Praise and Glory be to the Creator of the heavens and earth and all that is in between and Happy Father’s Day to all. As I wake this morning feeling blessed to be a father and to have had the pleasure and the pains of living with my children throughout their lives side-by-side with my wife raising them. I reflect with gratitude to my Lord that I could be their to co-parent our children. In my our childhood this was not the case for me. My mother and father both college graduates and professions separated in the late 1950’s and as an only child I was raised by mother. My mother and father lived a short bicycle ride away from each other in Brooklyn.
On Saturdays while riding on the subway from Brooklyn to Harlem. As I got older I would visit my father.
My father owned a pharmacy in Delano Village in Harlem and I would spend my Saturdays with him at the “Drug Store”. I treasured those days and I benefited from his example of service and from his wisdom. He taught me about the world, rules of human nature, the keys to being successful.
I would notice that after we crossed 110th Street many Black people would begin getting on the train. Many of these Black were dressed differently, the men in dark suits and women with long dress and scarfs. So, one Saturday day after they all got off at 125th and Lenox Ave, I asked my dad, “Who are these people?”. He said, ‘They are Muslims, most them came up from the Georgia, North and South Carolina….lot of them have been prison or on drugs and this help them…but we don’t need it.’
Years later I would learn that these were members of the Nation of Islam and they could very well have been going to listen to Malcolm X. In those days my dad was giving the “Teachings” – his teachings.
He imparted upon me great confidence and taught what it means to be a proud man and an achiever. In my ‘Lost Semesters’ in college he who preach, “Priorities, priorities, priorities…. Man!”.
I finally got my priorities straight, got out of ungrad and in to studies in graduate school and accepted Islam, got married and started my family.
I love my dad deeply for his sage-like wisdom, his mentoring and in my adult years for the friendship we share.
But, It will never be lost to my conscience the day in and day out “fathering” that my mom did. She was fathering me too…reminding what a real man is supposed to do and doing it in the absence of my father. When you’re a single parent you have to be a mother sometimes and a father other times.
I decided to be ‘The Father’ that my dad symbolized and ‘The Father’ that mother visualized me to be.
So on this Father’s Day I pray for all the fathers to struggle to be what their children want them to be and the fathers our women need them to be. For the mothers carrying the dual role this day is for you too, thanks mom.
Although, Father’s Day is not an Islamic tradition it does give us an opportunity to think about fatherhood and our role with these some extraordinary human beings, struggling to be a man and a father and so much more.
Salaam and Happy Father’s Dad to all.