The meaning of being father – I learned from my dad

Father & Son bondToday, the male of the specie is constantly being marginalized, adult males are finding it difficult to define the meaning of being a father to their children. More so their sons, the future fathers. Yet there are many men who have done so, not so much by word, but by their action over their lifetime. Probably your father is such a person. Mine was, I learned a lot from my dad.

I’ll share a small bit with you.

My father died six years ago – hmmmm I just typed in those words and my eyes are brimming with tears. Didn’t expect that. Anyhow, for the years that he was my father, he was a father. He came to Trinidad at age 19 from the tiny island of Montserrat. His education was elementary according to today’s standards, yet he was intelligent, motivational, musical, lyrical, hard-working, strong, decisive, intentional, kind, had the most infectious laugh I’ve ever heard and was all man. We – his wife and children – loved and respected him.

Remembering my father

Recollecting my early memories of this tall, strong, lean man – few men in our village reached up to his height – I recall that he disappeared early in the morning. He left as soon as our morning devotion was over. I seldom saw him again until night fall. He was gone all day, working hard to earn a living for his wife and seven children. We sometimes cried when he was leaving as we were young and did not understand the responsibilities of life. We wanted to go with him on his bicycle to wherever he was going. I can still see him as he hopped onto his bicycle. One foot on the pedal, the other giving two quick ‘pumps’ and then he swung his leg over the saddle. He began to pedal as he settled down and was soon out of sight around the corner.

Evenings

He’d return at the end of the day, as the sun was setting – sometimes after it had set. He would be tired and hungry but had some love for our mother and us. He would often inquire how the day passed from those who were in school. He allowed the smaller ones to crawl all over or sit on the floor near him. After he had eaten, he would bring out the day’s newspaper and read and explain to us the events of the previous day. Then he would regale us with stories of life on the island of Montserrat. He ended by promising to take us on vacation there one day when he had a good harvest from the garden. That is where he disappeared to each day. Then it was time to go to bed.

He awoke the next day to repeat the cycle…….except on Wednesdays and Fridays. On those two days he loaded his bike with produce from the garden. He went throughout the neighboring villages selling, until all were sold or it was time to return home.

Sabbaths

Weekends were different. On Sabbaths (Saturdays) we dressed in our finest clothes and went off to church – we are Seventh-day Adventists. Even then, he didn’t go with us because he had cows to look after before he went to church. So we’d go ahead and he would come later. He was so tired from the week’s labor that not too long after he sat down in church he’d fall asleep. This was a source of great embarrassment to my mom and us. She often chided him for sleeping in “the house of the Lord” when we got home. As we grew older we – the children – took his sleeping less seriously and at times used it to tease him. He took it good-naturedly.

He often placed about four of us on the bike and push us home after church, chatting with my mom or others on the way. There were seven of us children. Five boys, two girls – in that order.

Having lunch with him on Sabbath was always the best. It was the only day that he had the time to sit for lunch with the whole family. He was gone by four o’clock in the afternoon to look after the cattle again. He returned in the night. Sometimes we would enjoy a walk with him to the village grocery to purchase foodstuff for the week. We would talk about life, the future and politics.

Sundays

Sundays was probably his best day in terms of income. He made ice cream every Sunday and made the two-mile ride to the beach to sell. He would ride the entire stretch of the beach over and over until ever scoop of ice cream was finished. Then he would come home. Again, most times in the night. Yet I never heard him complain about how hard he worked. In fact, until we were much older and able to join him in his weekly and weekend trades, we had no appreciation of what it meant to our father to work so hard every day. He did it for us – his children and his wife.

Every day did not yield good results and we grew up considering ourselves poor. But we were happy. Yet my father never threw up his hands and give up nor did he ever stop working.

How Dada taught us

He also taught us to work. I did not appreciate this until I became an adult. As we became able, as long as school was out, we had to help him in the garden. We headed off to the garden at break of day sunshine or rain, unless mummy intervened, and returned home late in the evening. Sometimes we left with only some hot tea in our stomachs and had to walk through the still wet grass to get to our acreage. I hated that, but I had to go. My mother would come later with breakfast or would prepare it in our ‘ranch’ when she got there.

Dada – that’s what we called him – kept our spirits up throughout the day, with stories of life in Montserrat and promises to take us there if the harvest was good. At the same time he encouraged us to pursue our education with vigor, and had high hopes for all of us.

His way

I described my father as intentional because he had a serious purpose behind what he did. He acted subtly at times, but still with directed intent. This is seen in how he sought to direct our career aspirations. He let us know what he hoped for each of us by referring to us by that title, especially when in the company of others. So my eldest brother was referred to as Dr Earl, the second as Pastor Earlan and so forth. Looking back now, we did not all fulfill his dreams and I guess he was disappointed by that. He didn’t make us feel bad about it though. When we did not do as well in school as he expected us to, we knew that he would not be harsh with us even though he may scold us.

Dada only used the whip when thing were threatening to get out of hand or when he was angry and felt it was needed. I can only remember one ‘licking’ from him. I got the message and didn’t need another. He worked hard to ensure that all of us received, as he used to say “a secondary education”. Those of us who went on to pursue degrees, did so because of the foundation which he laid by his tireless efforts.

He was a friendly person and I can’t recall him having an enemy. We, his children, were known as “Mr Coseman’s” children. That is not his name and I know not how he came to be called by that, but everybody called him by that name. He answered to it too.

We felt secure having him as our father. Even the other children of the village liked him. It was not until after his death that we begun to find out about how deeply he affected the lives of other young people in the community.

A loving father

Dada and my mom, had a good relationship – most of the time. Yes, there were misunderstandings and sometimes he left for the garden having said some harsh things and heard some from her. However, if when he got home she was still angry, he would playfully harass her until he got a smile out of her. By bedtime all was peace in our home. I can’t recall a day passing when any member of our family was not speaking to another one. That was unheard-of among us. Even when we had sharp disagreements, it was resolved and we went on with our lives living amicably with each other. This confused onlookers, but it was our way and I am grateful for that.

His personal touch

While in primary school, I got a beating from one of my teachers one day, for being unable to work a math problem. The strap used was hard and cut my arm. I went home and showed it to my parents. There was no outrage from them but the next day my father visited the school.

All I know is that he spoke to the teacher. It did not stop me from being spanked, but I was never cut again and there was not animosity between my dad and the teacher.

So I’ve shared with you a small glimpse into the father I have known, loved and cherished. I thank God for him and the things he taught us. He didn’t take much time to teach us his sons how to relate to the fairer sex. The few things he said to me as he looked at me delve into that roller coaster world has lingered on.

When he thought I wanted to get married too early he said to me, ” when you get married, it’s then you does begin to see women”. It was true. When I wanted to get married to someone that he did not approve of, he commented “she will not welcome home your friends”. True again.

When I did get married and had children there was an altercation with my wife one evening. She had complained about the behavior of my firstborn. I wanted to scold him based on something she had reported to me. Dada said, after observing the whole scene, “children naturally love their mothers, fathers have to win their love. Don’t let your wife cause your children to hate you”. Words of wisdom.

Appeal to fathers and children

Today, fathers are generally marginalized. Some mothers teach their children to hate their fathers – deliberately. Children carry their mother’s desire for revenge on their fathers. They also develop their own as a result of having been neglected, abandoned or abused by the man who should have been a source of safety and security to them. Many fathers are imprisoned, by drugs, hate, lust and the iron doors of prison facilities. And for everyone thus locked up, a child or children are left without that stabilizing factor in their lives. Despite the best efforts of the mother, the home is left headless.

This in itself, confuses what it means to be a father.

A lot of noise is made by influential people in society about the need for better male role models but little is done to make it a reality. Fathers are being arbitrarily separated from their children. Such action is based just on suspicion of abuse.

A call to men

I call on all males – you have been designed by God to be fathers, even if you choose not to become one. Stand strong in your God-given manhood and maleness. Stand against the prevailing influences of a twisting and twisted world. Take back your God appointed position and under Him, be the shaper and director of society. Be tender and loving to all, especially your family. Do not be so soft that you agree to that which you know is morally wrong and detrimental to your home and others. Resist wickedness no matter where it comes from, even if you find it among those you love. Or those who as a result of education or position in society, you would often deffer to.

Let the meaning of being a father be seen in every aspect of your life. Your children, your community learns from you.

As a father, your first responsibility is to your child/children. Do not allow anyone else to replace you there. Even in cases where you are unable to continue life with their mother, continue to provide for and teach them. Then the children of your neighborhood and then the wider society. Teach them morality. Forget all the crap about what is ethical, for ethics is man-made morality and changes to suit the situation. You have a responsibility to yourself and those that come forth from your loins. Find out what God says is right and teach it by “precept and example”. Anything short of that is failure and the consequences are always detrimental and eternal. The ethics of a moral man will always be correct.

Release the negative

To those who have had negative experiences with their fathers, forgiveness is the best way to respond to him. You may think you need to hate him, that there is no other way to treat him. You must first be hate-filled, in order to hate. If that is your experience, then you would naturally, at times unwittingly and unintentionally pass on that to people you think you love. I say think because I’ve come to learn that love and hate cannot occupy the same space. Its like light and darkness, wherever one is, the other has to disappear. Today the call is to love up our fathers, no matter who they are.

It’s time once more, for men to define the meaning of being a father.

What are your toughs on fathers – your father? Feel free to share and or comment in the space provided below.

18 comments

  1. Grace Paul - Reply

    This is awesome. Every father or potential father should read this. Job well done. I love it.

    • Russiossi - Reply

      Thank you Grace. I know that for each person there would be a different story about how their fathers affected them. Some would be positive, and sadly, there would be those who had/have negative experiences. We can learn from each other.

  2. Stephanie - Reply

    Your father must be really proud of the man he helped raise. It’s wonderful to read things like this that gives everyone else some type of hope that there are still good men out there. Sadly, my father was never in my life during my childhood, neither was my mother. Growing up in foster care really opens up your eyes to a whole new world of what being a parent is. Nowadays, society has been praising men for being fathers when that’s basically their role in a child’s life. Women are seen as the ones who have to take care of the child but when a man does it suddenly he’s the greatest father. We should be teaching the younger generation what equality is. Fathers don’t need to be blood related to be their for their kids. Words come and go, but actions, they’re the ones that count. 

    • Russiossi - Reply

      I couldn’t agree with you more Stephanie. It always saddens me to meet and see children who do not even know who their fathers are. It says that there is a gap in the training of our young boys and men. They are seldom taught from early that they have a responsibility to the children they father. At the same time, mothers let them get away with it by not insisting that they parent their child/children. And I’m not speaking about financially here. Men need to know that fatherhood is not just about impregnating a woman and giving her money to feed and clothe the child. He needs their positive presence in their life. 

  3. Fran - Reply

    Your father was obviously an excellent man.  I envy you, as my father was not a good one.  As hard as he worked, your father still cherished his family and made some time for them.  You have obviously learned some fine things growing up, with such a family.  Cherish those memories, as I can tell you do by reading your post.

    Your father provides a great example of what a father should be, and I thank you for sharing your story.

    • Russiossi - Reply

      He certainly was Fran. I thank God that in his own quiet way he taught me how to be a man. It is sad that so many people suffer for the want of a good father and or role model. But you seem to have done well in spite of that draw back. I congratulate you for having risen above the challenge.

      I am thankful that I could share.

  4. Pilah - Reply

    I wish this can come to the ears of everyey men or father out there. I can relate, growing up without a father gives you different experience but I’m glad it was a good one for me or at least I think it was. I never felt like an orphan because I grew up living with my Aunt as my mother left me at four years of age and I thought my father died before I was born.

    I just learnt about two months ago that my father never showed up and my mother never mentioned him as a result no one knows about him. My Aunt decided to tell me because I kept asking about him and I totally understand cause I’m older now and I believe they kept it a secret to protect me. I’ll be brief because I don’t think I dealt with it properly, I neglected it because I’m totally satisfied with the way she raised me.

    I’m not sure if my negligence helps though cause the role of the father can’t be compared but I think indeed forgiveness heals and we’ve to learn that as our fathers’ children.

    • Russiossi - Reply

      As I work with children and adults who do not know or hardly know their father, I see more clearly every day that the father’s role cannot be replaced. Mothers and other relatives do their best and that cannot be discounted. But an absent father leaves a large hole in the life of his child. It is my hope that men will consider well their responsibility before engaging in activities that will result in a child.

  5. phillip - Reply

    Not very many set of people actually appreciates the fact that knowing about being a father is a lot more than just siring kids. I actually like how you have given the full details about your father and what you have learnt from him. He is really the perfect definition of a father and I an glad that I get to meet him here.
    thank you so much for sharing here

    • Russiossi - Reply

      I am delighted that I got the opportunity to share him here. He was indeed unique and a man of thought and direction. I hope that as others come across this post and read it, they too will be inspired to be fathers that will benefit their children and so the society.

  6. BeyondCol - Reply

    I must say you’ve gathered a lot of courage to put this amazing article together and I’m sorry about your dad, you must really miss him. Well, I can tell how hard it can be sometimes to out others before your and I can also tell how fulfilling and happy you feel to have served your responsibility rightly. I’ve been inspired by your words, learned too, I’m hoping to be a better dad to my children.

    • Russiossi - Reply

      Ever so often he comes to my mind. The memories are fund ones and if my children are around I share those memories with them. I am thankful to God that they had the opportunity of knowing him, so with some things they can relate. I don’t feel too sad that he is no longer here though, because according to my spiritual belief, I have the hope to see him again when Christ comes the second time. I am glad that you have been inspired.

  7. Md. Asraful Islam - Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing with us a beautiful and informative article. The main content of this article is The Meaning Of Being Father. It is truly remarkable that you have presented this topic so well in your article. I have learned a lot by reading your article and gained a lot of knowledge about it. Of the points mentioned in your article, I like How Dada taught us.I have always tried to follow my father’s ideals because I loved my parents very much since childhood. Dad taught me everything with a pen in hand for which there is no comparison to Dad.
    Finally, I enjoyed reading your article and enjoyed it so I’d like to share your article in my Facebook group if you give me permission.

    • Russiossi - Reply

      I am glad to hear that you enjoyed reading my article Ashraful. That was the intent and to give encouragement to all men that they can continue to make valuable contributions to the lives of their children. It is also good to know that your dad has taken the time to influence you correctly too. 

      You have my permission to share my article with your Facebook group. That way other may be helped. Thank you.

  8. abdul - Reply

    That was unexpectedly beautiful, im close to tears myself!

    We never really realize how important our fathers are until we grow up and become a father ourselves. This is a very important lesson not only for parents but for boys who will one day grow up to be men. You need to value and love your family above everything else, above work, above friends, everything. If you dont have a happy family, whats the whole point? 

    • Russiossi - Reply

      You said it so profoundly Abdul. There are so many things that my father taught me quietly. Many i could not and did not understand until I had my own children. I have come to love him more for that.

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