You would be 58 years old today. I’m pretty sure that if you were here, you’d complain about how no one is doing anything for you today. If you didn’t do that, you would downplay the day by saying something about how you never thought you’d see the day, but it’s just another day. If people gave you gifts, you’d fake complain about how nobody has to get you anything, while eagerly tearing away wrapping and tissue paper to see what it was. And as if that wasn’t funny enough, you’d then go on to complain about all the gifts you didn’t get. It’s those little quirks of yours that I miss the most. I’m missing you today — not simply because it’s your birthday. Though days like your birthday seem to make my heart ache just a wee bit more. I’m missing you because days like today are reminders of your absence. Not that I don’t get reminders every day. But hallmark celebrations just seem to ring louder.
I used to say that no one loved the sound of your voice more than you. You could go on and on and on; and I’d be thinking “Man, he’s STILL talking!” But you know what? I miss your voice most of all. And I miss your eyes. Man, your eyes! They were so big and seemed to see straight through me. You could send me into a crying fit with just one look. Now I just wish I could stare at them one more time. But I guess I can. ‘Cause when I look in the mirror all I see is you. It’s actually the reason I couldn’t look in a mirror for 6 months after you left. And to think I used to say I never wanted to be anything like you! I didn’t know how to say it then, but today I can. What the tears never said, what my insistence that we were nothing alike said, is that deep down I always wanted to be like you. But I never thought I could be. I mean, how could I be like you?
You were magnificent. You were splendid, regal and majestic! You walked into a room and commanded attention without saying a word. You mesmerized everyone when you spoke. You were bold — fearless even. How could I ever be any of that? You dared to dream and then had the audacity to make your dream come true. Man, I wished I could be like you! Today, I know that I am. I know today that we were mirror images–physically and more. And to think, in my childish ignorance, I sometimes thought you didn’t like me and we weren’t close because Lord knows we didn’t always agree and you could be SO HARD on me. I know today that in those times, you were protecting me. You were guiding me, doing your best to make me strong. I also know that sometimes you would look at me and see your mom and yourself; so you were reacting to the parts of you that you hadn’t quite dealt with. I can’t tell you how humbling it is to know that even though you were my greatest teacher, I also served as one of yours. And now, I sense how you felt because I have your granddaughter and she is another reflection of us. I see so much of you and sometimes it hurts so much to know that she doesn’t get to experience you for herself. But I do my best to keep you alive for her. We talk about you. We talk to you. But most of all, we love and miss you.
People love to ask me if I’m proud of you. The answer is yes. I am so proud of you…and I’m so proud of you. I know that for the ones who ask, the question is rooted in your celebrity. But my answer is not. My answer lies solely in the fact that you were an amazing man. I’m proud that without having a clue, you took on the role of husband and father at the tender age of 19. I’m proud that you answered the call on your life to follow your purpose of making others laugh; to pursue your dream, instead of allowing it to die inside of you. I’m proud that you instilled values like integrity, honesty, moral character, and compassion in me. I’m just proud that your intention was to lead me to be better than you. You laid a wonderful path down for me and I am beyond grateful for that.
So, I thank you Daddy. I thank you for your love. I thank you for your guidance. I thank you for the lessons and the laughs. I thank you for the loving reminders that you send me from beyond. Whenever I feel like you’re far away, you send me a sign or come to me in a dream to let me know you’re still with me. And I know that ain’t nothing but the love of my Big Black Man.
No need to ask me “Who Ya Wit?” The answer will forever be that I am with you.