Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Truth at Last

An excerpt from Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood

By Nichole Christian

Years after my daddy died, I finally laid down my superhero image of him too. Two decades after spreading his ashes, facts I’d never known about Daddy began to surface and collide with the fiction I had cherished as a child. It turns out Daddy was more human than I could ever see.

It’s funny to me now the way I once romanticized a man I knew so little about. And sometimes I cringe, thinking of the many nights, the many ways I prayed death upon my mother, while forgetting and forgiving Daddy, who’d gone AWOL first.

He had ducked out of their marriage not long after doing the honorable thing and marrying my pregnant mother. By the time I was fourteen, they were both dead, departing one after the other—first her (by a drug overdose), then him, with just nine months between them.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

About the Book and Prologue

About Dear Dad

This project was inspired by my essay for National Public Radio’s This I Believe series and is itself a compilation of true narratives written by a group of journalists and writers I assembled for this project. Men and women from various walks of life and various generations, they are black, white, and Hispanic. A good number of them have written for some of the nation’s best news organizations—the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Time magazine, and others. All of them write in the pages that follow about the impact of fathers, and fatherlessness, on their own lives. This comes at a time when the focus of a national initiative and even President Barack Obama have sounded the clarion call for responsible fatherhood amid a continuing crisis of paternal absenteeism.

Fatherhood is a subject that deserves our attention. A key component of that critical socializing agent known as family, “father” is important to us all.

So what better time than this—than now—to lend to and perhaps spur the national dialogue on fatherhood, to raise to the light images of the best of our fathers, and also examples of some failed or flawed fathers, with the hope that from each may be gleaned a more perfect model to which all fathers might aspire? And there seems no better way to examine fatherhood and to extract lessons from the past in the hope of creating a brighter future than to follow the reflective journeys of writers who remember their fathers lovingly, poignantly, vividly, at times longingly, even sometimes with disappointment.

Through the prism of our collective lens, these mini-memoirs recall time we spent with our fathers, or in some cases, the lack thereof. And each seeks to provide insights on the best of fathering, if not also hope for the millions of American children who today face growing up in homes with no father present.

Absent but Always Present

An excerpt from Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood

By Monica Fountain

My father never went on a school field trip. Never came to a football or basketball game where I was shaking my pom-poms in what he still jokingly describes as my little “bobtail skirt.” He didn’t attend the school musical or the play I wrote in high school. When he did come to the school, he usually wasn’t there for me.

 Instead, he was helping a single mother get her wayward son back in school. Or he was fighting the local powers that be, protesting to get more black teachers hired for a school enrollment that was increasingly black and a school staff that was stubbornly white. He was often marching off to school board meetings or rallies and organizing the community for another civil fight. Or he was protesting the number of black boys being expelled and suspended—my father’s days and nights filled with meetings and causes and prayer.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Celebrating Fatherhood

My husband, John W. Fountain, sometimes quotes Chris Rock about fatherhood. Chris Rock says if fathers are lucky, they might get the big piece of chicken. On Mother's Day, restaurants are full. On Father's Day, not so much. Sometimes we take our fathers for granted or don't show them the appreciation that they deserve. Sometimes our fathers are or were not there.

Whatever the case may be, fatherhood is important and should be celebrated. Good fathers need to be appreciated for the love, guidance, provision and protection that they provide. Fathers who are not there need to know the important role they play in their children's lives.

That's what my husband's new book, Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood does. Dear Dad celebrates fatherhood as one of life's most sacred callings. It also encourages fathers who have been good fathers to stay the course and those who may have fallen down on the job to get back up. It is also an encouragement and hope for healing for those who have not known the love of a natural father. It speaks clearly of the love of our Heavenly Father--God.

I am one of 15 writers that my husband enlisted to share their thoughts, memories and reflections about their own fathers and fatherhood. It is the first publication of WestSide Press, a publishing company founded by my husband that is dedicated to telling the stories of the human experience, especially the stories of those who are often unseen and unheard in our society.

This week, as we prepare to celebrate Father's Day, I will feature excerpts from Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood, including my own.

For more information about the book and the writers, please go to http://www.wspbooks.com/. For an autographed copy of the book, you can purchase the book here at At the Well or at the WestSide Press web site. Dear Dad is also available at amazon.com.

If you would like to share your own "Dear Dad" story, go to http://www.wspbooks/ and click "Your Story" for information about writing your reflections on fatherhood.

And if you have a father or special person in your life who has been a father to you, give them more than just the big piece of chicken. Thank them. Call them. Show appreciation to them. Celebrate them. Celebrate fatherhood.

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