Six years ago today my dad passed away. It’s amazing how it feels both like so long and and just yesterday at the same time. My whole world feels different without my dad in it. I thought about not writing a post today. But that didn’t feel right. I thought about writing a letter to my dad like I have done before. That didn’t feel right either. I started to make this blog post about how lately people who disagree with my journey to being a Single Mother By Choice have been invoking my dad’s memory for their own agendas and in an effort dissuade me from becoming a mother. As if they knew him as well as I did when he lived with me and talked to me daily. However, that did feel right either. It seemed like a post for another day and maybe a little too negative for today.
I eventually decided that the best way to remember my dad today was to focus on the great things he taught me. So, here are five lessons my dad taught me.
- Unconditional Love. If you are amongst those of us who are truly blessed, than you know your parents love you. You know that they may get angry with you , disappointed in you, and even just plan old tired of you but no matter what they still love you. I knew that too. I never doubted my dad’s love for me or my brothers. It was just obvious to us and anyone who knew him. My dad’s love for his children just spilled out of him. However, it was not until he passed away that I understood exactly how unconditional that love was. I still feel it everyday even now 6 years after he has gone. It feels like a hug on the inside, filling me up with comfort, confidence, and security.
- Generosity. You don’t have to have a lot to do a lot. I feel like we were the poor family amongst my extended family of aunts and uncles. We lived in the inner city. Our house wasn’t in great shape. I had Payless sneakers when it was not cool to have them. But I had great birthdays, awesome Christmases and never missed a school trip or dance. My dad always made sure we had enough. But not just us. He made sure other’s had enough too. As an adult on Christmas we’d have to wait for my dad to get home before we exchanged presents. He’d get up early and take gifts to my cousin’s kids who he knew weren’t getting anything. Not only did my dad make sure me and my brother had what we needed for our proms he paid for at least 3 other kids to go on theirs. One of them became prom king. There were also several other teens that he made sure had food to eat and a little money in their pocket whenever he saw them. And he purposely would go to see them. It wasn’t just when he ran into them. My dad tithed and was a living testimony that God will make sure you have enough. He gave often and to those who needed it even though he didn’t have much to give.
- How a man is supposed to make a woman feel. Dating has not been an easy experience for me. My dad is partially to blame. He set the bar very high for how I am supposed to be treated. But not only me. You see my dad loved women and was actually a bit of a flirt. Not the disrespectful trying to hit on women in front of my daughter even though I’m married kind of flirt. He simply could not talk to a woman without saying something to make her smile. I’m sure he made every woman he encountered feel beautiful, safe, and special. That is the way a man is supposed to make a women feel. That is how my future Mr. Joy Chaser will make me feel.
- Sometimes you have to distance yourself from family. I love my family and my dad did too. Growing up he would tell me how important it was to him that my brothers and I stay close. He even made and effort to become close with my mom’s side of the family that did not have the same closeness as his side of the family. But one day he started a very serious conversation with me about the direction my life was taking in comparison to others in my family. He took the time to explain that there could be a day in the future where I might not be able to be close to family members because of the differences in our life choices. If their life choices imposed on me in a way that negatively impacted me or my future family (husband/ childeren) that it would be good for me to make the choice to create some distance. This is easier said than done. But it is much easier for me to make myself and future bundle of joy a priority knowing I have his blessing.
- How not to be a guilt ridden Christian. My dad was a Christian, a Seventh Day Adventist actually. He is the one who took me to church as a little kid. However, my dad was fun. He danced and drank and had a good time. One day my dad was talking about someone making poor decisions because they were trying to resolve their own feelings of guilt. My dad explained that If you call yourself a Christian than you are saying you believe Jesus died for your sins. If you believe Jesus died for your sins than there is no need to beat yourself up over them or make poor decisions to try and fix the sins. Jesus has already fixed and forgiven them. My dad said what we have to do is ask for forgiveness and try to do better. He went on to say that if we wallow in guilt then we are even being hypocritical. If we truly believe Jesus forgave our sin then who are we to not forgive ourselves. Now I admit I still strugle with feelings of guilt (thank you very much Church school), but remembering what my dad said has helped me to move forward more quickly and learn to forgive myself.