“I feel privileged to be his son. I am happy to have had him, if only for a little while.” —-Julius Garvey
Julius Garvey was able to articulate loving words for his father, Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Building the Universal Negro Improvement Association, what was then and now the largest African American organization ever, required non-stop travel which meant Mr. Garvey was often away from home and his family. Yet, it appears Mr. Garvey was able to cast and sustain favorable memories in the mind of his son Julius. Some may say it is the quality of the time spent with someone that counts while others may voice an argument for quantity. What transcends debate is this question which looms large; how many sons being raised by single mothers will be able to voice words of admiration and love for their fathers?
Missing fatherly love
“I never really knew my father, and the biggest problem that I had in growing up is missing that fatherly love.” —-Bernice King
Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., like Marcus Garvey, was a man with a calling much bigger than himself. Both were successful in doing what is expected of men; leaving the community more beautiful and beneficial than when they came on the scene. And in the process of doing so, Garvey and King overcame overwhelming odds and made countless sacrifices. Yet, in one instance the love of the father was felt (Garvey) and in the other (King) sorely missed.
It has been said it is the responsibility of the father, at the very least, to provide for and protect his family. Few deeds can be as gratifying as when these are fulfilled. On the other hand, there is little that can be as devastating for a father when he is unable to do so. Be it the Holocaust of Enslavement which deprived men of the ability to provide or protect their families or contemporary economic challenges, the question remains how can fathers, irrespective of conditions, deliver words and deeds of love to their sons who reside across town or across the continent?
Men picking up the ball
For certain there are many single moms who can recount story after story of how their son’s father failed to hold up his end of the responsibility to assist in the raising of their manchild. Some mothers make it their business to regularly remind the child of his father’s shortcomings while others wisely focus on the good the absent father has done, however minimal. Fathers, like doting moms, have an opportunity to be a part of their son’s life. Technology has made it possible to remain in touch with virtually anyone anywhere via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, text messaging, etc. All one need have is the will to do so; a will predicated on stepping up to the plate and fulfilling a responsibility. But even more so, there is the realization of the need to build memories with a son who embodies so much of who his father is. A son who represents the next leg of a generational relay race that began centuries ago. And should the father refuse to do it for his son, then let him have the foresight to do it for himself. He will soon come to relish the considerable accrued benefits.
From the Akan region of Ghana, West Africa comes the word “Sankofa” which means it is okay to go back and fetch it in order to go forward. What one would expect to “fetch,” of course, is history in an attempt to learn its lessons, seize its spirit and emulate its successes. There is a lesson here for fathers. As time quickly passes like so much sand through the hour glass, so do the opportunities to create memorable experiences with a son. Going back presupposes there is something that transpired in the past that can be captured and embraced in the present. Resolve today to create those memories.
To your journey!