Friday, June 18, 2010

A Father's Love

Robert Wadley was born June 20, 1926 and passed away February 26, 1996. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about my father and his influence on my life and helping me become the man I am. My love for my father is something of which I am very proud. My father IS my HERO. No he did not wear a cape and leap tall buildings in a single bound nor did he stop crime on the streets of Chicago. However, he taught me integrity, pride, the importance of education, etc. My earliest memory of my Dad and me is seeing him standing in the mirror with his face all lathered. Ocassionally he would take some lather and put it on my face giving me a razor (you know the old one that you put double edge blades in) without a razor blade. I would memic his motions and we would shave together. I could not have been more than 6 years old. My mother passed away at the age of 29 after 12 years of marriage to my Dad. My mother and father had five children together. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been for my father to lose the love of his life and try to keep his family together for now he had to raise 5 children ranging in age from 12 – 2 (three girls and two boys). I must admit that I was the favorite child and think that was in part to me being only 2 years old when my mother passed away. The family nucleus was different back then for my maternal grandmother and paternal aunts rallied around my father to assist when they could to make it easier for my Dad. However, the day-to-day responsibility was totally on my father (combing hair, ironing and laying out clothes for school, cooking dinner, giving everyone a bath as well as working an 8-10 hour day). I cannot even imagine the difficulty and sacrifice that my father made for the five of us. I also owe a debt of gratitude to my grandparents for they raised him to be the man he became. I am told that he never once thought about spliting us up. After my mother’s passing I live with my maternal grandmother Sunday – Friday evening because I was not old enough to attend school for four more years, thereby only seeing my father and siblings on weekends. My father ruled with a stern and strong but loving hand. Everything he did (whooping, family meetings, etc) were done because he loved us and wanted to ensure we did not go in the wrong directon.

I can remember my father taking time in the evening to teach me and my brother how to drive once we received out driver’s permit. Thinking back, I remember how nervous I was when he asked me after one of my lessons if I wanted to drive home. My dad was an Impala man and at the time of my lessons, he owned a brown 1974 Impala, which seemed like the hood stretched for miles. I agreed and pulled out on to 47th street near Lake Park making my way back home about 2 miles away. I was nervous but my Dad reassured me that I could do it. I made it home as he instructed me calmly every step of the way.

My father was not perfect but I never doubted his love for my siblings and me. You see he never remarried for I do not think he ever got over my mother’s death. Let me not make it seem that he became a hermit because he did date his share of women but none made it to the marrying stage. My father let it be known to all that his children were his first priority.

In 1981, my father found out that I was SGL (gay). Believe me that did not go well at all. We went through some tough times because of this newfound discovery. However, my father never abandoned me because of it. Once we made it over the rough patch, we moved forward. I can remember the first day I told my father that I loved him and giving him a big ole hug as an adult man. I could tell that he was touched by it. I respected my father and never brought up my relationship. If he wanted to discuss this, it would be on his terms for I respected and understand where he was coming from. I did not expect him to embrace it for I am sure the acknowledgment of my emotional orientation shattered the dreams he may have had for me ever since the day I was born. We eventually got past the elephant in the room when he was ready. While he did not agree with me being in love with a man he did accept my partner and me at the time. I could not have asked for more than that, our relationship became much stronger, and we were able to openly discuss things about him and my mom of which I was not aware.

Today, I talk to male friends of mine and hear that they have lilmited or no relationships with their fathers and it is sad. I know that father’s have so much to give to our lives to help shape and mold us as adult men. I am who I am because my father molded me and while he has been gone from my life for 14 years he still infuences who I am today. The lessons he taught me many years ago and still applicable in my life. I still want him to look down from heaven and be proud of the man I have become. Each day I thank God for my father for he did not have to accept the difficult responsibility of raising five knuckle-headed kids virtually alone. Over the next few days I will talk to my siblings and we will laugh and reminiss about our father. We will celebrate his life and what he brought into our lives. We could not have asked God to give us a better father.

Everything my Dad did exuded “A Father’s Love”!!!!