Below is a post I wrote for #1000speak in April for that month’s topic “Nurturing”. I wrote about my good friend’s family. What occurred to me after reading my friend Alison’s Father’s Day tribute to her Poppy, was that this post was not only about nurturing but it was also a post about acceptance. What I neglected to mention in my original post, was the fact that Alison’s Poppy was white. Alison, her mother and brothers are black. I met Alison in elementary school and we became friends somewhere around the late 60’s/early 70’s. This was not the norm back in those days. I honestly don’t remember being surprised and if I was, it certainly did not last long enough for me to even remember or think about it. When I read Alison’s post I realized that is was entirely possible that their road together as a family may have not been easy back in those days. They may have faced obstacles and backlash from others. It really never occurred to me. I loved them for them and I suppose I assumed that everyone else did as well…. It certainly seemed that way to me.
Alison’s Father’s Day Tribute :
There was a man who gave his love to three children that were not his own. Though not of his own blood he shed blood, sweat and tears to make them feel loved despite not being their biological father. He was quite young when he took on this task but the age it didn’t matter. He stood up to the task until he went to be with the Lord. He dedicated his life to taking on the task of being a father. Not only did he become a father to these children but also loved their friends and treated them like family as well. Now when he became a father to these children, it was taboo because they were black and he was white.
I told this story for two reasons, one because what has been experienced recently in our country regarding racism and because I wanted to celebrate my Poppy, a white man who loved three black children and their mother and didn’t care who knew it. I honor my Poppy because he showed me that it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white.
Racism isn’t dead- it has been flying under the radar and now has reared it’s ugly head again. Poppy, I thank you for showing me that we can live in harmony and true love for one another. You were a perfect example to me that it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white it is truly the character of your heart! RIP and I miss you and love you even more!!!!” – Alison
This family and the relationship my friend had with her “Poppy” was the inspiration for the post below. I knew I would repost this post someday and I am happy to repost it now with the addition of her heartfelt and loving words for the man that meant so much to her and her family.
My friend Alison and I met in elementary school. We became fast friends and remain friends to this day. I loved everything about her, including her family. I spent so much time there, I’m sure they were afraid I would never go home. Especially in the summer. In the summertime there was more time to get there and home (it was a hike) because it stayed light out longer and the rule of “getting home before the streetlights came on” was not as impossible to adhere to. (Seriously…. how does one know when the streetlights are going to go on until they are on?)
Alison had a stepfather, his name was Tom. I also have a stepfather. This was not as common back then in the late 60’s/early 70’s as it is today. Maybe it was, but in my little world, I thought I was the only one until I met Alison.
I was always so in awe of this family and a little bit envious as well. Okay….. very envious! I wanted to live there…..
Tom would pull up on his motorcycle everyday after work and my friend and her brothers would greet him – they were happy to see him. This was just alien to me. He was happy to see them too, every single day! I was just puzzled, but impressed. From the outside looking in, one could just see how much they loved each other. This was amazing to me. I will say it again – I was in awe.
This man married a woman with three children (she is pretty amazing herself). He raised them. He treated them like his own. He loved them like his own and they loved him right back, just as much. Now, I am sure this happens but this certainly was not my experience in having a stepfather, and my experiences were all I had. I didn’t know it was or could be different.
Even as a kid I recognized that he was one of those special people who you’d be lucky to have in your life. I just always thought he was truly amazing and I still do.
Alison and her family moved away when I was 16. We’ve kept in touch over the years and I just went to attend her mother’s birthday party a few weeks ago. Tom has since passed. Each year when I see Alison’s post on the anniversary of his death I take the opportunity to remind her just how lucky she was to have had this man in her life. I know that she knows this, I know… but I just have to tell her, every year.
Just a few days ago I noticed her anniversary post:
Seven years ago today one of the most important men in my life went on to be with the Lord. My Poppy. I miss you every day, remember you and Love you more as the days go by. I will keep your memory alive in me until I see you face to face! Until then rest in peace…all my love!”
I never got back to the post to tell her once again, how lucky she was
-and what a wonderful man he was
-and how much of an impact their whole family had on me
– how they taught me that blood does not make a family and that some families really do care about one another.
So I am now…….
“Every voice matters – together we’re stronger – let’s BE the Village.
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