Sunday, June 18, 2006

Spreading some Father's Day Love

Of all the observation holidays (Valentine's, Mothers Day, etc.), Father's Day has always been one of my favorites. At this point in the year, the sun is shining, vacations are abundant, school years are coming to a close, and people are graduating from school and transitioning into their future plans. What a perfect backdrop to officially honor the men in our lives responsible for raising us into the people we are today. Yes, today is Father's Day, a day where I have an excuse to love on my dad and let the world know how much I honor, appreciate, and am indebted to my father.

When it comes to parents, I lucked out. This is especially true when it comes to my Dad. One thing I love about my father is that he made the choice to be a FATHER and not a baby's daddy. You see, before my mother and father met, my Dad led a turbulent life. Drug addiction, alcohol abuse, a failed marriage and custody battle, and a penchant for violent behavior ruled my father's life. When my mother came into the picture and they became comfortable, she gave him an ultimatum...change your ways and commit to me, or take a walk. My Dad dropped ALL of his destructive ways to be with my mom and build a family.

Not only did he take on the task of being a honorable husband, he also filled the shoes of fatherhood for my brother, Darnell. Darnell was born during my mother's first marriage. She was left high and dry by Darnell's father when he found out she was pregnant. Darnell was 5 years old when my mom and dad became an item, and he gave my Dad HELL. This lil' boy was filled with so much hurt and anger from being abandoned that he took all of it out on my Dad. And how did my Dad handle my brother's abuse? Like a man! He refused to take any shit off a little boy and did his best to be a father figure to Darnell. Of course Darnell wasn't having it and acted accordingly, but my Dad didn't care. He made a commitment, and stuck to it. Throughout the years the relationship between Darnell and Dad has been rocky, but recently they have reconciled. Darnell is now married to a woman who had a young son when they met, so he now understands how much hell it is to raise somebody else's kid. Isn't karma a bitch? So yeah, they are on good terms now. Instead of blaming my Dad for his issues, Darnell now thanks him for doing what was damn near impossible...raising a young man mad at the world and looking for a victim. Gangster, i tell you. Pure gangster.

Now when it came to raising us, this man deserves the Medal of Honor. Shortly after giving birth to me (the last child), my mother decided that she was DONE with being a stay at home mom. So, when I was all of 3 months old, my brother Shaun just shy of 1 year old, and my next brother in age (Darren) was 6 years old, my mom went back to work full time and left the child rearing up to Pops. From the crack of dawn until 4pm, my father was Mr. Mom with 2 infants and a kindergartner. He did what most guys his age and generation would have run like hell from....he sucked it up, man-ed up, and raised the hell out of us. We'd be traveling on the bus every day, 2 babies in a double stroller, baby bag, and all. He would cook us breakfast and lunch every day until we started going to school. I remember hitting up parks, going to visit his crazy ass friends in the "Jungle" projects of Los Angeles, and making trips to the beach and other cool places as a youngster with my Dad.

When I was enrolled in a Christian pre-school and was suspected of giving all the other (white) kids head lice, my dad was the one who said "AWW HELL TO THE NAW" and paid his own money to place me in the newly formed Head Start Program at our local elementary school.

When Darren began having problems at school with bullies and Darnell started rollin with the local gang members, my dad spearheaded the decision to get our family the hell out of the Crenshaw District of L.A. and into to a much nicer and safer community.

In many ways, my dad has served a very untraditional role in my life. Although he is very much a man's man and a provider, he has always been a nurturer. Whenever I would fall and bust my head, felt scared, or got into a fight, Dad was the first person I'd call for. If I needed advice or a stiff kick in the ass, my dad was more than willing to give it. Much of the emotional health and maturity I have now is due to my father's example. My father always told us, his sons, to never be afraid to show our emotions. I've seen my dad enraged, upset, sad, depressed, in mourning, happy, afraid, excited, and not once has he ever apologized for any open expression of those feelings. I don't know of many other guys that have seen their dad cry his eyes out and still believe that he is the biggest man in the world. That's how I feel about my Dad.

Although all of my brothers and sister have a solid relationship with my father, my Dad and I share a very strong bond. With him, I can talk freely about anything without fear of reprimand or judging (well, as long as I don't disrespect him...then I'd risk an ass-whoopin :)). He's always been my #1 fan, with mom following behind in a very close second. My dad was never gifted in the academic sense, but he never was intimidated or put off by my academic excellence. In fact, he has supported me 100% in all of my endeavors. All I've had to do was tell him i was serious about doing something, and he was there every step of the way. Sure, he was probably trying to live vicariously through me, but i didn't care. It was (and still is) an honor to know that I am making my father proud.

Oh man, I could go on and on about how much my Dad has reflected my life, but I'll keep it somewhat short. My dad is by no means perfect (and in some ways is a HOT ASS MESS), but I couldn't imagine having a better father. I praise God every chance I get for blessing me with a mother and father dedicated to the success of their children. My father and I still have one big issue to discuss (my sexuality), but I am confident that I will not lose him over it. In many ways, I feel he already knows and is just waiting for me to talk to him about it. In any case, i'm faithful that our relationship will remain intact and I will still honor him as much as I do now.

To my Dad, Mr. Mack Quinn Hopkins, Jr......





TheBlacks said...

How did I miss this post?

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