There we were, two young, inexperienced, attorneys. We knew something was wrong.
We talked at length about what to do. She gave her suggestions. I gave mine.
Should we confront our supervisors? Should we let it play out and hope things would change? As we mulled over the possibilities, I suggested calling my dad.
She was understandably perplexed. I, oblivious to her apprehension, felt certain my dad would know what to do.
Growing up, I thought my dad was larger than life. To me, he was the smartest man alive. It seemed he excelled at everything. He pastored churches, became a bishop, and eventually the president of our national convention. Despite his accomplishments, he remained humble; no job was beneath him. He often walked around our church picking up garbage because he, along with the janitor, wanted to ensure the church was presentable.
He encouraged us to excel in school, follow God, and be genuinely good people. His favorite quotes were, “Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all” and “If a job is once begun, never leave it till it’s done.” He instilled in us the value of hard work and integrity.
I recall the pride I felt when he received his graduate degree. As he walked across the stage, my heart swelled and I thought to myself, I will be like him one day. In honor of the occasion I wore one of my favorite outfits and my Jheri curl pinned to the side.
He was a voracious reader; we always had a library in our home. He read books on a myriad of topics including religion, history, and current events. He had a great vocabulary, and could comfortably discuss almost any subject. He, frequently and eloquently wove his newly acquired knowledge into his sermons. Although I often talked and giggled with friends during service, and couldn’t always recount what he preached about, I knew whatever it was, it was good.
What I really admire about him is he always strove to be better. He wanted to be a better person, a better husband, and a better dad. He read parenting books and gained valuable insight into his role as a father. Those books inspired him to take us on individual dates; dates which involved eating at a restaurant and shopping. The shopping trips were the best because he didn’t force us to comb the sale racks, like my shopping savvy mother. I am sure he was responsible for the Cross Colours and Karl Kani clothing that Rachel had during her bad girl phase (long story). There were also swing around nights, when he would take each of us by our arms and spin us around (he was a human amusement park ride). We enjoyed walks to the ice cream shop with him, where I’d always get bubble gum ice cream (even as a child I valued two for one deals-gum and ice cream…what’s not to love?). We took family road trips: we visited Yosemite and historical sites in the south. During our trips, we played games like, “I am going on a trip and I am taking a…” and sang songs. He was often the off-key lead.
He read stories to us with such passion that I often felt as though I were transported to the destinations described in the books. Because of him, I developed my love for reading.
My dad was also a strict disciplinarian. He believed in respect and good manners and wanted to ensure we knew right from wrong. Although his generation believed children were to be seen and not heard, he allowed me to voice my opinions. We had spirited debates. Sometimes those debates ended in spankings because, “I forgot who the parent was.” I recall times when my mom said he was going to spank me when he got home from church because of my mouth. On those nights, I’d volunteer to go to bed early so I’d be sleep when he arrived. After all, only a heartless parent would wake their sleeping angel for a spanking. Most nights he let me sleep.
Today, dad and I, talk almost daily and many times multiple times a day. Forty years have passed but he remains larger than life to me. It is hard for me to imagine anyone better to call when an issue arises. I love, respect, and admire him: he is truly one of my favorite people.
Dad, thank you for being you; because of you, I am who I am.
Happy Father’s Day.