While I like the music, I’m not much in the hip-hop world. (Actually, I tend to be in the “changing diapers, carting kids to summer activities, trying to work 15 hours, and never having time to listen to music” camp.)
I have always loved, however, the way hip-hop, like the blues, leans toward the prophetic, speaking truth in the midst of injustice and suffering.
Enter Don Trip, a recently discovered hip-hop artist, whose “Letter to My Son” has not only rocketed him to stardom, but has shed light on the much too unknown plague of children’s mothers who keep them from seeing their father. After DJ Orlando of Wild FM played Trip’s song early Thursday morning, it was epidemic; tweets, emails and phone calls overwhelmed the DJ and his team as weepy young men spoke of how Trip’s song named who they were: Fathers who wanted nothing more than to be with their children but were prevented due to circumstances out of their control.
Putting all cynicism aside regarding the rampant commercialization of the day, Father’s Day for most is a day to honor fatherhood and male parenting. As Trip’s song reminds us, however, the day can also be a painful memory of childhoods shattered and dreams unfilled. As further testament, one needs to look no further than the birth narrative of Father’s Day, which started in Fairmont, W.Va., in 1908 as way to commemorate 210 fathers who lost their lives in the Monongah Mining incident only a few months earlier.
My own father left my family when I was 4 years old, soon after my1-year-old brother was diagnosed withcystic fibrosis. My father said he didn’t want the responsibility, but his timing could have been better. We’ve since developed a relationship, but it’s my mother I think of first when this holiday approaches.
Although my childhood memories are shrouded in adventure, laughter and love, I know we struggled. I remember my mom not eating so we could. I remember her presenting hand-me-down clothes from neighbors as if my own personal stylist had selected them. So often in the midst of craziness, I stop and remember how she parented us with fierceness, gracefulness, faith, and with a even a good sense of humor.
And so on this Father’s Day I give thanks.
I give thanks for fathers who want nothing more than to be with their children. I give thanks for moms who have to be both mother and father. I give thanks for grandparents, aunts and uncles who provide us with care. I give thanks for step-fathers who raise and love us as their own. I give thanks to men who were never able to have their own children, but who have loved us with abandon.
On this Father’s Day, let us remember those who have loved us as their own and be ever grateful.
Rev. Tricia Dillon Thomas, is associate pastor for Youth and Their Families, Peace Presbyterian Church, 10902 Technology Terrrace, Lakewood Ranch.