80.3 F
Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesGROWING UP WITH DADDY MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE

GROWING UP WITH DADDY MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE

Some time ago I overheard a discussion about the pain of losing your mother. And since I am, and have always been, a momma's boy, this made a lot of sense to me. Well, it's been about a year since my father died, and I am still struggling with the grief while I am reminded of how important he was to me and how much he influenced my life.
It was Feb. 13 when my sister Mae called to say Daddy was gone. Mae has always been the strong one among the siblings, and I can still remember how her voice trailed off. He died quietly and peacefully. He had always been pretty quiet in how he went about things. My father had been ill since 1989 and, as his condition worsened, Mae brought my parents to live with her, always calling them her two roommates.
Now Daddy's passing should not have come as a surprise. It was apparent during the Christmas holidays of 1999 that the end was near. For what would be his last doctor's appointment, I had to pick him up and carry him to the car. I cannot describe how it feels, nor will I ever forget my father in a fetal position as I carried him. He was so weak and so frail, yet he was and still is the strongest man I've ever known. It was especially hard because when Daddy had his first stroke, we had carried him out from the house to the car because we couldn't wait for an ambulance.
My family gathers every year at Christmas time, and this past Christmas was the first one without him, the first one where the circle had been broken. We cried. We all cried, privately and during the saying of grace, when I visited the grave site, and when we were wrapping gifts. We cried. We all cried. Daddy had always said that once he and Momma were gone, he still wanted all of us to come home and be together at Christmas time.
You see, my father was a man. When I was growing up he was my hero, my mentor, my protector. He was also really smart. Daddy could fix anything, the car and things around the house. You name it, and Daddy could fix it. My father could also have an in-depth conversation with you on taxes, or how to run a business successfully. He even taught himself how to drive a car. There was nothing Daddy didn't know, even though he didn't get past sixth grade. He grew up in the segregated South in a farming community, and few people of his day got an education. But Daddy made sure that all of us got an education. There are five of us, and four are college graduates.
My mother always said that Daddy loved us more than he loved her. She joked that if Daddy died before her, when the minister began to say all those nice things that are always said at funerals, she would get up and look to be sure she was at the right funeral. Daddy wasn't perfect, but he and my mother had over 50 years together.
I am my father's child. Just like Daddy, I know how to do a lot of things. Much like my father, I am also notorious for having quite a few simultaneous, unfinished projects. My wife and I bought an old house recently, and I so regret that I never had a chance to ask my father how to deal with my plumbing, electrical, and termite problems. Or ask him why my car just stops, even though it's not out of gas, nor is the battery dead. Daddy got sick just at the point that he and I were going to have a lot of fun together. Just at the point where you can be a son, a man, a friend. I just know it would have been a special time for both of us.
Daddy would have loved St. Thomas. I so wish that he could have met the wonderful people who have embraced my wife and me here. I wish he had had a chance to meet Whoopsie Richardson and talk about his many projects and gadgets. If I'd had Babe Monsanto and my father giving me counsel, my hibiscus would be alive today. Had Daddy made it to St. Thomas, you would have gotten to meet a wonderful man with a big heart and a great smile.
Now, if you're wondering why I am telling you all this, I can only say that I'm not sure. This is the first anniversary of my father's passing, and I just wanted to pay tribute to the man who shaped and directed my life. My father taught me to work hard and to care about people. He loved us unconditionally and taught us right from wrong.
We have too many children growing up without their fathers. We have too many children who aren't learning how to fix things or how to be a good person or neighbor because their fathers are not around. As much as I still cry and grieve for my father, I can't imagine who I would be or where I would be, if not for him. And I guess I just wanted Daddy to know that I miss him.

Editor's note: Richard L. Brown is the volunteer coordinator of the fatherhood collaborative at the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. A former vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank, he is following his heart and teaching at Charlotte Amalie High School. Readers are invited to send comments on this article to source@viaccess.net.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,756FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
Some time ago I overheard a discussion about the pain of losing your mother. And since I am, and have always been, a momma's boy, this made a lot of sense to me. Well, it's been about a year since my father died, and I am still struggling with the grief while I am reminded of how important he was to me and how much he influenced my life.
It was Feb. 13 when my sister Mae called to say Daddy was gone. Mae has always been the strong one among the siblings, and I can still remember how her voice trailed off. He died quietly and peacefully. He had always been pretty quiet in how he went about things. My father had been ill since 1989 and, as his condition worsened, Mae brought my parents to live with her, always calling them her two roommates.
Now Daddy's passing should not have come as a surprise. It was apparent during the Christmas holidays of 1999 that the end was near. For what would be his last doctor's appointment, I had to pick him up and carry him to the car. I cannot describe how it feels, nor will I ever forget my father in a fetal position as I carried him. He was so weak and so frail, yet he was and still is the strongest man I've ever known. It was especially hard because when Daddy had his first stroke, we had carried him out from the house to the car because we couldn't wait for an ambulance.
My family gathers every year at Christmas time, and this past Christmas was the first one without him, the first one where the circle had been broken. We cried. We all cried, privately and during the saying of grace, when I visited the grave site, and when we were wrapping gifts. We cried. We all cried. Daddy had always said that once he and Momma were gone, he still wanted all of us to come home and be together at Christmas time.
You see, my father was a man. When I was growing up he was my hero, my mentor, my protector. He was also really smart. Daddy could fix anything, the car and things around the house. You name it, and Daddy could fix it. My father could also have an in-depth conversation with you on taxes, or how to run a business successfully. He even taught himself how to drive a car. There was nothing Daddy didn't know, even though he didn't get past sixth grade. He grew up in the segregated South in a farming community, and few people of his day got an education. But Daddy made sure that all of us got an education. There are five of us, and four are college graduates.
My mother always said that Daddy loved us more than he loved her. She joked that if Daddy died before her, when the minister began to say all those nice things that are always said at funerals, she would get up and look to be sure she was at the right funeral. Daddy wasn't perfect, but he and my mother had over 50 years together.
I am my father's child. Just like Daddy, I know how to do a lot of things. Much like my father, I am also notorious for having quite a few simultaneous, unfinished projects. My wife and I bought an old house recently, and I so regret that I never had a chance to ask my father how to deal with my plumbing, electrical, and termite problems. Or ask him why my car just stops, even though it's not out of gas, nor is the battery dead. Daddy got sick just at the point that he and I were going to have a lot of fun together. Just at the point where you can be a son, a man, a friend. I just know it would have been a special time for both of us.
Daddy would have loved St. Thomas. I so wish that he could have met the wonderful people who have embraced my wife and me here. I wish he had had a chance to meet Whoopsie Richardson and talk about his many projects and gadgets. If I'd had Babe Monsanto and my father giving me counsel, my hibiscus would be alive today. Had Daddy made it to St. Thomas, you would have gotten to meet a wonderful man with a big heart and a great smile.
Now, if you're wondering why I am telling you all this, I can only say that I'm not sure. This is the first anniversary of my father's passing, and I just wanted to pay tribute to the man who shaped and directed my life. My father taught me to work hard and to care about people. He loved us unconditionally and taught us right from wrong.
We have too many children growing up without their fathers. We have too many children who aren't learning how to fix things or how to be a good person or neighbor because their fathers are not around. As much as I still cry and grieve for my father, I can't imagine who I would be or where I would be, if not for him. And I guess I just wanted Daddy to know that I miss him.

Editor's note: Richard L. Brown is the volunteer coordinator of the fatherhood collaborative at the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. A former vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank, he is following his heart and teaching at Charlotte Amalie High School. Readers are invited to send comments on this article to source@viaccess.net.