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Dear Papa,

First, let me say thank you. Thank you for being my first example of what it looks like when a man unconditionally loves a woman. Thank you for sticking around although society said it was okay to run. I know that you and mommy got married fairly young and now that I am of age I can only imagine that hardships that you two must’ve encountered being a young couple and new parents. According to society it is   almost a natural occurrence for young black males to succumb to the pressures of life and walk out on his family. You, however, proved society wrong because you stuck around. Good times, bad times, happy times, sad times, up times, down times you were there. Growing up I didn’t always understand your reasoning behind some of the things that you did, but even when I would loudly object deep down inside I knew that someway, somehow it was for my own good. I blindly felt my way through some of the life lessons that you taught me, some lessons that only a father could. I would grin widely during the times when I caught on to the lessons and pout sourly when I didn’t. Boy, did I know how to pout, especially when things didn’t go my way. I was never really fond of the word “no” but there was something about the way that you said no that used to shatter my little heart into a million pieces. I’d fold my arms, poke out my bottom lip, and storm away. I eventually graduated from pouting and folded arms to eye rolling and foot stomping, but through it all you never budged. Simply put, your yes meant YES and your no meant NO, there was no debate necessary. But, guess what Daddy?! I’m not mad anymore! No more pouting lips, folded arms, stopping feet or rolled eyes,I get it now. Thank you for not allowing me to self-destruct just to put a smile on my face. There was a method to your madness, an intended lesson that helped mold me into the young woman I am today. I now understand why you would not let me leave the pool until I jumped off of the diving board that day. You were teaching me to overcome my fears. Daddy, I get why you would put me back on that bike over and over again until I got it, no matter how many times I fell off and wanted to give up. You were teaching me perseverance. People thought you were crazy because by two years old you had taught me to sing “Say It Loud- I’m Black And I’m Proud” and although it was probably a hilarious sight to see, somewhere in there I learned to love and embrace my heritage, something that some adults still have a hard time doing. I understand why one day in the midst of one of our arguments you shouted at the top of your lungs “It’s my job to protect your virginity,” even though in that moment I rolled my eyes and walked away with my blood boiling, thinking that you were a total nutcase. But, I get it now, you weren’t crazy. You were just doing your job.

I now appreciate you telling me “absolutely not” when at 19 years old I called myself bringing home a 28 year old man to you and calling him my “boyfriend”. Between me and you Daddy, that was pretty outrageous. I could probably go on and on, we have stories for days, but the point of this letter is to say thank you for doing what you had to do. Thank you for those nights where you stayed up with me until the wee hours of the morning as I wrote my term papers. Thank you for staying up with me and nursing me back to health during those sleepless nights where I was plagued with those bad colds. Thank you for those nights where you would walk into my room just to make sure that I was breathing. Thank you for being the glue that pieced my broken heart back together.

I fondly look back on our memories together and I can’t help but smile. I look forward to making many more memories together. I look forward to you walking me down the isle on my wedding day. I look forward to seeing you bounce my first child on your knee. I look forward to the day that I can pay you and mommy back for all that you have invested and instilled in me. I know I can be an extreme drama queen, but you never gave up on me. It is my sincere prayer that one day when I have a little girl she is lucky enough to be blessed with a father as dedicated, attentive, and supportive as you.

Jazmine Denise is a New York City based Lifestyle&Relationship writer. Follow her on Twitter @jazminedenise.


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