It’s Father’s Day. And the internet LOVES to go nuts on a holiday. But this morning, I was really disappointed in some otherwise smart and insightful folks I follow on Twitter. I know what you’re thinking: “Bitter single moms man-bashing, right Eva?”
Wrong. It was women, some who claim to be close to their dads, some with good men in their lives, some with kids, some without, SINGLE MOM BASHING. Women…in what they view as solid positions…tearing down other women in what they view as less than solid positions, with generalized and sweeping insults, that they assumed apply to all single mothers.
Shame on you judgmental bitches.
But this post is not about you. Your post is coming this week. So…on to what this post IS about.
When I was a little girl, my father’s addictions and vices kept him from being an influence in my life – good OR bad. I never knew what it was like to have him in the house with us. I grew up in a classic old school West Indian household, where my uncles and grandparents were part of daily life. When I tell you I had a happy, almost Utopian childhood, believe that. When my father chose his vices over me, my maternal grandfather and uncles stepped up with my godfather to round out the team. They say it takes a village…and I had one. No sob story here, kids. In school, I felt sorry for those kids only making ONE Father’s Day card. I made four.
Neener neener neeeeeeener!
Today, I’m paying tribute to the four men who taught me what a real man is; the men who loved/chastised/molded me into the woman I am today; the men who gave me the blueprint I’m using in raising my son. His dad is wonderful to him, but these men paved the road that brought his dad into my life.
My maternal grandfather: Joseph Patrick M.
“Pop”, as I called him, gave me my work ethic and showed me that a good man works hard at whatever it is that he does to take care of his family. He came to this country as a teenager from the tiny island of St. Vincent, where he was a goat-herder. Yes, you read that correctly. He had just turned 19, and sat in Ellis Island for 3 days…afraid that his slightly-off eye socket would bar his entry into a new life. The powerful kick of an angry goat had broken his cheekbone years before – island doctors could do nothing but let it heal on its own. Once here, he worked his way up from short order cook to Head Banquet Chef at the Waldorf Astoria. His most proud moment? Buying my grandmother a house…in cash…in the then-all-Jewish Bronx and making her a housewife to raise his children. Pop was The Man. And please know that his dinner was ALWAYS on the table. Big piece of chicken? Y’all can’t even see him. Pshhhhhh…
My eldest uncle: Robert Danvers F.
Uncle Danny taught me through example that a good man can fix things, and you can trust that they’re actually FIXED when he’s done. That can apply to situations, to broken fixtures, or just to moods. In Uncle Danny’s case, it applied to every house project my grandmother could think of. Run a new electrical line? Uncle Danny did that. Repair Pop’s TV before the baseball game came on…back when they had TUBES? Uncle Danny did that. Build new window screens for all the windows in a huge 3 story house? Uncle Danny did that…from scratch. He was a god in my eyes. There was nothing he couldn’t do. Real men have tools, and they know how to use them. (Shut up and stop being perverted. GAWD – where do I get you people from??) I was in awe. Remind me to tell you about him hunting a snake upstate once, all because I screamed. Jesus!
My younger uncle: Edward Solomon F.
Sensitive Pisces that he was, he showed me that real men have compassion; they have empathy; they aren’t afraid to have a heart. My late uncle would give you the shirt off his back. There were these two little old lady sisters that he used to see in the local Pathmark. Whenever he saw them come in, he helped them shop, just as he would have done for his own mother. I mean…well…IF she shopped. My grandmother’s haughty self had people for that: sons. But anyway, I digress. Bottomline: Billy Badass gets no love from me…unless he’s reaching up to that high shelf to get a can of peas for an elder.
My godfather: Ricardo Noel M.
Where do I even begin to tell y’all about this man. I can’t stop smiling as I type. My late godfather was just THAT DUDE! I mean, you young cats out here think you know…but you have no IDEA! For better or for worse, he shaped my picture of what makes a man’s style and manner attractive to me. Uncle Ricky was a young man when he entered the Navy and saw the world. See, folks had trouble keeping their balance on Harlem rooftops around him it seems. ::shrugs:: So, he got outta town for a while…just to be safe. ::cough:: When he came home, honorable discharge papers in-hand, he set his busy hands to work for the city in hospital administration. By the time I came along, he was the quintessential gentlemen and thug in one. Flawless suits, manicured fingers, diamond pinky ring, and LAWWWD if he didn’t smell good! Women fell for him with just a glance and a joke. I know, he sounds like a pimp. But he was respected in the streets and in the boardroom. You could take him anywhere, and he was IT. His travels and culture gave him conversation material for days. His general business smarts made him hard to outwit. And damned if he wasn’t the best spades partner I ever had. Listen…butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. Whew! He got nothing but love. He went to rent parties in Harlem in the 80s and wore his jewelry, honey. And I loved him to pieces. Still do.
So those are my kings, kids. Well, along with the one I’m raising, but he is yet a prince. Three of them are in heaven now, and I hope I’ve made them proud in my life. I’m blessed to have my Uncle Danny still walking this earth – he can call to yell at me if I don’t.
Aaaaand the phone’s ringing… “Hello? Oh hi, Uncle Danny……suuuure. I’ve got time to talk…”
Fuck. I think he read the threesome blog. ::sigh:: Later folks.
Happy Father’s Day to all who earned it!