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My Father Was Old School . . . I Call Him Wise

Black news from Pasadena - Editorial on fathers and role modelsIt is a scary thought but more than 50 percent of fathers live without their children. I know that with that unscientific number I am being generous, so I will say nearly 70 percent of children live without their fathers. For numerous reasons, fathers find a reason to absent themselves from their children.

For first-time fathers, there's that period just after the child is born when euphoria comes with knowing that you have participated in creating a child. God has blessed an act that gave you a feeling of euphoria with a product that looks like you. Men are so proud that they give that child their name, if it's a son. And then, many are gone.

An example is Barack Obama. His father's name was Barack Obama. History tells that soon after the birth of Barack, he was gone. Was it jealousy of this new child who is now consuming the mother's time? Or was it the doctor's unwelcome words that now you have to wait to act out sexually again? And then you pretend you can't count. Did that doctor say four weeks, or did he say six weeks? Is he crazy? Or will I go crazy trying to wait six weeks?

For some men, that is the first time that the idea of leaving comes to your head. Of course you come to your senses and realize that you are a strong, secure man and you can wait. You tell yourself, it ain't that important anyway. That sounds good, doesn't it? Then there is the time the bills stack up, or she came home late, or the child gets sick, or the wife gets sick, or she is hounding you about getting married, and you don't think it's cute to make babies anymore, and you leave, like a lot of fathers do. Well, what's not cute is when the court says you owe child support, or you see the guy that she has chosen to raise your baby, and the baby is calling him daddy. You wonder where is the love, where did the good times go. You find yourself at the club, or wherever you go, and fatherhood is the farthest thing from your mind. Next thing you know, Oops, you get a call that your kid is in trouble, or in jail, or in court, and can you help?

An old slave poem says that "love is like a faucet it turns off and on. And just when you think you've got it, it's turned off and gone." After the love is gone, you are still a father, so act like it. And then there is the role model set by Mr. Robinson, Michelle Obama's Father, who was one of the 30 percent who signed up to father Greg and Michelle. He got up daily, went to work with (even though he was ill). The results, Greg is a college professional basketball coach and Michelle . . ., well you know her accomplishments. I guess Mr. Robinson's way was Old School.

Then there is my role model, my father, who stayed with my mother for 51 years before he passed. He took care of her and the four children they produced together, and when my wife and I celebrate our 50th Anniversary at the end of this month, the celebration will be in the house that my father bought for his family in 1956. We call it "HOPKINS HOUSE." Our reception ceremony will again be held in the yard where we had our wedding reception 50 years ago. I guess today's youth would say my father was old school, to which I say, "Thank God." My father's legacy is that house and the life lessons he taught us. His legacy includes my three sons and 7 grand children, my brother's 3 children, and my two sisters and their two children and grandchildren.

Daddy sacrificed for us, even though he never even accomplished a high school diploma. He stayed and raised four children. Three of us earned college degrees. There are no prison sentences. He gave us much and expected much from us, including that we obey our mother and other elders, a good Christian background based on church attendance, Sunday School, YPWW (Young People Willing Workers), and Saturday morning Sunshine Band. He expected from us no drug use or other embarrassing histories. We were proud of our father and we tried to make him proud of us. You can call that Old School. I call it smart, wise and good fathering.

The tags on my red, SSR truck says, "HOPPIES", for my father's nickname. It gives me an opportunity to thank him everyday for being there and staying there. The original name for the Pasadena Journal was a newsletter called "HOPPIES' Journal". I want to be sure that, though he is gone, he's not forgotten. What will your children say about you?