I seriously thought my dad was famous when I was kid. When I was with him, it seemed like everywhere we went, everybody knew him. Hell, when I traveled the city alone, everyone told me how much I looked my dad. Can you imagine teachers and coaches, the lady in bank, the mother (and father) of a girl you're dating all see your dad first when they look at you? I watched other kids light up when my dad came around, his energy instantly picks up any room he enters and there were many young men in whose lives he became actively involved. I don’t have the best father. I don’t have the worst father. I have my father and I’m thankful for who he’s been to me and others over the course of my nearly 35 years.
Of course there are times when I’ve wanted him to be like fathers I saw in my neighborhood or even on TV, but that wasn’t him and it wasn’t us. Thank God, because had he been like James Evans, we would’ve been broke. Instead, I had to share my dad with the city we lived in, hundreds of other kids, the Mets, the Knicks and those damn 49ers! But you know what, it’s made me a better man; his life helped to shape many of my passions and discover worlds many don’t know exist. Whether it was free chicken at KFC, talking a security guard into letting us into the Niners’ locker room or sneaking behind the rope to introduce ourselves to Magic Johnson, it’s always an adventure with my dad.
My mother did a great job of never complaining or criticizing my dad and always stopped me short when I fixed my mouth to let my heart’s disappointment out. She constantly reminded me that he loved me and was always there when I needed him to be. I didn’t know the difference between needs and wants when it came to relationships back then; I had a stepfather who was involved in my life, my great-grandfather taught me lessons I could never apply in the way he did and countless teachers, coaches and mentors all supplied me with the tools necessary to have success in life. Perhaps my dad was too immature to be the father I wanted when I was kid and I was too selfish to understand that he needed to be who he was for so many others at the time.
Our relationship has undergone many transitions through the years, as we’ve adjusted to where we were as men at any given moment, but the love between the two of us never wavered. He was there when I needed to get to the emergency room after complications following surgery and kept talking through his fear as I lost a large amount of blood. He was there when a glitch in PSE&G’s billing left me in the dark on the 4th of July one year and his life has been a consistent reminder to enjoy everything we have. I try to imagine who I would be if I wasn’t my father’s son and it’s hard to fathom me without his influence. When I was little, my father was famous; as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized he’s just a man.
What more could I ask him to be?