My dad is hilarious! The running joke in my family is that God created him on Sabbath day while lying in a hammock sipping Piña colada. My dad was fashioned in joy; he is extra special, fun and hilarious. My friends say my family should be on reality television, and my siblings and I definitely agree. Don’t get it twisted; my dad will be the star of the show, followed after by yours truly, of course. My dad is lit and equally annoying to his children. My life and our family wouldn’t be what it is without my father’s antics and personality.
As I launch Pearls from our Fathers, a story project about other fathers, I thought it necessary to share 10 lessons, pearls if you may, from my father. Some pearls he gave me, and others I have had to dig up from the not so pretty moments in our relationship.
- I am valued, loved and worthy. For as long as I can remember, my father lights up when I walk into a room. EVERY TIME!
- We will enjoy the little we have. He is a content man. When we had a lot, he was content. When we had a little, he was content. When things fell apart, my father is an example of a man who didn’t let his misfortune turn him inward, bitter, angry or hurtful. He didn’t take things out on us, and he supports, and still support us in many other ways. We are always his priority in abundance and in lack. My dad is a content man.
- Be proactive ALWAYS. You can’t let life happen to you. Have a dream? Plan! Do you want something? Plan and work towards it. My father is not a believer in crossing the bridge when we get there. He believes in being proactive and not reactive.
- No one is perfect! We all get it wrong and even when we come from a place of love and good intentions, the impact of our actions and words may not mirror our intentions. This was the pearl that birth Pearls from our Fathers. A few months after I turned 28, my dad broke my trust. It was a hard season, and I shut him out. I am in a better place, though emotional residues from that season still plague me. I truly saw my dad for the first time — loving, hardworking and present father, and a flawed and imperfect human — I’m learning to give him grace.
- He supported my writing. I have a sense if my dad had spoken negatively over my writing as he did over my desire to be an actress (still glaring at you dad for that one), I may not be a writer today. He edited the first manuscript I ever wrote. My love for writing was actually inspired by my love for book spurred on my by father’s love for books.
- Dignity in Labor. I was 17 and getting ready to college when my dad gave me an advice that would forever change the way I work. We were sitting in a bus at a bus stop, and while we waited for the bus to move, we watched as a street cleaner perform the task of collecting trash off the streets and from the gutter all while dancing away to the mysterious melody streaming from the headphones attached to his ears. He smiled at everyone who looked him in the eye long enough to catch his greeting. Honestly, for me, there was nothing there, but my father, as only he can, made it a teachable moment. As the bus moved along, he said,"I want you to take a page from that man. See how joy-filled and happy he is as he goes about his job picking up trash and cleaning after other people and their mess. His attitude is what I’ll refer to as having dignity in your labor, and I want you to emulate that. You may never clean a street or serve anyone necessarily in similar roles because you are getting an education and planning on going to law school. However, no matter what you do and where you work, I want you to always find joy and dignity in your work. Life is unpredictable, and your journey will come with curves and bumps, but whatever you do, give it your very best no matter what. You are not what you do for a living…you do it, but you are not it. Do it well and don’t let it define you, snatch your joy or rip your confidence and dignity to shreds.“
- Eat and Rest! You think better when you have food in your belly and feel rested.
- Be yourself! He is quite adamant about that as a person though he can be extra. Love you Dad! LOL It is something I value and constantly emulate.
- Ma binu! Ma ja oo! For as long as I can remember my dad says the same thing EVERY TIME I leave a room. “Ma ja oo! Ma binu!”(Don’t get angry, and don’t fight). It always annoys me, and it still does. I once asked him why he says it, and he said, “you are a passionate woman. When something unfair or unjust happens, you stand up and you speak your mind. I’m hoping these are the only reasons you get angry and fight. I say that to remind you to only fight and get angry about things that matter not the trivial things you might encounter on your day to day when you walk out the door. And when you do encounter injustice, I hope you’d also keep in mind to fight and get angry differently, and not like the world fights.
- He and mother gave up A LOT so my siblings and I wouldn’t have to.