Dedicated to my father, Ulysses Owens Sr.
One of my many frustrations with my community is the disconnect between men my age and young boys. If you are over the age of 30, it's your responsibility to father some of these boys that don't have a male figure in their lives.
What prompted this post was a walking detour home from church one Sunday. I began walking up Lenox Ave and saw these women and children dressed so beautifully, coming and going from church, and it warmed my heart. I crossed over into (Spanish Harlem), and I saw more beautiful young women pushing strollers, and loving on their children. I crossed Broadway into Washington Heights and I saw the same thing: beautiful women with children.
As a kid, I never had to ask myself that question of, "where is my father"? I grew up surrounded by the sound of my father's footsteps in the house, especially happy when he came home from work. I knew once he finished duties around the house, paying bills all by hand (pre-online bill pay), he'd make lunch, watch his "stories" aka The Young and the Restless, and then it was our time to spend together.
My father was amazing to me as a kid. He was one of the first people to teach me the true meaning of the words, "Before you play, you must work." I would have to work in the yard, or under the hood of a car handing him tools that I had no idea what their use was. But then, we would decide our fun for the remainder of our time together. We would go to Putt Putt Golf, or music stores for me to dream; the town was ours to explore.
One of the moments that made me understand my father's commitment to me as a parent, was one night when I got home from a date with a high school girlfriend. I returned home a little later than I should have and my dad met me in the laundry room. He pulled out a condom wrapper - I went completely numb; it was as if my heart stopped beating - and he asked , "What is this?" I swallowed my spit and started to mumble, but he stopped me before I finished one word. He answered his own question, “Well you are having sex, huh?" "Yes sir" I replied. He concluded, "I know you just received that letter in the mail about Juilliard and your full scholarship, but if you get her pregnant, your ass ain't going nowhere. So don't fuck around."
No matter how powerful my dreams were or how hard I had worked to achieve them, if I had gotten someone pregnant, as the man and father in my life, he would have made sure that my potential child had a father just as consistent as he was - no matter what I had to sacrifice.
As I ponder that walk in Harlem, and consider this season of Father’s Day; I always notice how the celebration doesn’t seem to be as big as Mother’s Day, and in my experience, no one can ever replace the power of a mother. A mother literally brings us into the world; however, for the father’s, in my opinion, it is their presence that gives us a firm foundation and placement in the world. As I seek to discover the father within, I am most thankful for my father who continues to serve as a wonderful example in my life.
Happy Father’s Day Pops!