Dear Ballard Catchings,
I am thankful that you were my father and I hope that you are resting in peace.
Though our life together was tumultuous and we spent many years apart, I loved you and I loved what you did for me as a father. You taught me everything I know, even though you didn’t finish the 9th grade. You fled Jackson, Mississippi and never looked back.
You taught me that excellence was my right as a human being and that being Black did not exclude me from exuding excellence in everything I do. You taught me how to count by playing poker, spades and go-fish… I went on to graduate university with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. You taught me about social studies by making me read the Sunday paper with you. You told me to see the world, to date – I have been to London, Paris, Ireland, Belgium, and Amsterdam… and I plan to see much more of the world until my last breath. Even though you never left America, you taught me that being global was the way of the future and that I needed to know more about the world in order to be at the top of my game. You taught me about music. Sitting in the car listening to Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington on your 8-track you forced me to learn all my instruments through closing my eyes and listening to jazz for hours upon end in the summer time when I went to work with you. I became a DJ at the age of 27 and a damn good one at that.
You taught me about racism and how it was the cancer of the world. Even though your mother had been raped by the white farmer in which held your family as indenture servants and she died giving birth to his baby, you taught me that racism was a cancer on the world and it cheated people out of true friendships in life. You taught me to be open to all ethnicities, all nationalities and to be a good person. You taught me that there are really only two people: Good People and Bad People. You told me that I may find a long, great and wonderful lasting friendship in a white, Asian or another ethnic person and to accept that friendship because at our core we are all human. You taught me that being color blind is ignorance and accepting a person for all that they are is the way forward to having the world recognize my own greatness and making the world a better place. I want you to know I have friends of all races, all political preferences, from many different countries.
I want you to know your grand-daughter is both an American citizen and a citizen of the British Empire; she is both African-American and European-British, she speaks English, Mandarin and Spanish.
She is your legacy – she is the beautiful fruit of all the love and wisdom you put into me.
Most of all daddy, I want you to know that it was you that sowed the seed of greatness in me from as long as I could remember and though our life as father and child was marred with a long separation, it was that love, dedication and effort you put into me from an early age that set me on the path to “fabulousness”.
I am thankful that you were my dad.
I love you!
They used to always say “happiness” is fleeting. I understand deeply. You look over your life during the hard times… And the fun times, the times when you felt loved, the times when you felt pure joy emanate from your core… Those times seem few and far between. Fleeting.
I like to recycle my happy thoughts, but I am too easily sucked into living in the past. So how do you harness happiness in the now?
I have no clue… Yet I heard from a very happy person, it can be done.
Today, I will end the night on a happy note. My four year old and ten year old Patterdale are my source of love, laughter and happiness. I now look back on those moments of joy and realize I had to go through all those moments to get here and make new moments.
So now at least I have taught myself how to be more appreciative of new happy memories and to make each day count towards a new arsenal if happy films inside my head.