads this because he was so unsure of what I would say about him if I ever decided to blog about our relationship. I suppose he believes I'd simply talk about things that would project him as a bad father. But the truth is, he may not have always been there when I wanted him to be, but he was there when I needed him.

It would take weeks to describe all of the intricacies of our relationship. We don't have a traditional father/son relationship, but what we have works for us. There are moments over the years that have outlasted any one time I've been disappointed by him. Like, one night on the train after a concert when talking about Ving Rhames, he busts out, "Five years ago, he starred in a play called "When I Come Back to Harlem, Who's Gonna Be There?'" and all of the White folks believed him. Or, when I was unsure where he was on 9/11 or when he saved my life a few days later.

There's no simple way to explain how we are towards one another, when we say 'I love you' it almost sounds weird, more than likely because it hasn't been practiced over the years. But I've learned so much from my dad over the years, more than he realizes, more than what he thinks. Like, I've gotten a true sense of community from him, being an advocate and an activist for the youth, and I've learned from mistakes he's made. He's no Cliff Huxtable or James Evans, but he's my dad and neither of us can deny the other...we look so much alike!

Aside from my dad, there have been other men who have served as a father figure throughout my life. My step-father Eric for one, he would always talk about being self-sufficient, never having to depend on a woman for anything. So, he taught me to cook, how to wash clothes and things of that nature. My uncle Troy, who has a quiet cool about him, I've been able to pick up things from him in regards to maintaining a household, managing your finances and a model for what a husband should be like. My great-grandfather, who as long as I can remember has taken me everywhere with him, I learned hard work from him. My aunt Danielle's father Ronnie, who was my mother's step-father, but essentially my grandfather because he was there for most of my life, I watched him put in long hours and take care of his family.

I always speak of the women who raised me, but these men had an equal hand in their influence over me. So to them and all of the fathers out there, not your baby-daddy, Happy Father's Day!

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