In a poignant essay about her own family, Clutch magazine's Janelle Harris encourages all of us to spend time with — and celebrate — our elders.
I belong to that unfortunate fraternity of dismissed children whose fathers couldn't be bothered to be daddies. I never laid eyes on that paternal mystery and, to my knowledge, he's never expressed a desire to lay eyes on me. Once, not too long ago, his name popped up as a suggested friend on Facebook and I was so caught off guard, my beloved laptop went toppling to the floor. He is an enigma. But I never felt like I was missing out on anything because my grandfather, just by being himself, showed me what I should and could expect from a man. He is the standard by which I measure the dudes I consider dating, though that is an increasingly difficult comparison to make.
The memories closest to my heart about Granddaddy paint a picture of his awesomeness, even for a perfect stranger. He dutifully monitored my first wobbly efforts to pedal my two-wheeler, even after I careened over the poor man's foot, little-girl-shrieked all in his ears and made him jog with one hand under the banana seat for my own comfort and security. He built me my very own swing, dangling from a favorite tree in that massive yard, and crafted a dollhouse for me that was an almost exact replica of the very one he'd constructed from the ground up decades before.
We danced to Charlie Parker in the dining room and watched boxing side-by-side on Saturday nights. I spent every weekend with my grandparents. Every single weekend. But I never minded. That's how amazing they were, so amazing that a kid would give up sleepovers and school dances in the heart of the city to hang out with two old folks in the crux of the countryside.
Read Janelle Harris' entire piece at Clutch magazine.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.