My Daddy Is A Fatherless Son But Not His Father’s Choices

Daddy In The 70's

Daddy In The ’70s

My father only had one directive for all of us – do better than I have. But let me tell you, even with only an 8th grade education and his being an abandoned child from the racially segregated deep south of rural Louisiana, those are some big shoes to fill.

Abandoned 3 Year Old Boy

As my father tells the story of the day his mother left him with his father, you can still hear the pain. He was crying and begging her to take him with her. Holding his baby sister on her hip and pushing him back into the screen door repeatedly she said, “You have to stay. I can’t take both of you.” She moved out of state.

My grandfather was far more interested in womanizing than he was parenting. Daddy was often left by his father to fend for himself, or with women who mistreated him. He knows what it is to be hungry, forgotten, alone, and to be unloved. His father has never, in his entire life, given him anything, not one dollar. And although Daddy forgave him (not that his father asked for it) and took care of him up to his death at age 97, he still never got his attention, affection, nor approval.

Daddy decided early that he would not be to his children what his father had been to him. He decided that he didn’t have to live out his father’s choices.

Self Reliance Was Expected

My father was ultimately raised by an uncle and his wife (who couldn’t have children). They believed and taught my father that educated or not, a man  was to use what he had and be innovative about how to multiply and make the most of it. All of the men on that side of the family worked and provided for their families well. Never dependent on others, all practiced self-reliance.

My father is no different. Daddy has always worked hard and smart! He’s a military veteran – a Navy man – and naturally curious, with a photographic memory. As a result, he’s been a student of life and made the most of every place he docked and lived all around the world. A reader and a history buff, he loves the Discovery Channels, so when you experience him – especially upon learning all he’s accomplished – you’d never know that his formal education ended at the age of 12.

He knew that he had to earn and has always been more focused on what he could do then on what he couldn’t do. And he has never – even in the segregated south of the 1950s and ’60s – concerned himself about who could stop him.

His uncles taught him that a man is defined by how well he provides for his wife and children.

Side Note: Daddy was (and in many ways still is) an excellent provider to his children. And on top of that he’s never missed a game, recital, award ceremony, graduation or any of my surgeries. When I was in need he showed up!

How He Did It With Little Education

As a young man he bussed tables while going to barber school. He met and married my mother during that time. As a young barber, he rented a building which had an apartment attached; it became his barbershop. He rented chairs to other barbers, rented the apartment and used a back room as a TV repair shop, for which he became a certified technician. He started a pest control service and had a truck hauling service. That’s just the beginning of the legitimate businesses (hustles) he’s had that eventually earned enough to buy the building he worked in; the first of many real estate properties which enabled him to provide for his family and many others in the community.

The Best vs. Your Best

Daddy ingrained this in me: You don’t have to be the best, but you do need to always do your best. My father is not a perfect man, nor was he the perfect parent – no parent is. But he was perfect for me.

In my adult life, one of the things that I’ve learned to appreciate most about my Dad is that he has lived unapologetically! He knows he’s not perfect – has never professed to be – nor is he striving for perfection. His goal is to always be better than he’s been. I love that! And I’ve lived it.

Though he started with so few resources and so little support from his parents, he didn’t let that define him; instead he decided to do the best he could. While he knew that he might not ever be the best, he always gave his best. And even when he failed miserably, his best was always sufficient for him.

I’ve  learned as much from his flaws as I have his successes. When I’ve done my best, even if it’s not enough for others, it’s always enough for me. In those times, I’m unapologetic for my decisions and certainly for me – who I am – because I’m always enough for me. My goal is always the same, to be a better me.

Thank you Daddy for being a constant example of courage and commitment. I love you, Sam Green, Sr.

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My Father, My World: When Healthy Ties Produce Unhealthy Bonds

It was a day that I’ll never forget.  Spring of 2002, a typical beautiful California day – with curtains pulled and windows up – the day that I declared, “If something were to happen to that man I would lose my mind”.

“He was my rock, my strength, my encourager, my number one constant, consistent, and unwavering cheerleader. He was the one, with whom, I could do no wrong. He loved things about me that others hated. Even in my failures  he found good.”  That’s the gist of my part of a conversation while sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup of gourmet coffee with my, then, roommate.

Me and Daddy

Even today, I know that I am everything I am because he loved me.  The writer of Celine Dion’s song, Because You Loved Me (which is like an old hymnal for me – I cry with gratitude everytime I hear it),  must have channeled us because the song is totally exemplary of our relationship.

There’s only one man that has ever loved me this way, and that I’ve ever felt this way about and that’s, Sam Green, Sr., my Daddy.

I remember that day so well because everything within me cringed with the realization that my dependence on my father was not just unhealthy, but it was unfair…unfair to him and a setup for me to fail; to be devastated should/if/when something happens in his life that stops him from being everything he had been in my life.

My father is to be commended for his commitment to me. Daddy would do anything within his power to make life easier for me; to ease any pain and I love him for it.  I know who I am because of Daddy’s constant reminders to me.  He, not only, recognized my strengths – he reaffirmed them regularly by telling me and by guiding my thoughts and experiences so that they were real to me and he protected them; he directed and supported them.  I put him on a pedestal that no human being is capable of living up to; neither should they be expected to.

I realized that I’d made my Daddy responsible for making me feel good. I realized what an unfair burden I’d placed on him. I realized that it’s not fair to expect anybody, except me, to be responsible for making me feel good.

In that moment at the kitchen table, completely bothered by my discovery, I needed to understand how I, Ms. Independent, got to that place of enormous emotional dependence; I suddenly hungered for total self-reliance.

In every tough spot of life when I’d just take it to Daddy, I was assured his stroking and his approval. Daddy knew how to make me feel good.  Then I realized that as an adult with success in every area – but repeated interpersonal failures (understanding temperaments/personalities enough to teach it, but not live it) – that identifying and correcting the error of my ways was MY responsibility.  Daddy was just doing what he’d always done – made me feel good, but it was up to me to be my best me. I needed to grow up! Would I dare take the journey?

It was that beautiful California day, that I truly became a woman.  That decision led me to appreciate my father for the deposits he made in those formative years and for the support that he’d been my entire life.  I decided that I would no longer call Daddy to make me feel good about my issues.  Instead, I’d resort to the deposits he’d made within me: deposits of courage, resourcefulness, resilience, and persistence.   He’d always told me these reservoirs were at my disposal to understand and overcome everything in my life.  It was easier to turn to Daddy than to trust myself.

The process of owning, accepting, and embracing my weaknesses produced the ability to do for myself what nobody else could ever do.

Today, I still enjoy a very close relationship with my Daddy and I still call him about my issues, but now it’s with reports of how I’ve worked them out. Although, one of the hardest journeys I’ve ever taken, it has birthed enormous inner strength.

I realize that he will not be with me always, so I make every encounter count.  While I adore that old man, when it is his time I can let go with celebration in my heart.  I have a lifetime of wonderful memories with him and I’ll know that I have made the most of our time together. I will – no doubt – have my moments of missing him terribly, but I will continue to live my best life, hugely, in honor of his.

In order to help me to detach from what others think; to courage up and think independently enough to do my own thing Daddy would often tell me, “You came in this world alone, and you’ll leave alone.” I’ve often drawn from that deposit and have expanded its meaning: I came in this world for my own individual, unique journey – much of which I’m responsible for creating – and the state of mind and spirit that I take this journey (and exit from it with) is solely up to me.

Dare you take a parallel journey? We’re Growing UP…Grown IS Sexy! 😉

Do you have a similar experience? Leave a comment…I’m listening…

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All the best,
Zara
Speaker, Individuality Advocate
Author of Living by Design and Living in Harmony