Today is my daddy’s birthday. When I was a kid, this morning was the morning I would be most certain I would get a card and gift from my Daddy. He believed in celebrating us on his special day, as if, us being a part of his life was what made it special.
As a kid, I didn’t necessarily understand. But there was a lot I didn’t understand then, so that’s not really saying anything.
But I learned (and am still learning) so much from my dad. His name is Leroy Wright. I write about him in my book Growing Up Wright and I don’t want to say the same things here that I did in the book but I spent the first 25 years of my life with my dad so I have much more to say than a chapter in a book.
My dad is a complex man. He is funny and gregarious and extroverted. He could hold court or entertain a houseful of friends and family for an entire weekend, without a dull moment. But he is also quiet and pensive and can sit for hours with a Math book or newspaper, or listening to the radio on a Sunday evening. He loves that program where people call in trying to find lost friends and family members, not because he is expecting someone to look for him, but because he loves people and connecting with people. So I suppose even in his alone time, he is a people-person.
His friends spans generations and not just parishes or countries but continents. Even living here in the United States for the past 12 years and meeting people from such different levels of society, I have never known anyone who could make friends as easily as my dad. When I was growing up, I often wondered where he met some of these people and what they brought to his life, but in recent times, I have discovered that it wasn’t always what they brought to his life, but what he hoped he could bring to theirs.
I remember a trip we took once to visit some of my dad’s friends in Trelawny. On our way, we were driving through one of those little communities where the square is two shops on opposite sides of the road, facing each other. And although my dad had not been to this community for years, as he drove the car along, someone shouted “Mr. Wright” as though he had been expecting him. He hadn’t. But that’s the kind of guy that my dad is. He makes friends all over and they never forget him. And he treats them all well, from the guy who weeds his lettuce garden to the man who fixed the roof to the person who sits next to him at Lions Club meeting, they all get gifts of food or drink or the joy of his company and they all leave feeling special.
My parents are human. My mom and my dad are not perfect creatures, although I often marvel at their superior strengths. But they are just humans, two humans who love each other, who decided 43 years ago to get married and build a life together. And although many have made similar promises to each other, my parents have managed to do it. They have stood by each other through the years. And I honor my dad for being the man who stands by my mother and who supports her and loves her and shows us, me and all the others who look on, what a real husband should do.
When I was a kid, my mom always kept me close. The first night I spent away from my mom, I was 12 years old and she was away at a teacher’s conference in St. Ann. And although she was only gone for a few days, I remember my dad packing a little care package with the cookies and chocolates my mom liked and sending it to her. Because when you love someone, you let them know.
So that’s why today, I am using my blog to say a big Happy Birthday to the man in my life, my dad, Mr Leroy Wright, the first man in my life, the best man in my life, the man by whom all other men are measured, the man who has been married to my mother for the past 43 years and still goes on dates with her, the man who supports my decisions and my dreams, and inspires me and loves me, the man who teaches and farms and gives, and speaks and motivates and loves.
I pray God will continue to bless him with good health and a long, rewarding life.
I love you, daddy. Happy birthday!