father's day



by Gary Hartfield

Thinking back to my time as a teenage father, I had no clue what an awesome responsibility awaited me. I was just a child myself. I remember looking at my daughter and thinking how beautiful she was and at the same time being scared to hold her. I had no means to provide for her. However, her mother and I had a great support system. My daughter’s maternal grandmother and my mother stepped in and helped guide her mother and me until we could take the reins ourselves.

father's dayWithout forcing the issue of responsibility, my mother quietly and gently guided me into fatherhood. For instance, my mother would pick up my daughter and bring her back to our house and randomly ask me to hold her while she prepared a bottle or performed some other odd task. I remember looking into my daughter’s eyes and seeing her unconditional love for me even though I was not yet fully able to provide for her. My soul would cry out to be able to grow up and be a good provider, a good protector, and a good daddy to her.
As noted in my book, STAND, her mother and I worked together to give her a good foundation. Our daughter is a graduate of my alma mater, Florida A&M University and is currently employed as an educator and is doing well.

My second time becoming a father was different. I was wiser, older, and married. Because I had a daily presence and I had started a career, I was in a position to embrace my role as a father. As a result, my relationship with my youngest daughter was special from birth. At 2 years of age, she would wake up at 2:00 a.m., scribble on the walls downstairs, and then make her way back to bed upstairs. We would wake up in the mornings trying to figure out who was drawing on the walls. It was hilarious. She is our renaissance woman. She plays the viola. She’s a rising star in volleyball and an excellent student

My third time becoming a father was even easier to embrace. This time, I became a father to a son. My son is an identical replica of me, physically and behaviorally. As the leader of my family unit, he watches my every move and mimics me. Even at his young age, his intelligence and ability to reason are amazing. He is a young warrior and leader.

I am proud of all my children. As a father, I have an innate desire to provide, protect, and guide my children. I love them from a place that knows no limits and it is not rational. I believe that the love that a father has for his children is an earthly representation of Agape love, the highest form of love.

As I work to leave an honorable legacy, I recognize that an essential part of that will be the candle that I light in my children. I hope that the light that will endure in them represents charity, perseverance, honor, and faith.