Every 3rd Sunday in June, we celebrate Father’s Day. Over the past years, I have had some struggles with Father’s Day. At times, I have focused on some of the bad traits involving my father. But as I have embarked on this thing called life, I have come to focus on the good. And I have finally come to accept my dad for the good that he did and the lessons that he taught me. I know that my sense of adventure and love of travel has come directly from my father. Unfortunately, his wonderful sense of direction has eluded me. Unfortunately, I acquired my mother’s poor sense of direction.
Growing up, my father would take us on family Sunday outings in the car. He loved to drive. And whenever he would say, “let’s go for a ride”, I knew I was in for a treat. My mother, brother and I would get in the car, never knowing where we were going. Sometimes, we might end up in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and learn about the civil war. At other times, we might just drive and end up hours later at the most wonderful ice cream store. Of course, my question was always, “where are we going” or “are we there yet”. And he would never know or tell us until we arrived at a destination. We lived in the city so often a treat was driving to where we could see cows or horses. But it was always an adventure. Today I love to travel. Although my travel has been organized, I still believe my love of travel stemmed from my early years growing up in Baltimore and going for Sunday afternoon drives. I know my love of history and majoring in history in college was a direct influence of my dad on me. And although my father did not graduate from high school, he somehow knew the importance of knowing history.
One of my most important lessons from my dad and also my mother is the power and importance of voting. Although my parents often worked on election days, before there was early voting, they always voted. There was only one time that I recall that they missed voting. My dad was driving and rushing to get to the polls before they closed or speeding as the police officer would later call it. He was stopped by the police and received a speeding ticket. My parents were unable to vote that year. He talked about that mishap forever, it seemed. I understood from an early age that this thing called voting was very important. My parents would go together to vote. At times growing up, I would be allowed to accompany them. Those lessons have stayed with me for a lifetime. It is also why I feel so outspoken and compelled to protest against the conservative political forces who are trying to disenfranchise African American voters with felony convictions and disenfranchisement minorities through voter and photo ID laws.
My father worked as a laborer at Bethlehem Steel Company in Baltimore, MD. He rarely missed a day of work. He refused to let sleet, snow, rain, hail or anything except illness stop him from working. While later working in private practice of law in Baltimore, I had an occasion to visit the almost defunct steel mill. I saw firsthand the dangerous and dirty conditions in which my father probably worked. And I came to understand that my sense of hard work ethics came from my father who despite his work circumstances rarely missed time from work.
One of my last memories of my dad was as he was suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s. He was watching a TV show with Judge Joe Brown. And without even thinking, he said that I would make a good judge. At most other times, his memory was fading of people, faces and events. But somehow he never forgot that I was a lawyer.
Today I choose to honor my father by remembering all of the good that he brought in my life. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and to my dad. To my dad, I will forever be your little girl.
With love, from Deb!
Post Script: Photo to follow