Sunday, June 20, 2010

Two fingers of Crown for Father’s Day

It's a tough day in BougieHousehold. I was (and still am) a daddy's girl. Doctor Bougie passed away in 2000 and Father's Day has been bittersweet ever since. Instead of going into a whole tribute (which could take weeks), I'll just say that as much as I adore my Mom, there was nothing like the unconditional love of my father. He was unequivocally my champion. He truly felt that we were the brightest bestest kids in the world and expected us to act accordingly. None of us lack for self-esteem, none of lack for brains, none of us lack for personality. That's genetics mixed with motivation and constant validation.

Frank was born on the edge of a sugar cane field in Georgetown, Guyana, South America. (Literally, we saw the shack) He was the youngest of fourteen. His father was a ship's captain who sailed over to Barbados, met a beautiful woman and married her. She became the cook for the King. Against all (unbelievable) odds, my father was the one that got out. He came over to America on a tiny ship, worked in the Tootsie Roll factory to save up money until he was accepted into Morgan State University on a tennis scholarship. He pledged Alpha Phi Alpha and was quite the player on campus. He and his friend from the homeland were known as the Guyanese Thieves because they stole so many hearts. The one woman who was about business and not paying him any mind was a serious accounting major who was pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha. This is how BougieMom and BougieDad met.

So there they were, a charismatic and ambitious man from Guyana with the easy smile and seriously studious Baltimore native with a sly wit and tinkling laugh. What they had in common? A deep respect for the purposes of education, an urgent desire to live better than their parents and conventional ethics. Somehow his West Indian sensibilities and her Southern code of values meshed. Unless they didn't. One day during their courtship, he decided that they were too much of a couple and he told Nellie he needed some space. She disappeared. If she saw him coming, she went the other way. It got to the point where he literally had to chase her down. They married two years later. He was brilliant to choose her.

They had four kids; I was the third of four, the youngest daughter. I was born three days after his birthday and he used to say that I was the best present he ever got. We were similar spirits. I have his stubborn streak and his ability to put strangers at ease in his presence. My older brother got his sense of humor, my older sister got the driving ambition, and my younger brother got the ability to turn a chicken-shiggity situation into chicken salad. But he gave all of us the belief that there's no such thing as falling down and staying down. He gave us the tools, the education and the confidence to take whatever life throws at us and keep it pushing.

He loved my Mom, he loved being a doctor, he loved being a father and wow did he love being a grandfather. He was strict as hell as a father, no man I ever dated was good enough, he wanted A's with bonus points and thought C's were for the lazy. The older I get the more of is stuff I seem to pick up. The cooking, the baking, the grilling, the cultivating roses, wanting fresh veggies, the love of Duke Ellington and the big band classics.. is it a matter of time before I'm swigging back two fingers of Crown Royal?

I feel blessed to have had him as a father. Happy Father's Day to all the current and future daddies out there. Respect to the good ones, it's a legacy absolutely irreplaceable. Lift them up and enjoy the day.

16 comments:

Cheri said...

Thanks Michelle. Probably telling on myself but you got my attention with the Crown Royal--used to be my drink of choice when I was a younger girl! My father is not alive either. He wasn't really part of my life either. I did get to meet him when I was about twenty. When I dropped out of college I spent about a year living with him in Chi-town. He was no doctor, though. Daddy was a bookmaker on the horses. He smoked weed--we smoked some together actually--and had no clue how to be a Dad. Daddy loved to talk and he loved Jazz. Big band, Monk, Coltrane, Miles, and on and on. Both of my boys are musicians--my youngest has his build too. Daddy never got to meet his grandsons. I can't say he was ever the typical "daddy", but he was my father--an incredibly intelligent, funny, handsome, brotha-man with plenty of swag, and Man, I miss him.

sunt97 said...

Nice tribute. Your story about your father is sweet.

Peace, Love and Chocolate
Tiffany

Sarah said...

Beautifully written and beautiful sentiment. I'm all teary-eyed. Losing those we love is hard no two ways about it. I still have both my parents, but live 1/2 way across the country from them.. I was thinking yesterday it is too bad tela-transport isn't a real thing and I couldn't beam myself out there to visit and give my Dad a hug.

Carolyn E. said...

Lovely tribute to your father. I've spent the morning in weepy remembrance of my own dearly departed dad.

tiffanyinhouston said...

Beautiful tribute. I am headed over to my folks house with my gift card in tow later on today. Thank God for good daddies!

BB Waite said...

From all accounts, your Father was the bomb. Wish I could've met him. Mine, God rest his soul, really tried. My husband on the other hand... as you say - I was brilliant to choose him. He is SuperDad and the kids know it.

datdudeincali said...

Woke up this morning to my daughter spilling a bowl of soggy cereal on my chest. My first Father's Day with custody - best day ever.

OneChele said...

Aw, enjoy your Father's Day!

Man's World said...

Shout out to my pops who believed that an ass-whippin' picked up where a stern talking to left off - HA! Coolest dude in the world

SBailey7 said...

Very sweet! What wonderful memories of your dad to cherish and always carry with you.

baileyqc said...

I love hearing stories like this. Hurray for the Dads that weren't perfect but did it right!

JaymeC said...

The only man my dad ever approved of was my husband and he gave him the side-eye until the day he passed away. He actually ran one off with a shotgun. Aw memories.

ecthompson said...

Well stated. Very well stated.

bougiesis said...

Exactly so.

Leon X said...

Great story. Big up to my island massive.

While I'm technically not a "dad" I helped to raise my niece and nephews. My sister and my nephew called me yesterday and my niece gave me a Father's Day shout out on Facebook. That was good enough for me.

Hidi said...

Happy Father's Day to all daddies in the world! :)

Your story was beautiful; my dad is a great dad. I am bless to have wonderful male figures in my life growing up (dad, uncles, grandpas). I have wonderful memories with my dad...learning to cook, building a bird house (small one), learning about different sea animals, etc. :)

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