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Happy “Baby Daddy” Day 2014

Napoleon Martin
Napoleon Martin

I lost my father 13 years ago June 7th it was close to Father’s Day so for me it’s a reminder of how blessed I was to have a man as a father since my biological dad died when I was 2 years old. While it’s been 13 years since his death, memories of his guidance and parenting combined with my mother were building blocks that I still stand on today at 57.

For some Father’s Day has become “baby daddy day” which is Father’s Day without the commitment. I learned how to work at shoveling snow, taking out trash, doing odd jobs for elderly neighbors – all of this with the guidance of a man who got up and went to work at Crouse-Hinds every day for over 38 years. He was my father.

I never realized how blessed I was until he was gone and how many boys never had that person to teach them about life and how to navigate around this nation especially as a black man.

He told me about the old south and how even looking at a white woman could get you lynched and how they weren’t free to go sit where they wanted at the movies. Economic opportunities were scarce and an education beyond the lower grades was difficult since many kids quit school to work.

When I was summarily dismissed years ago from a government job due to politics he told me, “I didn’t have the chance to get an education, you got one don’t ever let anybody tell you how to use it.” Following his advice has gotten me in trouble but I learned “not to bow, don’t know how”.

So when I’m up against a situation that seems insurmountable I reflect on his life, the sacrifices he made for children that weren’t his, the lessons he left for me that rule my life to this day.

As children he took us to the store and said, “Buy your momma something nice” – it was our introduction to Mother’s Day”.

If you were told do a task such as shovel the snow or take out the weekly trash, you knew you were in trouble since that was your responsibility every week. We learned how to be responsible, sometimes with the assistance of a firm hand.

Clinton Jackson Sr.
Clinton Jackson Sr.

As children when we’d go with our mother to the Doctor’s office we’d quietly play. Once an observing stranger asked how she kept us so well behaved my mother replied, “That’s what I expect of them”.

I was blessed to have two fathers, a biological one who made me possible and a second who taught me how to survive. To all of those men who sacrifice for children and family happy Father’s Day to the others, happy baby daddy day, there is a difference.

 

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