I spent yesterday evening with one of my oldest and dearest friends. We were there to celebrate my birthday – Lord Knows and you all should know I celebrate my birthday for a minute – but we ended up celebrating something so much larger than that. Somehow the topic (after spending time catching up and reminiscing) turned to our fathers. My darling friend recently lost hers and my heart still breaks for her. Meanwhile, my own father was very ill for a long time and this girl right here was in the hospital with me every single day. Never leaving my side. sometimes she cried with me. Sometimes she laughed with me. Sometimes she brought me a snack. Sometimes she sat in silence. Sometimes she rallied her networks to come and donate blood. Sometimes even when she was not there physically, she encouraged me more than some who were. She helped me help my father to fight his fight while still keeping my sanity (although there were moments when I know I lost it completely and in those moments she helped me find my way back from that dark place). This girl has so much love for me and my family that it melts my heart. We sat there and reminisced our childhood days but focused more on the past two years which saw us both watch our fathers do what a good father should do best – fight.
You see our fathers, though both Africans, to us were never typical “African” fathers – the more I think about that statement, the more I am sure that I have NO CLUE what a “TYPICAL AFRICAN FATHER” looks like – but that’s a story for another day. They encouraged us as children to dream and believe we could be whatever we wanted to be. They supported us as their daughters despite what “tradition” said about our gender. They groomed us and instilled an inner strength in us that we never even knew existed. They taught us to face our fears and embrace courage. They taught us to speak our mind but be respectful. They taught us to never back down if the cause was noble and never to look down upon those who society had placed in a “lesser” position than ours. They taught us to never be ashamed of who we were or how we grew up. All that was given to us and we never even knew it. It is only in the past 24months that we have been able to appreciate just how much they taught us by how hard they pushed us.
Today I celebrate all the good fathers out there. They may not have been there as much when we were growing up but they were absent because they were securing our future. They may not have been as liberal as other fathers but they did that because they were protecting our future. They may not have been as popular in some of the decisions they made but they did that because they were protecting our dignity. They may not have been as understanding of our small failures but they were doing that because they were protecting our success. They may not have given us the answers we wanted to hear but they were doing that because they were protecting our ability to stand even if it meant being the only ones standing for what is right.
They taught us how to laugh. How to love. How to give. How to hold back. How to make sound decisions. How to be Beautiful – Empowered AND Visionary without compromising on who we were raised to be or what we were created to achieve. I got home after dinner last night and told my dad how good it was to see her. He smiled from the bottom of his heart. You see he still looks at her – at us – like those pig-tail, big bespectacled little girls who would sit in a corner and giggle or beg him to drive us to a party then beg him to leave once we got there. He still sees that in me and in her. But because of what he did – and what her daddy did – all those forevers ago, we are who we are today.
The challenges of life come and go. The bad days make us want to scream and give up but the investments they made give us cause to pause for a moment then go on for just one more day understanding that because they did it for us, we must do it for our children and our children’s children.
Today I celebrate Fatherhood – and every good, honest, hard working, loving, respectful, upright father. For all your sacrifice when nobody else sees it, for all the tears you were taught never to cry despite the pain, for everything you gave without a thank you or an I appreciate you. For everything you were, are and forever will be, I say THANK YOU.
Today my friend, I celebrate your Daddy and salute his journey. I stand with you and cry with you and laugh with you and pray for you. Thank you for being my friend and I will forever be grateful for the woman of virtue that he raised in you.
You are Beautiful – Empowered – Visionary
You are @BeautifulPetal_