I watch a quiet spectator as he carries his precious bundle strapped to his fore every Sunday. He sits usually in the second row of my beloved church. At the beginning, they were two. Both of them with hands intertwined. Later, her abdomen heralded a third would join their family. That they loved each other was evident for all to see.Her demise was heart breaking. We all prayed he would be okay. He still continued to come to church; seeking solace in the community that surrounded them with love. His precious bundle he rocked back and forth, at times he looking quite lost. As she grew older and bigger, his shoulders sagged under her weight. Someone remarked kindly, maybe, he should put her in a stroller. He smiled sadly and his response: Her heart beat assures me I will be fine.
My daily musings take me to the local library where I borrow books. On the table across from where I sat; I see him coloring with two toddlers, ages two and three. He tells me, he took a pay cut to enable him raise his two children by working part time. Sure the financial struggles are a daily challenge but he says these have helped him tap into his resourcefulness. His family rarely eats out and he has become a great cook. My kids’ needs are met and that’s all that matters.
He had three sons, I remember. His relationship with his wife, their mother was at best described as a troubled one. He says they married young. Both still discovering who they were and what they wanted. He says though their relationship did not go the direction he wanted, he purposed to stay because of his sons. When their relationship made their home difficult for their children’s upbringing, he decided to cut his losses and run; primarily because of his sons. He wanted to raise them in a warm and loving environment and he came to the conclusion he couldn’t do it while married to their mother. I salute his bravery.
He navigates between two continents trying to provide for his family. His spouse is the primary care giver of three prepubescent children, one of which is severely handicapped. His nights are riddled with Skype calls trying to keep up with his family: doctors updates, helping with the kids home works, encouraging while still dispensing of punishment when necessary. He wonders if its all worth it at times: the constant plane hopping, the sleepless nights, the constant tugging on his heart strings when he misses another musical recital; when his youngest asks again and again: ‘Daddy, when are you coming home?’ How does he explain the reason why he took this job was to provide for them; that the medical costs continued to increase while his income had stayed stagnant, that the recession bit hard and Mummy’s job was scrapped by the company in their need to stay afloat. How does he explain to a six years old, that, their mortgage would not have been affordable without this change? The choices that were foisted upon him.
Orphaned in his teens, he has never been a sibling but a father to his brother. Their parents were taken when he was fifteen. His brother was still in diapers. Though he was doing well in school and could easily have gone on to a college of his choice, he knew he had to take care of his brother. He says the happiest day of his life was when his brother graduated from college. ‘He knows the price we paid to get him there’.
He mentors young men in his neighborhood. Those without positive male role models. He checks their homework ; tutors in courses they have challenges in; helps in building their character through a community center he volunteers in. He hates that he gets credit for helping the children. They are the ones giving his life meaning. My life without this program would be empty. I have found myself being a positive voice in a little brother’s head.
His daughter is my children’s pediatrician. A wonderful woman with a great heart. Over the course of my many visits we have forged a special bond. She was raised by a single parent, her mother passed very early. Her father raised herself and four siblings. She can not remember her father being absent for any program during their formative years.She once commented: He gave his all to us being our everything, there was nothing left to give to another. He never remarried.
My beloved is the voice of calm that helps soothe the tempestuous storm while navigating this journey we have embarked on. He is the voice of reason that helps calm my fears when I am overwhelmed. He is the strong arm of love that turns the rudder of our home-craft; with foresight as compass; with spiritual growth as sail.
Happy Father’s Day to all the men getting into the mud of life; willing to fight and wrestle for their seeds. For the great men who have said ‘yes’ to responsibility, who rise daily to face the fears, the joys, the triumphs of parenthood. I salute you.