The Pier

Posted: January 26, 2009 in Life Lessons

 pier

I cringe whenever I read, listen to or observe stereotypes about the black man of today’s society. You know what is said:  We are uneducated, at risk, prone to violence and are generally a threat to the community. It is said that if we make it to 21 without being shot, arrested or strung out on drugs, we are a rare breed.  It bothers me to the fullest extent simply because it’s not true. Yes, there are many brothas who fall victim to some of these things and fit the stereotype to a tee. But, we are so much more than what we are characterized by many to be.

In particular, one stereotype that always bugs me is the constant bashing of the black father, or lack thereof.  It always seems, whether in magazines, documentaries, message boards, etc. that black fathers are always being bashed for “not being there” or “not taking care of their responsibilities at home.” For years, black men have been chastised for making babies and leaving the mother to raise the child. As a result, many children, particularly young boys, never have a male figure in their lives growing up to teach them how to be men.

By no means am I trying to suggest that this does not happen, because it does. Where my problems lies is that there’s no other side to the story being told. For every dead beat brother, there are millions of black men who are strong family men and who take care of the children they bring into this world.

Fortunately for me, I was blessed to have male figures in my life growing up. My dad, grandfather and uncles were all intricate players in my development and helped shape me into the may I am now and continue inspire to be. The way I think, react and approach different life situations are all a direct result of what I saw my dad do and/or what he taught me. In many cases, I have to stop and laugh, because the things I thought were so stupid are the very things I’m emulating as I get older.

I will forever be grateful for the type of example my dad set before me. He talked the talked and walked the walk. But the reality is that he was a busy man. Between family, his medical practice and his work at the church stretched him thin a lot. Because of that,  I chose to keep some of my questions I had within, so as not to “bother” him. Now, this is not to say that I would have bothered him, I just know how much he had on his plate at certain times. Despite that, I hung on to his every word, whether I wanted to hear it or not.

As I’ve gotten older and moved away from home, the life lessons my dad and other men warned my about have certainly come to fruition.

But this past Christmas, the damnedest thing happened.

Quick side note: my dad broke his ankle fishing and was confined to w wheelchair during his rehab.

But again, the damnedest thing happened. We all went to Myrtle Beach for Christmas and there was a pier not too far from our timeshare. As soon as I arrived Tuesday night, all I heard my dad say was that he wanted to go to the pier. So Christmas Day, after the storm of everyone opening gifts had passed, my dad and I took the short trip over to the trip.

We sat and talked

About everything.

Life, money, relationships, faith and family.

It was, in my 26 years, one of the most gratifying conversations I’d ever had with my dad. And in that Christmas season, the best gift I received.

We talked about the value of a dollar. We talked about how important it is to find “that one” and treat her with respect and love.

I left the pier that day with a renewed sense of perspective on how to deal with some of the problems that life was presented to me. I left with a renewed confidence of how much support I had from my family to succeed.

I left after an hour at the pier — having met my dad for the first time.

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