By Harry C. Alford
This is indeed a very rough world to raise a child in, no matter who you are or where you are. For a Black man to raise a Black son the odds may be stacked against you. For a Black woman to raise a Black son the odds may be impossible. We proudly take this challenge. For those of us who choose a marriage and then children, the odds are on your side if the marriage remains intact. As Marvin Gaye and Mary Wells sang “It takes two to make a dream come true.” This year for Father’s Day my 32-year-old son, Harry III, gave me the greatest card I have ever received. Here it is:
“Two years ago, my dad was fighting for his life. Harry Jr., a veteran and successful entrepreneur idealized for courage, was laid up in bed at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, MD with a subdural hematoma. Turned out that a small spill he had at home a month prior turned into a serious situation.
He hit his head after tripping and it slowly turned into a subtle leak of blood between his brain and his skull. Luckily, my mom noticed him off-balance the morning before a 12-hour flight to the Seychelles for business. She immediately drove him to the doctor. The doctor suggested a routine CT scan and it wasn’t even an hour later that he recommended emergency surgery. Had my dad flown, the pressure in his head would have killed him. After weeks of cognitive and physical therapy, my dad eventually recovered and is back to his usual self. I’ll never forget the strength my mother exhibited during those four long days we spent in the hospital post-surgery.
A few years later, it’s still so fresh. I think about how close our family was to losing our hero. It was this scary experience that’s led me to appreciate every moment I have with him and take advantage of every opportunity to make him proud. There is an old Yiddish proverb that says: “When a father gives to his son, both laugh. When a son gives to his father, both cry.”
There are various interpretations of the proverb’s meaning, but to me it holds significant importance and is now ingrained into my daily life. Gifts from my parents were met with joy and gratitude as a child. Now older, appreciation of the sacrifices made by my parents brings us both to tears. I measure success every time I bring my dad to tears. Looking back over the past year, I can recount a few times he’s wept in joy in relation to something I’ve completed successfully:
- Proposing to my girlfriend (now wife)
- Graduating from B-School (MBA Babson College)
- Getting married
- Launching a new business
- My brother (Thomas) graduating from B-School (MBA John Hopkins University)
Each of these moments represented another step in my development as a man, entrepreneur, and husband. My dad’s been with me every step of the way. I can only imagine the satisfaction derived from his own sons’ achievements. And that is why I’m eagerly waiting for the next chance to make my dad cry.
Happy Father’s Day to Harry Jr. and all the other dads out there!!!
As I read the above, once again, he had me crying with pride and joy. God has blessed us with twin sons who have developed into strong and wise men. It wasn’t easy but the love that Kay and I give to each other and together the love we give to our sons has made the journey quite successful. The most important decision one can make is to be certain your love partner will be with you together throughout the growing period for your children. From the maternity room to the wedding aisle a child should have the presence of both mother and father.
People must be very careful in choosing a spouse. The marriage should be unconditional, for better or worse. That can be very challenging and it is a one strike “ball game.” You are going for a lifetime of bliss, which is a very hard thing to attain. Be certain when you choose that partner. Make sure he or she is going to add to your “being,” not take anything away. Likewise, you make sure to add to his or her being. A lifetime with the same person is success. Otherwise it becomes a failure. A failure you must live with your entire life.
Here’s to all those “love birds.” The future is yours, and never forget who took you to the “dance.” Love them forever and stay with him or her forever. Never say goodbye.
Mr. Alford is the co–founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org Email: [email protected].