Today, the world celebrates “Fathers’ Day”. While, I love the idea of the special attention being given to Fathers, I think “Real Dads” should be appreciated every day.
It is a blessing to still have my dad today. He is 83 years and counting. I am thankful to God for my sound biblical upbringing and for my Dad who played a significant role in my development. I am forever grateful.
It is my honour to share with you some of the Lessons learnt from my Dad.
Lesson no. 1
A relationship with God changes you for the better
Dad often spoke of his spiritual transformation when we were kids. He talked about life before when he found pleasure in the things of this world. He was only 24 and was already negatively influenced by the dangerous practices the world had to offer. He told the story of being invited to church and not recalling how he left his seat and found himself at the Altar. He told the story of the prayer of faith that changed his life forever. Since his encounter with God, he has been different. He experienced the power of God and that, he couldn’t fully explain.
As children we witnessed that change, we lived within the moment of the testimony he told. He preached and counseled others within the context of change. He preached from a place of experience. Dad was transformed from a young man who was interested in pleasure and living selfishly to a young man who wanted absolutely nothing to do with his past. He now wanted to learn more about God’s plan for his life.
Lesson no. 2
A Dad must faithfully provide for his Family
I grew up physically poor but spiritually loaded. Despite the fact that we had limited cash circulating, we always had food to eat. My Dad did lots of gardening and still does to an extent. He planted corn, sweet potatoes, yams, string beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, eggplants, cabbages, carrots, bell peppers, seasoning peppers, sugar cane and the list goes on. Our garden and the many fruit trees around our home, were the main source of food for our family. My Dad worked hard to make that possible. Not only did he plant but he maintained the fruit trees. We enjoyed fruits all year round, from mangoes (a wide variety of them), to cherries, guavas, sugar apples, plums, sour sops and more.
We enjoyed modest homes but we were proud of the places we called home. We moved at least four times during my childhood but Dad and Mom did a great job with the selections. It was not enough for Dad to be renting and even though it was late in his life, he built us a home that we were finally able to call ours. Dad did not experience the burden of a home mortgage as many experience today. He was very disciplined with his finances and practiced saving for times like these. The building of our home explained grace, kindness, faith and perseverance. Dad lead the way on this Project when it seemed crazy and crazy became our cherished home.
Lesson no. 3
A Dad must be faithful to his wife
I grew up with five brothers. Dad had two sons before marrying mom. We loved them and looked forward to the time when they visited; they lived in St. Vincent. Sometimes we visited them as well. Dad’s two sons from his past life, was all we had to remind us of his past. There was no other woman in his life, he was committed to our Mother. He gave us no reason to wonder or to be fearful of the threat of another woman. Our family felt safe and solid.
Lesson no. 4
A Dad must be a Cheer Leader for his Children
As we grew, we pursued our individual paths, not always a path that Dad would approved of, but we new then, and now that he always wanted the very best for us and believed in our potential. As kids he would often show his disapproval in silence and firm stares, he did not talk a lot. We knew however, when he was proud of us, whether it was our grades at school, performance at sports, our singing or presentations at church, we knew! He expressed it in words and pleasant expressions. He was our cheer leader in a reserved but evident manner and that was powerful. We were always motivated to achieve. Thoughts of not being able to make it or accomplish our dreams were never because of what dad said or did. He showed us how to achieve by pursuing his dreams until they became a reality and we knew we possessed the same tenacity for success.
Lesson no. 5
Discipline and love goes hand in hand
We grew up at a time when parents whipped, used the belt, ruler, and other helps to instill discipline. Dad seemed to have known a little more or maybe it was his spiritual transformation that made the difference. We got “licks” as well but it was not freely given, it was reserved for those times when our disobedience crossed the line. It was reserved for those times when harsher methods were appropriate and a lesson had to be urgently taught. “Licks” and love often went hand in hand. I remember getting “licks” once and I felt so sorry for what I did but yet I was thankful. Strange right? Well, not really, because it was done in Love. “Licks” and Love!
Lesson no. 6
Trust & Space
As we grew older, we enjoyed more freedom. We had received Godly instructions from church, from school and more so from home and then we were trusted to make our own decisions. We were equipped, our life-banks were adequately stocked for good success and then we were expected to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves”.
I never felt as if I was in bondage or under pressure to do the right thing. We were educated about right and wrong. We knew the difference between wholesome fun and dangerous fun and it came mainly from our parents, what they taught us and how they lived. We had other great examples around us as well. It was then up to us to choose. We were told how to choose and about consequences. As teenagers we were never forced to make choices to please our parents but rather to please God.
Lesson no. 7
Spend valuable time with your family – establish healthy memories
We played quite a bit of table games as a family, Ludo, Life, Checkers, and there was a game that dad invented with various families and we had to exchange cards to complete each family. I loved that game! My favourite family was the “Sharers”.
Dad loved table-tennis and most of us learned the basic idea of the sport. We visited the beach often on Saturdays, something I miss dearly. We had drive-outs and pick-nicks, as well as camp trips. We would help out sometimes roasting breadfruit, corn and potatoes and would often enjoy roasted breadfruit and salt-fish for supper, many times out on the porch under the moonlight. Many of our family meals were enjoyed together around the table, filled with chatter and laughter.
Church life was great as kids. My Dad was a Pastor and we enjoyed the activities of the church, the daily vacation bible schools, special crusades, lovely singing, great Christmas Programmes, Camps and more. We loved Church and our Church family. Things were so different then.
Our primary school education was from the Berean Christian Academy. My elder brother and sister were members of the school band. My sister played the flute and my brother, the trombone. I believe he was introduced to the saxophone at school as well. We enjoyed a number of school concerts as a family. Uplifting music saturated our family, at home, at school and at church. As I think about Dad, I think about the happy home environment he and mom created for us and the many musical records we enjoyed. One of my favourite memories is “Jump back little frog, Jump back”. I searched YouTube hoping to find a recording of that little nursery rhyme but to know avail. Dad bought me my first guitar when I was a teenager, and I am so happy he did.
Family devotions was led by Dad. They were those times when we were encouraged to reflect on our thoughts and our actions. They were sobering moments of introspection as we were reminded to live in line with God’s principles.
I am writing this article, and I am reminded to keep my articles short and captivating. I think I have already written too much. There is so much I want to share.
To all the Dads out there, please know that your little girls and little boys as well as your big girls and big boys need your attention, your love and your discipline.
We love you. Happy Fathers’ Day!