Anything For My Daddy!!
My daddy’s Father’s Day came a day early.
Yesterday I surprised the number one man in my life with a gift he’d been plotting and waiting for.
Lord help the man who wants to be with me because my father is a tough example to follow.
My father has been the definition of “man” from the start. He was the oldest of 5, born in Haiti and arrived here at about 8 years old. Only a few years before I was to be conceived he was a 19-year-old Erasmus Hall graduate working as a messenger for an advertising agency. After working hard for a few years he got promoted to mail clerk making $150 a week, by this time he was dating my Norman Thomas graduate mother. They soon married and in 1981 I arrived. Still making $150 a week he took care of me, his wife and himself. According to everyone I was spoiled from the start. I left the hospital in Dior (a trend to be repeated when my middle sister Kaitlyn, not his daughter, was born as a gift to my mother) and lived a newborn life filled with a silver Tiffany spoon and the best clothes and toys. He loved his little girl. By the time the marriage started to get rocky, my father, with no college degree, had worked his way up the ranks in the same advertising agency to analyst. When my parents divorced when I was about 4 because my mother didn’t want to be a wife and mother anymore, he granted her wish for a divorce and did what most men don’t….he demanded that she leave me with him. He didn’t ask for anything but me. She didn’t have to pay alimony nor child support, he didn’t even go through visitation agreements, she was free to see me when she wanted. He was my father and she could do what she wanted, he was taking care of me with or without her help. From then on my daddy and I were a duo. He got me dressed in the morning, braided my hair and drove me to school. We slept in the same bed while we bunked with my aunt and uncle on Lenox Road in Brooklyn and did everything together. When he met my stepmother and we moved to Ocean Parkway our routine stayed the same. My father, now working full-time at the advertising agency and part-time selling mens shoes in A&S department store, still braided my hair, walked me to the bus stop every morning, took me to the park, vacations, ballets, daddy/daughter dates….you name it.
Years later when the marriage between my father and my bougie step mother fell apart and my 34B boobs had fully dropped in; he did what he felt best. He sent me to live with my mother to learn “woman things”. My mother now living in Queens with a new man (Kaitlyn’s father) still got the easy end of the stick. She still had to do nothing. My father paid for the bus that took me from Queens to BK everyday to go to my gifted school in Bushwick at $50 a week. He paid for my uniform, all school trips, all salon visits, all seasonal clothing, allowance (which I must say was generous…how many Jr. High kids you know getting $40 a week!), yearly vacations to Atlanta to see my uncle Roland (R.I.P.), glasses, daddy/daughter dates, violin lessons, dance lessons, language lessons, toys, Tiffany heart bracelets, Gucci loafers (my father is a big believer in “good shoes”), my first of many Coach bags in the 7th grade, baby shower gifts for my mother and even sent me to London to stay with my great-aunt because my mother couldn’t handle being pregnant and raising me at the same time. Even when my mother’s relationship with her man of the moment fell apart and she moved my sister and I back to BK to stay with my grandmother, he still never asked her for anything. He actually gave more.
Still working the same two jobs, my father made sure his now high school aged daughter had everything. I had every designer label you could think of that was popular at the time; Polo, Tommy, Coogi, Iceberg, Coach, Gucci, more Tiffany’s, EVERY pair of Jordans and Air Max 95 (A sneaker trend I have kept up), etc. I still went all over the world, still went to ballets, operas and on dates with my daddy. He still paid for everything. Now don’t get it twisted, it all came with lessons. I learned to budget money in elementary and knew about credit card interest rates in 9th grade. I may have had all the material things, but I was also given the necessary life lessons as well. When I turned 14 and was eligible for working papers, my father made sure I had a job, the first of 4 before I ever left high school. Even though he still bought everything, I started going half on the really expensive stuff like my $500 North Face jackets and kept a secret stash in my room for emergencies. I was spoiled, but prepared for hard work and the “money doesn’t grow on trees” lesson that some people didn’t learn until college when they racked up thousands in credit card debt. An issue I never had because my father made sure I knew better.
He also made sure I saw how real men were supposed to treat women. My father treated my mother the best she has ever been treated in life….and I’m not just saying that because he’s my dad. Every man since him has treated her like shit. My father made sure she had a gift and card every Mother’s Day as a thank you. She got her first pair of Pumas and her first Coach bag (which she only got because she was jealous that she was grown without designer bags and I had several. We got into a huge fight when she tried to borrow my favorite one and I said no) because my father, not one of her current men, bought it for her. When her birthday, which is the day after his (they are 3 years apart), came, she got birthday calls and gifts. Kaitlyn got gifts every birthday and Christmas because he thought it was unfair to come over with gifts for me and nothing for her (especially since her dad, another of my mother’s poor choices, was incognegro). Even when my mother acted the complete fool yelling and cursing at him, he never, not ONCE, raised his voice or called her out of her name. He always spoke to her in an even toned voice (the same one I give that annoys her now). Even when he called her once to ask if she could spot me my allowance one week and he would give it back and she said to him “Hell no. You started that allowance shit, now you keep it up,” he remained calm, and I told him not to worry about it because I had saved money from the week before. Even when she stole part of my Sweet Sixteen money under the guise of keeping me from spending it and claimed she would use it to open a bank account for me, he remained calm. When I tried to throw dirt on her, he always corrected me and reminded me that she was still my mother and when I said why can’t she help out some, he said because that’s how he wanted it. He said he was my father and that’s what father’s do.
When college time rolled around once again it was all on him. He paid for every application and bought EVERY single thing I brought with me to my eventual choice, Howard, on move in day. One of those things came on Christmas day 1998 when he bought me a brand new $1200 Toshiba laptop computer to take with me to school the next fall. All my mother did, was come for the ride. He paid every tuition bill. He gave me credit cards to buy my books, paid for me to come home on weekends and holidays, spring breaks, clothes, food, hair, storage during the summer…everything. I started working my sophomore year and paid for most of my daily needs, but he still wanted to pay. He never missed a payment and even allowed my mother to collect the education credit on her taxes without complaint or asking for a single dime. And in true fashion he remained calm when she acted the fool. When she tried to get me to basically steal $500 from my father when I had to take extra credits my senior year and I snitched on her….he blew it off. When on Thanksgiving Day our entire family found out she was trying to steal most of my $4k scholarship check (she cursed me out for telling her business) and she reluctantly agreed to give him 2k to pay my 3k tuition balance because she “had bills to pay” with the rest….he paid her no mind. He made it happen. He borrowed money from his 401k to make sure that I walked on time and on May 9th & 10th 2003 when I walked across that stage, when I walked off, I put the degree in his hand just like I did with my high school diploma. He earned it. He deserved it.
So when my father, who has never had a new computer in his life (he always buys refurbished) started college this month and had ramped up his requests to take donations for his plan to buy a refurbished MAC (it’s his dream computer, he’s wanted one for years), I knew what I had to do. I did what he’s done for me since day one. I sacrificed and went on a crazy budget to save the over $2k it cost to buy him a brand new Macbook Pro. I tricked him into coming up to my apartment by telling him I needed help fixing my coffee table and when he walked through the door I shouted HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! and snapped a pic of his priceless face. He screamed, yelled “For me? For me” and danced around for 10 whole minutes…..it was hilarious! As we sat on the couch he told me how just the night before he was “cursing” his computer (my father doesn’t curse lol) because his latest refurbished purchase had overheated and shut off on him in the middle of a homework assignment he hadn’t yet saved. He looked at me and told me it was “The best Father’s Day gift ever” and then banned me from even touching the box. I told him it was brand new and then it clicked. He realized that he never had a new computer and was even more excited because his dream computer would be his very first one. I told my giddy daddy that it was my pleasure. That even though my dream would have been to pay his tuition, this was the next best thing because when I went to college, he bought me a brand new computer…..so I bought him a brand new one so that he could go to college. He had forgotten about that Toshiba, it was just something else on the list of things that fathers do. He gave me the biggest hug I think I ever got and then proceeded to dance around some more making plans to call his brother and brag about his new toy, lol. Even as we drove through the streets of Harlem on the way to BJs, he yelled “Apple!” out of the window a few times and screamed with joy as we passed the computer aisle of the BJs when he realized he wouldn’t have to browse the and dream of a new computer anymore.
You have no idea how satisfied I was. It was the best and most rewarding money I have every spent. To give back to someone who gave everything for me. To return the favor and make his day was the greatest reward. The look on his face reminded just how blessed I am. So many people aren’t close to their fathers and a lot more don’t even know who their father is. I’m fortunate to have both. I am who I am because he worked hard and allowed me to grow and stand on his back. I am who I am because he was there to teach me the lessons. To show me that I was more than someone’s side piece or mattress and that I deserve respect. I am who I am because he showed me the world he never got to live in and told me I could do and be anything. Because he encouraged me to take risks. I am who I am because his blood runs through my veins. I am who I am because he loved me…..because he sacrificed for me. So today on Father’s Day, I wish my father and all Father’s like him a happy and blessed Father’s Day. I say thank you for being fathers, thank you for being daddies….thank you for being men.
Lord help the man who wants to be with me because my father is a tough example to follow.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!