As a child I would wonder why my dad worked such long days. I would often ask “why can’t you just stay home and play with us?” referring to my brother and I. His response would almost always be the same from what I remember. He would tell me that if he stayed home he wouldn’t have a job and that would mean he wouldn’t be able to provide for our family.
Young and naive I thought to myself often that I would be my own boss one day so that I could stay home and play with my kids whenever I wanted to. My dad worked full time for the state along with managing his own lawn service since a few months before I was born. He also worked his way through night school to earn his master’s degree in history, thus landing a gig as an adjunct professor of history on FAMU campus for many years.
My dad moved to Tallahassee from Jacksonville at the age of 18 with $50 and a dream. Raised by his loving grandmother, my dad grew up a single child surrounded at times by uncles and older cousins but never a dad of his own. After graduating from Raines high school where he played trombone in the band, he set his sights on FAMU. Upon arrival God was waiting for him on the curve. As he sat contemplating his next move, he was approached by a person who asked if he had registered for classes yet and he responded, no. The person directed my dad where to go to register for classes and he was now officially a college student.
Later my dad was approached by a man who asked if he had a place to stay, to which my dad responded no. The young man said, “Well you can stay with me.” My dad told the young man that he didn’t have any money and the guy responded, “That’s alright, the room is paid up.” My dad responded, “Well what about food?” The young man said, “oh and don’t worry, I’ve got us covered.” My dad agreed and followed his new roommate to their new apartment. Upon arrival he quickly learned why the young man earned the nickname Hog, but later stated that he was one of the most kind-hearted people he’d ever met.
Now as for the food situation, my dad discovered that Hog’s promise to have everything covered was just a little bit too good to be true. Discovering a loaded cooler my dad inquired about its contents. Hog said, “Aw man, remember when I told you I had you covered?” Opening the lid of the cooler he found it to be packed with fish on ice. “This should be enough to last us a month or so.”
To this day my dad won’t eat mullet fish to save my life. He made a promise to himself that he would take care of himself and never again be without a place to rest his head, food he likes to eat, and a way to get where he need to be. After starting a family he had a number of new responsibilities to add to his list as well as new promises that I knew nothing about at that time.
My dad would work such long hours that it seemed as if we would only see him on Sundays. Huddled under an old gray blanket he always reminded me of a snoring mountain. I was happy to get to spend time with him and was eager to learn to work so that I could spend more time with him. Due to my age and not understanding his role completely, I had a distorted view of his role in my life for quite some time.
As I made my decision to embark on the path of manhood and right the wrongs in my life, I took on a spirit of understanding and forgiveness. I also begin to look at things with an open mind. I once saw a quote that said “people do not look to understand from your perspective, they only look to understand from theirs.” Meaning, no matter how many facts are there if a person is not willing to accept the facts… they suffer. So I made up my mind to find the truth.
Recently I thought back to my childhood, where I grew fund of road trips to central Florida and staring endlessly at the miles upon miles of woods that lined the highway. Living in Florida has its perks but the one drawback is, when it comes to the seasons, we never get to experience a snowy Christmas. That being said my attention was drawn recently to a quote by Robert Frost that made me research a bit of his life and accomplishments. The quote was an excerpt from one of his poems entitled “Stopping by the Woods on A Snowy Day”, and upon reading it you may begin to see the web I’ve woven with these words thus far.
But I had promises to keep
And miles and miles before I sleep
And miles and miles before I sleep.
Now it all made sense. Now I knew why even though I made appeal after appeal, he would still walk out that door and off to work. He had promises to keep.