Sunday, March 8, 2015

About My Daddy

(Originally published March 4, 2015)

My daddy's name was Robert E. Johnson.

On March 10,1940, my father was born. On October 16, 1984, my father transitioned from time to eternity. His two sisters were ten and eleven years older, and the treated him like the little brother he was. They adored him, and he adored them. They doted on him, and he relished in the attention. Bert and Amelia LOVED their little brother, and Bobby LOVED his big sisters.

During the 44 years in between, he did some things. They were not quite earth shattering, nothing to be recorded in Ripley's Believe It Or Not. He did not do anything that was worthy of a Nobel Prize, a Heismann Trophy, or a Purple Heart. He lived and died.

He was a simple man, yet complicated at the same time. He loved God, his family, andmost importantly, the Dallas Cowboys. He loved football. If you lived in his house, as my younger sister pointed out so eloquently, you loved the Cowboys (or you didn't live there).

Bobby didn't finish college, but he went, where he (I told you he loved it). In fact, on his Army discharge papers, his pre-military occupation is listed as "athlete". My daddy was a jock (explains a great deal of my later attraction to football players). Remember how I said he did somethings that were not quite earth shattering? Well, he was the first Black man to hold a supervisory position in the Augusta, GA post office. That was quite an accomplishment back in the late 1960s/early 1970s. He played golf, like his father and his sisters. That was quite an accomplishment in itself, considering he was born less than 1/8 mile from the back of Augusta Country Club, which shares Raes Creek with Augusta National, two courses he could not play during his four decades on earth. In my eyes, however, there was nothing my daddy could not do.

Now, lest you think I am romanticizing my daddy, I am not. He had his demons. He really did. Gin and bourbon were two of the greatest ones. Fidelity was another one. Financial responsibility was yet a third. He had his issues, and all three of his wives would attest to that. But he loved, and he loved hard.

I miss my daddy. I call his name every day, and have done so since the day he died. I am blessed that I see him in my sisters, and especially in his grandchildren, especially the boys. His namesake is going to be big like him. The other grandson loves football. He really IS Bobby Johnson's grandson. His daughters are absolutely fearless. His son? Well, I'm still trying to figure out what qualities I got. (Really, I am.) I miss my daddy because he's not here, but more importantly, I miss him because he missed:

·     His oldest daughter's weddings, and the birth of her two children, and the subsequent birth of his great grandchildren. He missed watching his oldest daughter grow into an amazing insurance woman, who can hold down a household AND raise children AND raise hell quietly.
·     His youngest daughter growing up. He did not get to see the little girl, 10 days shy of turning 5 when he died, get a flipping master's degree and become a politician. He also did not get to see her develop into the most brilliant out of his three children. (I will probably regret saying this.) He missed the births of his grandsons, who are literally copies of him and who are brave, and strong, and amazing, and fearless. His daughter is raising them to be Johnson men, and baby, Johnson men they are.
·     His son. He missed his son screw up. Not a lot, but more than a little bit. His son loved the wrong men (at times), didn't play football, didn't go into themilitary. He didn't graduate from an HCBU. He got a few of his father's bad habits (bourbon comes to mind). He DID get his love of Dallas Cowboys football,and the quality to love his sisters. He missed the opportunity to see his son finally get his head screwed on straight, and finish college, and seminary. His son is a preacher. He missed his son grow into his calling. Bobby missed seeing his son become a (sometimes) fearless who stands up for what he believes in, and fights like hell for the marginalized to be heard. He will miss his son's ordination, and whatever happens thereafter. He missed me falling in love witha man who shares his name, and hates football.

Remember how I said I was trying to figure out what I got from my daddy? It finally hit me: music. He LOVED Aretha Franklin. So. Do. I. He LOVED the Beatles, and I do too. The Beach Boys? Yeah! The Commodores? You bet. There is one behavior that I do that he did: he would lay down in the floor, in front of the stereo, and just listen to music for hours. I do too.

Happy birthday Daddy. I know you wanted a son who played football like you, and that’s not me. However, your son grew up to be a man who loves God, his family, and the Dallas Cowboys.

I guess I am just like you where it counts.

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