This Sunday is Father's Day. A day we observe to remind us to remember our fathers in some way. A day to give thanks and appreciation, for the love and care we have received and are receiving, from our dads. I wanted to pen this week’s post acknowledging my hero….my dad. Now my dad cares little about a lot of sentimental or emotional praise. He comes from that era where being the stoic “man of the house” was the norm and expected. Therefore, I will limit my words of praise to simply this: I have, in my forty years on Earth, meet and known many fine dads, and as a student of history have read about many great men , yet, I can truthfully say nothing makes me prouder than to be Elijah Singleton Jr.’s son. So here goes my letter:
Happy Father’s Day! I wanted to take a minute to let you know how much I care for you and honored that you are my father. There are several reasons why I feel this way. First, no matter how much we struggled you and mom always made my childhood a time of enjoyment filled with wonderful memories that live over and over in my mind. You found time to guide and instill in me my love of sports, to engage my crazy ideas about everything, and to let me make mistakes, not due to indifference but due to my maturation, in life while always being the safety net to catch me from falling to hard. My memory of my childhood and youth are full of vivid recollections of countless experiences we had together. You and mom may not have had the financial means to give me everything I wanted, but I don't remember that at all. I do remember you giving me something of far greater value, that man-to-man relationship between a father and son that money cannot buy at any price.
You also taught me more by example, than words can ever sum up about the principle of honesty. A concept that you defined as always telling the truth, paying your debts in a timely fashion, fulfilling all of your promises to other people, and never taking anything that didn't belong to you. These lessons guide me in my daily life, and while I can always do better, I know that I continue to strive every day to fulfill those lessons because letting you down has never been an option for me.
Another reason that I am glad you are my father is because you taught me to appreciate the dignity of an honest day’s work. You made me feel there is nothing more honorable than taking pride in one’s labor. Whether the task was simple or complex, I can still hear your mantra of giving a 100% effort or don’t do it at all, ring in my head. Now my job these days consists of doing things that do not require me to get my hands dirty like you did working all those years in a factory. And truthfully, I am not yet able to think of my work as being quiet as worthy of the accolades and rewards that should be given to those like yourself, who literally built our country with their hands. I still believe, thanks to your example, that calloused hands, or a shirt soaked with sweat, should be symbols of high honor in our society. The pride and fulfillment in giving a honest day’s work to advance an industry, our state or our country forward is what has made our nation strong and I thank you for instilling the “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” work ethic into me.
Pop, I want to thank you for always letting me be whatever it is that my life’s journey has taken me to. Thank you for supporting me through academic contests just as strongly, and loudly, as you did for my athletic ones. Thank you for teaching me that it is perfectly acceptable to strive to be whatever I want to be in life and to not adhere to what others would want me to be. Thank you for teaching me that the level of my “manliness’ will be based upon the love that I carry within myself as I live my life and that which I show to others. And, thank you for teaching me to respect women in a way that truly understands just how equal they are to men in our society. You taught me to see them in the same manner in which I see myself in: powerful, strong, and independent. Seems like such a common sense thing really, but too often in today’s society, treating women with respect and dignity seems like the exception rather than the norm. Having a daughter myself now, makes those lessons even more pronounced in my life.
In closing Pop, I want you to know how much I love you. Now that I have two sons to raise I lean on the lessons and example you set for me in how I fashion their upbringing. I will continue to teach them that being a good man comes from embracing the humanity that we are all born with, and treating everyone around them, (regardless of race, gender, creed or sexual orientation), in the same way. I will continue to tell them that displaying emotion isn’t a sign of weakness but a sign of humanity. That having empathy for their neighbors should be coupled with action to make the world a better place for those who come after us. And, that their grandfather remains the greatest role model I have ever had and to follow his example….it’s worked out pretty well for me.
Gang, if your dad is still with you or has passed on, take a minute this weekend to honor your father in some way. I would love to hear your thoughts on your dad and your relationship with him. Use the tag #HonorThyFather on Facebook or Twitter when you do. Happy Father's Day to all my fellow dads out there. See you next week!