Father's Day

Father's Day

One scorching hot summer day, I was riding home from the neighborhood carwash with my happy-go-lucky dad.

He was amused with my storytelling: loud, boisterous, and colorful as a only a 13-yr-old girl can be. I described our new neighbors, and how I'd made friends with their 2 daughters in the same grade as myself.

One had struck me as infintely stupid as she wasn't able to spell even basic words, and I recounted this adding that it wouldn't matter as she was pretty enough to one day marry rich if she never opened her mouth.

As I continued chirping away, I could feel the whole energy of the car change. Sitting up straighter in his seat, my darkly handsome father had become unusually solemn. Tentatively asking if something was wrong, my father responded to me "it doesn't sound like the neighbors made a very good friend."

I so clearly remember my whole body overheating with embarrassment. I don't think I had ever been truly ashamed before that moment.

Growing up in the 60's in Southern Alabama, my father attended first grade in a school reluctantly undergoing mandatory integration. The only time I'd ever seen my daddy (6'3" and all muscle) cry was when he described asking his teacher why he and his friends couldn't have textbooks like the white students. In all the years of enduring racism and persecution in the Deep South, he never learned to spell basic words.

That day when I was 13 years old, my father taught me in so few words not to judge people because of what they can do or what they look like.

It's a lesson I've never forgot, and appreciate that I learned under his forgiving ears.

My dad has been absent for my life now for more years than I care to recall, but every Father's Day I find my heart stubbornly clinging to this memory of good parenting. Wherever you are, thank-you...