Though I didn’t realize it until much later in life, I have always wanted to be like my dad. I seriously thought that my dad was the coolest, soul brother ever and frankly could do anything… you know like a superhero.
Even though I didn’t know much about my dad as a small child, I always wanted to be as cool as I thought he was or as I imagined him to be. He had that 70’s/80’s swagger that made him “bad to the bone”. Everything I experienced in my limited visits with my dad was etched into my brain and magnified by 20.
For instance, I’ve always enjoyed music, even as a young child. Call it genetics, but I remain passionate for good quality music just like the soothing jazz and R&B that my dad would play when I was a kid visiting him.
I remember my dad taking me to a party at his friend’s house in Los Angeles. My dad walked up to the upright bass in the corner and started plucking away. To this day, I have no clue if the notes were right or if it was even a song. All I know is that my dad plucked out some funky tunes on the instrument that epitomizes coolness in jazz… the upright bass.
Then after watching my dad play the piano in the church basement during one of his visits back home, I knew at that moment that I needed to take piano lessons. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick with the piano long because my classmate showed me up at a talent show.
My dad sang in a group at church, and I can still remember him walking around the house singing getting his outfit ready on Saturday night. The suits, the shirt, the tie and the matching pocket square… he was clean! So guess what I did? I sang in school choirs all the way through high school before Glee Club was really cool. I even got to wear a fancy tuxedo with a blue tie and cummerbund when performing with the Hunters Lane High School Madrigals. Not quite the swagger I saw with my dad’s group, but we were quite snazzy for a high school chorus group.
As you can see, although I didn’t grow up with my dad, I still wanted to be just like him. He was my biggest role model outside of my mom and Spiderman. Now I see my own son trying to be just like me and I love it!
Unlike Charles Barkley, I embrace the idea that I am a role model to my son and many other young men and women. I realize as a man that I have been and continue to be a role model to many young people in the absence of their fathers. This fact inspires me to continuously give back to my community, set a positive example for others and treat everyone with respect. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the qualities instilled in me by my mom, dad, step-dad, aunt and grandparents.
In addition to my dad, there were other father figures that filled in the gaps in my dad’s absence. The mentoring by men of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., coaches, church leaders, community volunteers and so many other men that gave me advice helped make a positive impact on my life. These men all showed me what it meant to be a man, father, husband and son.
Men – Are you making a difference in the lives of young people? Do you give of your time, knowledge and resources to young men in your community? Have you made the effort to show young women what to expect from a real man so they don’t lower their standards. Are you embracing the impact you can have as a role model and mentor for fatherless children?