Posts Tagged With: daddy

My Hall of Fame Speech (if I had a chance…)

The NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony last Saturday night was a lot of things. Emotional. Heartful. Inspiring. It was also a bit of a blow to fatherhood. In the 6 hours worth of speeches from the inductees – okay, the speeches weren’t quite that long – Mama and Grandmama got the lion’s share of the praise from a good number of the players, Richard Dent and Marshall Faulk being the exceptions, and furthering the cause for women who wish themselves Happy Father’s Day every June. While it’s not the first time that any of us have heard an athlete say that his main goal in being successful was to buy Mama a house/a car/some jewelry/a rocket ship, it did solidify the fact that Mama trumps Daddy in the battle at home almost always. Like Chris Rock said, all the good songs are written about Mama – Tupac’s “Dear Mama”, Boyz II Men’s “A Song for Mama”, and “Sadie” by the Spinners (to their credit there was a Daddy reference in there) – while all Dad gets from the songwriters is “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”. It’s an all too real reminder of the state of fatherhood in “The Community” and illustrates why some people say that there are no more real fathers out there.

I offer this as an antithesis to that argument.

I am a thirtysomething year old man pushing perilously close to that dreaded “F” word that comes after thirty-nine though my boyish good looks would lead you to believe otherwise (shameless self love). Most men my age go through life at this stage without much fanfare; I have a few friends with sons, daughters, wives or girlfriends that think they hung the moon but for the most part guys have grown accustomed to going without much credit or pats on the back or even attention. It’s just the way with guys that aren’t singers, actors or comedians; you do something cool, and you keep it moving. I was presented with an opportunity to speak in front of my church a couple of weeks back, a simple task really, I was asked to put together a brief memorial tribute on behalf of the music department. I’d be on the microphone for 45 to 60 seconds tops. Outside of a few presentations at work I hadn’t done much public speaking so I figured this a prime opportunity to get up in front of people and justify all that tuition money Mom and Dad spent on me as a Communications major. Get up, speak eloquently, and sit down. It was a simple mission, one of those aforementioned things that guys my age do, don’t expect anything from, and usually forget about within a few months. Not important at all in the grand scheme of things except for the fact that my Dad showed up.

I didn’t know he was there, didn’t see him from the podium as I stood to speak and looked out over 2500 or so people, perhaps if I would have if I didn’t get a bit of the jitters and look down at my script a little more than look out at the people I was addressing. I was up there a little longer than I thought that I would be, about 90 seconds, but I made it through okay. Ol’ Dr. Fulmer back on the campus of Georgia Southern (Go Eagles!) would have been a little peeved at my lack of eye contact but I think a “B+” would have been in order. After Church, I reached in my pocket and turned my cell phone back on and there was a voicemail message from my Dad in his usual baritone.

“Hey, Man! This is Dad. Came to see you speak at church today. You did great. Tried to wait for you to come out but I didn’t see you. Maybe I’ll see you at the house a little later on. Talk to you later.”

The tiny speech was nothing to me. A little over a minute addressing the congregation, half of which were probably flipping through or doodling in their programs, a chance for me to utilize some public speaking skills in front of a decent sized gathering. But to Dad, it was more than that. It was just like every soccer or football game that I played in that he attended, just like every little thing in college that he drove 3 hours at the drop of a hat for to see me in, it was just Dad supporting his kid, his thirtysomething almost “F-word” kid doing something that wasn’t a big deal to me but was obviously big enough for him to get up, skip his own church to come to mine to see me speak for 90 measly seconds…just because I’m his kid. That’s it.

I’d like to be a Dad, I really want to be a Dad actually, but I think sometimes I’m afraid to because there’s no way I can be the father that my Dad is. To be so selfless and have the ability to think that every moment, no matter how immaterial I might think it is, is important. There’s something regal in that, something that is insanely incredible about how much love it takes to think that everything is significant…and while I can’t really fathom it, I’m glad that I have a Dad that can.

It’s unlikely that I’ll ever make the Hall of Fame in anything, maybe a bestseller list one day, but I don’t know that I’ll ever have the opportunity to openly buck the trend and thank my Pop openly in front of millions on TV, but I’ll take solace that the 100 or so that may trip over this page will know that there’s one Dad in our Community who is a great man. If you’ve got one too, call him and tell him so, he may have turned off the radio in disgust because “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” was on. 🙂

~thanks for reading

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Categories: Decatur Stories, Family, Relationships, Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Waffle Induced Worry – Driving with Dad

Hey all! If you’ve been here to the South then you know a couple of things. You know that our winters are short and our summers are humid.  You know that the mosquito is the regional bird of the south. And you also know that there is a Waffle House every 3.5 miles on whatever street you might be traversing at the time. Waffle House is like Coca Cola in the south, it’s a freakin’ institution. Everyone in this area of the world can tell you exactly how they like their hash browns, I prefer scattered, covered, and topped, and even if you don’t like the place everyone has a late night Waffle House story because after hours it’s pretty much the only place open; those bright letters looking like hovering yellow Scrabble tiles bidding you welcome after a late night salsa party or wild night out with friends. Most everyone loves the Waffle House in one way or another, my Dad does, or he did, until they started construction on one less than a mile from my parents’ house. Now he’s not so sure.

If you’ve frequented this blog for a while you know that my Dad worries; in fact, it’s almost like he likes to worry. It’s his own little adrenaline rush of sorts; it gets his blood pumping to fret over something. He can be in the midst of a normal conversation about something normal and then – Boom! – there’s something to worry about! Like the Waffle House.

I had to run Dad across town last week to go get his car from the mechanic. I hadn’t talked to Dad in a couple of days so the 20 minutes in the car would give us boys a chance to chat it up in the car with some light conversation over his favorite jazz station on the radio. Our ride was going great until we passed the brand new still not opened for business Waffle House on the corner of Memorial and Candler Roads in dear ol’ Decatur, GA. I, for one, am excited about the new Waffle House as it is going to be closer than the one that I used to have to frequent on the off chance I had to make a hash brown run so I thought that I could start a little small talk about liking the idea of having a new Waffle House nearby. Bad idea.

Me: The new Waffle House should be open soon, Dad. They’ve already paved the parking lot and finished the inside.

Dad: It’ll be closed in a week.

Me: What? Why do you say that?

Dad: A Waffle House? Here? On this corner? Where do you think knuckleheads will go late at night when they want something to eat? Someone will be shot in a week.

Me: Dad, really? This isn’t a bad neighborhood.

Dad: You’re right, but bad people have cars and hooligans get hungry and Waffle House doesn’t close.

Me: So you think that someone is gonna get shot in a week over a waffle.

Dad: I’m not saying someone is going to get shot over a waffle. I am saying someone will probably get shot while eating one though!

Me: Dad, really?

Dad: They should have opened a mini police precinct in the parking lot.

Me: But Dad, all the other Waffle Houses are open 24 hours too. There haven’t been any shootings there.

Dad: Maybe, but this one is new, you know how people like to mess up new stuff.

Me: So you’re saying that I shouldn’t go there on the off chance I want late night food?

Dad: Nope…I’m just saying you should get it “to-go”.

And it went on and on like this in the car about all the people that would be maimed whilst eating waffles and hash browns and orange juice at the brand new Waffle House up the street. How the kids from the teen club around the way would swarm on the place after they finished staying out long after any teenager should be out in the first place. And, oh, goodness what about Friday nights after the high school football games when people are just hanging out, they don’t want waffles, they’re just in the parking lot with their loud music looking for trouble. And never mind me telling him that I used to do the same thing when I was a teenager after high school football games and it never amounted to anything more than me sitting on the hood of my car with my radio up too loud with my friends because, for goodness sake, all he said in response was that’s because I had parents that raised me right and taught me about consequences so I knew better than to fight with someone over something stupid much less shoot at somebody. And he’s not saying that the streets are full of orphans without parents but that the parents today aren’t as strict with their kids and that’s why they are running the streets putting bullet holes in waffles at 2:30am when they should be at home in the bed and even more than that what about the…

“DADDY! We’re here…”

I made the right turn into the mechanic’s establishment in Hapeville, GA and there sat Dad’s car in the parking lot to the right. He looked over to it and smiled knocked out of his Waffle Induced Violence Diatribe by the thought of a new transmission in his beloved Ford. I put my car in park and asked him if he needed me to stick around for a minute and he waved me away saying that he just needed to pay the mechanic and then he’d be gone. Then he grabbed his walking stick and started his cool stroll across the parking lot around the corner and out of sight. I sat in the car for a minute still dazed and processing all that was prophesied to happen within the first week at the new Waffle House just a mile from my parents’ home and came to the rapid conclusion that I’d better dine there within that first week or end up being a victim in a hail of bullets over hash browns covered in cheese and chili.

~thanks for reading 🙂

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Categories: Atlanta, Decatur Stories, Family, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Art of Worry

Most people that know me know that my greatest hero is my Dad. We look alike, we sound about the same, have the same mannerisms, we both love naptime in front of the TV in our favorite chair…heck, we were even born on the same day: 32 years and roughly 90 minutes apart. Dad is the perfect example of what a good dude is, always there for my Mother and my older Sisters, was my first soccer coach and my first real buddy. My dad is everything a role model should and ought be. But there is this one thing…

Earlier this morning I was reading a blog here called The Hubby Diaries, a hilarious blog illustrating the ins and outs of a marriage between a very funny woman and what appears to be a very interesting man who skews a bit towards pessimism. Visit her and read it if you get a chance. Anyway, upon reading her blog it reminded me of the one thing that I don’t wish to inherit from my dear old Dad.

My Dad worries. And when I say that he worries I’m not talking about the average everyday “Oh crap, it looks like rain and I don’t think I have my umbrella” type worry but full on “The world is going to swallow us all whole and there’s nothing that anybody can do about it” type worry. Basically my Dad tends to think that every bad thing in the world that can happen will happen directly to him and if not to him to every person that he has ever loved. Now I know that this is innocent; Dad has always loved us very, very hard and, yes, even to the point of worry but as my father has gotten older his ability to worry has reached gargantuan levels.

And it’s all CNN’s fault.

My father has approximately 297,413 channels (okay, I’m exaggerating, but he has a lot) on his sparkling HDTV that we bought him for Father’s Day a few years back. Channels featuring sports (which he loves, I got my love of sports from my Dad), channels featuring Westerns (Dad loves cowboy movies), channels featuring comedy (Dad has an infectious laugh just like me) but of all the channels he always finds his way back to CNN where Anderson Cooper and the rest of the gang give him ample reason to worry about any and everything. Case in point…

The other day I get home and the landscaper guy is working on my lawn (God bless his heart because my yard is a train wreck). He is the same guy who does my parents yard at their house and a family friend, a bit kooky but decent with lawn equipment and a good guy all the same. We exchange the usual pleasantries and then he starts in with:

Him: Your father told me to cut all these trees and bushes down.
Me: What?
Him: Yeah, he wanted me to cut all of these bushes down completely.
Me: Why?
Him: He didn’t say.
Me: Hold off on that, I’ll call him.
So I call dear old Dad on the mobile phone and he answers on the third or fourth ring, with CNN in the background of course. The usual pleasantries exchanged and then I needed to get to the crux of the issue of why he needed to have bushes and trees in another person’s yard eliminated.

Me: The yard guy said you told him to cut down all the bushes in the yard
Him: Yep.
Me: Care to share why?
Him: Not safe to have them there.
Me: Care to share why?

Turns out there was a report about a Mexican gang in Maryland (I’m in Atlanta by the way) who’s initiation was to shoot and kill a Black woman (I’m a Black man by the way) in order to gain entry to the gang. Furthermore those bushes provided the perfect hiding place for anyone willing to do me harm when I come home from work.

My father is not insane, though my mother might occasionally tell me otherwise. He is in his right mind and thought this all the way through. No vegetation at all in the yard is the only way to keep me safe from evildoers. God bless his frightened little heart. We compromised and I told him if it made him feel better I would cut the bushes down a foot or two, but I wasn’t going to go Sahara in the back yard in fear of roving Mexican gangs in Maryland. He tried to pull rank but I managed to stave him off.

When I look in the mirror in the mornings, I see my Dad, when I talk I can hear his voice, when I play pickup soccer games in the park I can still hear him yelling from the sidelines that I’m not aggressive enough, we’re that connected and as I get older I become more and more like him, I guess it’s that whole born on the same day thing. But the day I start to worry at Dad levels is the day I have to say enough is enough. Just as a precaution though, I’m going call Comcast and see if they can delete CNN from my cable package.

~thanks for reading 🙂

Categories: Family, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

As For Right Now

“Fathers, be good to your daughters, daughters will love like you do,
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers, so mothers be good to your daughters too…”
-John Mayer

I recently got asked to help assist with the camp at my church for the summer and of course I accepted, hell, aside from writing I don’t have anything else to do with my summer. It was something that I did back in 2007 and really enjoyed as it helped me to tap into my inner child and get a first hand look at what makes pre-teens tick…sure they’re crazy and have no idea what they are to become at that age but they are, indeed, interesting. I was reading up on some information about the camp in preparation for it to begin in a few weeks and remembered one of my favorite campers named Alexis.

Like most people I had a burning desire to reach the end of the day, I think that it’s safe to say that most of us start to watch the clock intently when we’re about an hour away from getting off work and sliding down that dinosaur tail a la Fred Flintstone and getting in our cars and going home. My last duty every day at the camp was to make sure that the kids were properly signed out by the parents/guardians and make it safely out door. Most of the parents I’ve known for years from Church on Sunday, others I had only recently met and got the pleasure of getting to know during our 2-3 minute conversations waiting on their kids to come out, and still others I only traded gracious smiles with as they signed next to the appropriate “X” and continued their cell phone conversations. At the end of my final 2.5 hours stationed at the front door of the center I’d have seen every parent of the 200 or so campers at the center that day; usually the kids will have come to the front bleary eyed from a nap they were taking in the dark of the movie room, there is inevitably a 7 or 8 year old that wanted to tell their mother or father every single facet of the day before they even said hello, the eventual pre teen will be picked up and start to complain to their mother about the sandwich they had at lunch, and of course anytime one of the 4 or 5 year olds get called I always look forward to them smiling and waving at me and saying, “Bye, Mr. Skrap! See you tomorrow!” but of course that’s dependent on whether or not I had to fuss at that particular camper that day. And while I enjoyed watching all of the kids come out and greet each of their parents in their own way they all paled in comparison to Alexis.

Alexis was 4 at the time and she was a typical 4 year old girl. Excitable, energetic, and always smiling; when she ran her ponytails would trail behind her as if in effort to struggle and stay attached to her head. Usually before she appeared from around the corner and into sight of the reception area her running footsteps can be heard echoing down the walkway. Whatever her class made in Arts and Crafts that day was usually clutched in one hand while her half zipped book bag was always nearly spilling academic work behind her; for the entirety of camp that summer I don’t think she ever zipped that thing all the way closed. While all of this was cute in and of itself there’s nothing I loved more every day than the unequaled joy that enveloped her face when she caught a glimpse of her waiting father. Her run got faster, her face got brighter, and her squeal got louder the closer she got to his waiting arms. From the entrance to the reception area to her father’s usual waiting space near the front door was roughly 30 feet, she manages to stay on the ground for 25 or so of those feet, the last five were usually covered through the air as she made it a practice to drop her bookbag and leap into his arms.

More special to me than Alexis’ reaction is the return reaction from her father, he was never in any hurry to pick up the book bag or the papers that may have spilled out onto the floor, he didn’t worry about the ponytail that went awry and popped him in the eye he she landed in his grasp, there was no real concern that she’s run most of the way with one, or both, shoes untied. As enamored as she was with his presence so was he with her, lost in a daily hug so tight that it resembled a playful attempt to strangle, lost in the repeated call “Daddyyyyyyyy!! Daddyyyyyyy!! in between her girly little giggles. He never immediately said anything back to her, he just always appeared lost in her love for him.

I don’t yet have children, God hasn’t chosen to bless me with them or the vessel by which to carry one, but somehow I think that I know why he appears as lost in the moment as he does, why he greeted his baby girl with the same fervor as one who is seeing a loved one for the first time in a million days. I wondered perhaps if he was fast forwarding to a time when she won’t be as thrilled to see him, perhaps to a day when she was older and teenage indifference started to settle in. He may very well have seen a day in his mind’s eye when he will enter a room and she will offer only a halfhearted “hey dad…” without taking off the earphones to her iPod or pausing from typing a text message to whatever little knucklehead has her attention. He may have even pondered while in the midst of that hug of a day when a really attentive knucklehead has done enough for her to give away the last name of her father and then have a new primary hugging partner for a lifetime. Perhaps all of these reasons and maybe a few more is why he greeted her like he did everyday. But for right now no worries…she’s 4, has pigtails, and was in love with her father. To Alexis, the guy whose neck she was so tightly wrapped around was the only thing in her world that mattered. Her inspiration to throw caution (and pre-K paperwork) to the wind and dodge and dash through the tree like adults in the entranceway. He was the best thing in the world and she was more than happy just to be Daddy’s baby girl.

After a while her father pryed her off his neck and pick up the splayed book bag and tossed it on his own shoulder before picking her back up and waving to me as he walked out of the door. By the time the automatic door closed she was plastered closely to him still giggling, face still bright with the joy only her father brought. She will grow up, she won’t always think her Daddy is the greatest, but what I learned through watching that every afternoon is that all we can concern ourselves with is the here and now, there’s no benefit in worrying about what can or might be, rather, lose yourselves in the joys that currently are. Alexis and her Daddy did…I think of the two of them often and thank them for that every day.

                                                      ~thanks for reading 🙂

Categories: Attempts at Seriousness | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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