The Gift Of Fathering: You Gave Me Time

Jun 17, 2021 at 08:00 am by Paulette Jackson

You know I hate to talk about this subject 

But for some reason, 
it's been heavy on your mind 
How you've lived your life 
and all that you made of it 
You say you're sorry that you don't have more
that you will leave behind

Oh, you know I wish that you'd just live forever

And you could spend up all the money that you've saved
And we could just keep doin' things together
The most important thing I need
you already gave

You gave me you
You gave me time
You helped me understand this life that I call mine
You don't have to leave a fortune behind
you gave me time

~Paul Overstreet

Fatherhood: It is a most valuable, virtually irreplaceable role in every child’s life, and one significantly influencing their development.

As pillars in the shaping of a child’s emotional well-being, fathers are the ones children naturally look to with trust and love, for setting an example and offering guidance regarding how to interact with life. Children also look to their fathers for physical and emotional security. And since they naturally admire their father, wanting to make them proud, a thoughtful, caring dad will work hard to make sure their child feels safe and secure.

Additionally, studies have shown that children who have affectionate and supportive fathers, demonstrate stronger cognitive and social development, instilling an overall sense of well-being, self-confidence and security.

And although some parents may unknowingly confuse instilling love, trust and security with catering to their children's wants and wishes, it is important to recognize that love, trust and security are valuable and best fostered in a home with caring parents.

While we generally understand fatherhood as a biological relationship or an adoptive relationship, there are many individuals who, perhaps not having a biological or adoptive father, may seek a relationship bond with a father figure. It may be a relative, a mentor or a respected member within a community. And these father figures can become integral caring relationships, offering similar support as a father, giving guidance and mentoring.

One of the most recognized father figures, from a historical, cultural and social perspective, is that of Booker T. Washington. Never having thought he had done enough in the world to warrant writing an autobiography, he hoped that his life's work, lied more in the future than the past.

But, it was his daughter, who encouraged him, when she asked, "Papa, do you know that you have never told me much about your early life, and your children want to know more about you?"

So for the sake of his family, he decided to put something about his life in writing.

Born in 1858 or 1859 in Franklin City, Virginia, he lived in a cabin until freedom came. The cabin was small, with only dirt floors and no windows. The family slept on the dirt floors, and their beds consisted of a few rags, scattered here and there. Booker's clothing, until her was five or six, was, a dress. And it wasn't until after the War of the Rebellion, in 1860 and 1865, that Booker received his first pair or shoes.

Booker never realized he was a slave, until he was awakened one night by his mother, Jane, as he slept on his bed of rags on the clay floor of their cabin. He heard his mother praying as she knelt over him, that someday, she and her children would be ... free.

To Booker, his mother was the noblest embodiment of womanhood he had ever known. She instilled in him lessons of virtue and thrift, during a short period time.

It was just a short time later that the war came to a close. Word was sent to all the slave cabins to come to the "big house" where a reading of some papers and a little speech, stated that the slaves were free.

While the relief of freedom was finally bestowed, finding new employment and getting the "hang" of new life, was felt by the slaves, to be a tremendous responsibility.

Parting from the old homestead was difficult, and relocating to West Virginia, was the place they could go, that offered work in salt furnaces and coal mines. But it was in these coal mines, that Booker, found ambition to learn to read from watching a number of "colored" people reading the newspaper. And as time went on, Booker was able to attend a public school half of the day, while performing as much work as possible before school.

When Booker began school, he experienced for the first time, the teacher calling roll. In hearing the roll called, Booker realized that each student had two names - a given name, and a surname. But Booker had only a given name. So he told his teacher to put his name down as "Booker Washington", and that is the name he kept for the rest of his life.

Over the next several years, Booker's development and education taught him habits of valuable work; of cleanliness, neatness, honesty and punctuality, which he continued to accomplish, resulting in doors opening for him to be accepted to the Hampton Institute in 1872.

The journey to the Institute was a long one, arriving by railroad. When he got there, he was hungry and exhausted, and the only place he found to sleep was under a sidewalk. Waking the next morning, he was hungrier. Seeing ships docked, not far from where he spent the night, he went to one of the ships, found the Captain and asked if he could be to permitted to work to get some money for food. The Captain gave him work, and Booker was able to buy a little food.

Finally making his way to the Hampton Institute, he was met by the principal. He was interviewed and assigned a room - which was a "sight for sore eyes", as he had not slept in a bed since he left Virginia.

The Hampton Institute allowed Booker to meet the Principal, General Armstrong, and make an impression. The General, who was a man of physical, mental and spiritual qualities, inspired Booker. Booker also held an indebtedness to two teachers at Hampton who, lovingly and understandingly, mentored him in the Bible, which he found most valuable.

Booker went on to be an educator with the Tuskegee Institute, bringing a way of life, work, respect and achievement to the black race with morals and ethics, valuable to all races.

Years later, Booker T. Wahington stated, that he didn't not envy the white boy as he once did. He learned that success is to be measured, not so much as, by the position that one has reached in life, but as by the obstacles which one has overcome, while trying to succeed.

From this standpoint, he almost reached the conclusion that, the Negro boy's birth and connection with an unpopular race, is an advantage - so far as real life is concerned, as we can understand in the following quote:

 "With few exception, the Negro youth must work harder and perform his tasks even better than the white youth, in order to achieve recognition. But of the hard and unusual struggle through which he is compelled to pass, he gets a strength, a confidence that one misses, whose path is comparatively smooth, by reason of birth of race."

Booker T. Washington was a role model for many young men. His heart and willingness to honor his life, his family, his teachers, his superiors, his faith and to see his way through his struggles as a path to success and achievement, and to teach others, was and is a fatherly inspiration for generations to come. And yes, he gave his time.

With thanks and gratitude to all fathers who work hard to do their best for their children: You are worthy of love, praise and gratitude for all that you bring into the lives of your families: Loving and spending time together, helping your children to understand this life that we call "mine", and most of all, giving your children ... you.

With tremendous gratitude to my step-father, who gave me time, instruction, perspectives on life, and the gift of playfulness and humor, and my husband, and love of my life, who continues to be a present and loving dad to our children, for which I am forever thankful.

Wishing joy to all of the Father's on this special day, and to the families that love them.

- Paulette Jackson lpc-mhsp



The thoughts and expressions shared are those belonging to Paulette Jackson lpc-mhsp and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person or professional.

Credit: The book, The Story of My Life and Work by Booker T. Washington was published in 1900 and is available on Amazon

Photo credit: #RGST Teacherslounge