A police officer left a pink notice taped to the door of my grandmother’s house, it read,
“Robert L. Singleton was shot and killed yesterday, date, time, etc.”
My father was shot and killed when I was about 5 years old. There was no officer present to hug my relatives, no passing of a folded flag, just a pink notice taped to my grandmother’s front door.
My mom and I stayed in the East Falls projects in Philadelphia, PA. My father’s death was a catalyst for everyone stepping in to assist with my upbringing. I didn’t miss anything regarding my; instruction, examples, maturity and my well-being. There were dominate roles of masculinity that I identified and embodied. While I didn’t have a “father” around because of his death, I had all the examples of fatherhood all around me. My father wasn’t breaking the law, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and got shot by a police officer. In 1975, police sensitivity wasn’t an understood term, class or even a thought, especially regarding lives of black men. Interesting I guess in 2014 it’s much the same but I digress. I only have one memory of my father on or around Christmas. My mother was on his lap and they were laughing at me. I was playing with a colored wheel that turned and changed the color of the apartment interior.
I didn’t know my father’s side of the family until I was about 13 years old. My uncle Greg showed up at my mom’s house on Clearfield Street. I asked him, “Are you my father?” He laughed and said, “No” I guess I had been watching too many after school specials and he looked just like the only picture I had of my father. I thought he was my father come back into my life, dumb. I said I was 13 right. It’s weird because when my father was killed, my uncle Greg was the person that first saw the pink notice taped to the door.
I didn’t miss my father, I never knew him to miss him. My father’s absence wasn’t felt because I had so many strong examples of how to be a man in my life. I had my uncle Rusty and my uncle Greg that were the cornerstones of my masculinity. I had other uncles but these two were and are the men that helped define me. My grandfather was the patriarch of the family and he set the foundation but these two are the masons for the mortar. I see so much of them in me.
Throughout my life, I was taught to be a man.
Whether it was women, men, uncles, friends, I was taught at an early age to always work on being a better man. Growing up it’s easy to see the easy way out and take that route. I’m here to tell you, that’s nonsense, the easy way out doesn’t help you become a man. Try to do the right thing, be responsible, tell the truth, stay out of trouble and define yourself by learning from the good examples around you. I learned early, watch people who are smart, positive, and good…then copy them! Success at anything you do will come if you start with being positive and doing good.
I’m not a father but the last single purpose left in my life is to be a husband and father. Most of my closest friends share the same goal as I. My friends have children and I see the change in them through that blessing. One of my closest friends, Derrick continually says, “I want that for you man, you deserve it.” He has three now, two of them are my God-children.
Most, if not, all of us were raised without fathers and we had this aligned goal of never fathering a child without being present in that child’s life. I see it in all my friends as fathers, subtle and overwhelming, serious and hilarious. One time I was talking to my friend Terry and he tells me to hold on, then I hear him and his daughter, Autumn say “Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!!”. He does this thing with letting the car drift on a certain block with a big hill. It’s hilarious to envision this 6’1′ dude being a big kid with his daughter.
Seeing Luke leading the Halloween parade and hearing the pride of Lydell, his father are those moments that best capture fatherhood.
It fills me with envy and happiness at the same time.
There are no thugs in these pictures, no criminals, no drug dealers, no dead beat dads, and no “baby daddy’s”. Yes, there are some men that are not married to the mothers of their children but they are NOT baby daddys. Baby daddy are these guys that I classify as the guy that inseminates a woman(gets her pregnant), and leaves her to raise a child on her own, unassisted. The men in these pictures, ALL these pictures, are fathers that are involved with their children lives. Fathers; visit with teachers, help with homework, attend college tours, share custody, take them on proms, give them birthday parties, take them to college and attend parent teacher conferences. These men made good choices as young men and have the ability to be leaders of their families.
I just visited my “brother” Tracey, yesterday, who has a 6 week old. I arranged to stop over to buy books from his entertainment company, LLeft. I really wanted to see the new addition to the family, his newborn, Tanner. I spent the last 6 weeks sharing the joy of their newborn through he and his wife’s, Facebook posts. Tanner is the reason I wrote the three blogs about family, brotherhood and fatherhood. It inspired me to write about these core things in my life. So this is dedicated the “heiress” Tanner Lorin Lee and to that moment that a man becomes a father and he no longer lives selfishly. He lives to raise a child to be better than him. The act of pouring everything you are into this little person that you created.
Yesterday I asked Tracey “What does it feel like to be a father? What word would you use to describe the feeling?”
He simply stated it’s “unimaginable, euphoric”.
“Children are one-third of our population and all of our future.”
~Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981
“Children are our most valuable resource.”
-Herbert Hoover, 31st U.S. president
― Robert A. Heinlein