Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus' description of himself "I am the Good Shepherd" (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: "To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs." (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Daddy, I Need to Hear Your Voice
by Simon T. Bailey
Women have two problems with men. (I can almost hear a few ladies saying, “only
two?” with a smirk.) The two key issues are that, as men, we don’t talk and rarely
listen. When we do talk it is all about us, and when we listen we have selective
hearing. Well, this couldn’t be farther from the truth in this next instance.
My father recently had to have surgery and I decided to fly up to Buffalo, New York
to be with him. I won’t bore you with the details, but he made it through with flying
colours. Thank goodness. On the day prior to his discharge, we were just sitting
in the hospital room when all of a sudden my father started talking to me.
It was way deeper than sports, weather, politics, or the economy. Someone or something
turned on a faucet inside of him and for the next three hours we had one of the
most meaningful dialogues I have ever experienced in my life. My Daddy did more
than communicate, he connected with me. He looked me in the eyes and gave me an
oral history of our family for the last 100 years.
Now, my Dad is a man’s man. I have never seen him break down, but he broke down
twice while talking to me about leaving Jamaica to come to America at 19 years of
age as a migrant worker picking oranges in Florida. Then he went to Perry, NY along
with another migrant worker to pick up apples. You would think that I would know
this history, but I didn’t. I’ve been working since I was 12 years old and really
didn’t know my family.
Some might say, perhaps you need to go and see a shrink. It’s all good. I am okay.
This is just one of those moments that caught this “A-type control freak” personality
of mine by surprise.
What is so amazing about this is that for the last twenty-five years, since leaving
Buffalo, NY to carve out my own path, I have talked to my parents just about every
Sunday evening. Our conversations are short, sweet and unemotional. I know for
some that this might be TMI (Too Much Information), but I have been waiting for
the last twenty-five years for my father to peel back the layers of his masculinity
and be emotionally available. Is it a sign of weakness? Hardly. I believe it’s a
sign of strength.
Those three hours of talking, listening, and sharing with my Pops left me speechless.
I know you find that hard to believe. Me, speechless? I had to get up and walk
around the hospital to clear my mind. In those three hours, he filled in so many
blanks. He told me that when I was 7 years old I would say that I would write a
book. He told me what he saw in me. He closed the loop in sharing what was in our
family DNA. He told me that my Grandfather, his father, was a brilliant man with
a sharp mind. I never met my Grandfather; I wish I could have. A part of me has
always sensed that there was a missing piece to my life’s puzzle. My Dad’s talking
to me helped me understand why I have a such free, cavalier, and often independent
spirit. It’s because of him.
He filled in the blanks and in an instant built a bridge from the past to the present.
The most touching moment was on the ride home from the hospital as I sat in the
back seat with my Dad. I was reminiscing with arrows of emotions shooting through
me wondering, “did my Daddy ever hold my hand when I was growing up?” I am sure
he did. Nevertheless this 40+ year-old man reached over and grabbed my Daddy’s hand.
I don’t know why I did but I could hear Luther Vandross singing in the symphony
hall of my soul – Dance with my father.
For fifteen minutes during the ride home, I held my 70 year-old father’s hand and
I got it. It clicked. As a father of two incredible children, I realized the heavy
sense of responsibility I have to help them uncover their purpose and identity.
When we arrived home, I made sure that my Pops was okay. He turned to me and said,
“Son, I am so glad that you came.” In that moment, my Dad hugged me with his words.
WOW! I didn’t know that I needed to know that my visit really mattered to him.
He then did what was most profound … my Daddy put his hand on my shoulder and
closed his eyes and started talking to God. It was like he was a friend of God.
He said, “God, thank you for Simon. Please watch over him and his family. Keep
him in all of his ways.” My Daddy talked to God about me. As a result, I know everything
is going to be just fine.
I stood frozen and leaned over this 5’7”, 140 lb. giant of man and kissed him on
his forehead. I said to myself, “That’s my Daddy. He doesn’t belong to anyone else.
That’s my Daddy. That’s my friend.” I don’t know how much time my Dad has here
on earth. But one thing is for sure, if he should depart Earth, I know beyond a
shadow of doubt that he loves me. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to know, that I mattered
Please my friend, do not go to your grave without talking to those who matter the most to you.
Be real. Be authentic. Put your truth on the table about how you are really doing.
I can promise you that when you do your life will make a significant shift. Thank
you for letting me bend your ear.
May the LORD bless Nigeria, American and Israel and take care of us; May the LORD make His face shine upon us, And be gracious to us; May the Lord lift up His countenance upon us, And give us peace, In Jesus Christ Name, we pray! Amen!
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