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Happy Father's Day: Letters to (and About) Our Dads

Niki and her dadArguably, our fathers–whether respectable, stand-up guys or deadbeat dads–help shape us into the ladies we soon become. From little girls to grown women, the ties that bind us to our daddies-slash-superheroes naturally change but, directly or indirectly, give us the strength to face life and all of its obstacles.

Yes, this holiday catches a lot more flack than the day carved out for our moms, but it's important to acknowledge the lessons we've learned from the father figures we honor, respect and cherish.

Father's Day is especially a special time for the ladies at VIBE Vixen, so we poured out a little love on these e-streets for each of our papas.

Click through the pages to see the words dedicated to our favorite guys. --Niki McGloster

Nikki Breeden's Dad

Dear Dad,

You've spent half my life fighting with my mom. Boy, I praised the day that all ended. Whoever said divorce is a b-tch never had to tip toe the halls of your chambers. But despite a tumultuous past, we've weathered the storm. I'll never deem myself a daddy's girl and we probably will never fully possess the father-daughter relationship that my younger self longed for, but in many ways, those holes to our relationship resulted in my wholeness as a woman. Your absence has taught me more than your presence ever could.

It took me years to grasp the lessons and answers to all of my why's but, because of you, I'm a fighter, I'm fearless and I'm a woman who 100% knows her worth. Overcoming our battles, months of not speaking, we are in a different space than we were back then. Today, I appreciate you for the man that you are. For being supportive over everything I do. Your sense of humor is a flashlight to my dark days and you're always a phone call away for the wise words and advice needed. And I know that you try.

I won't beat you down for the things you didn't do or even diagnose myself to be a 24-year-old girl with daddy issues, knowing God has allowed me to better forgive and understand. Flaws and all, sometimes I may just forget that you're human.

Somehow, in some crazy way, you'll always be my first love. Happy Father's Day, papito! We have our issues, but we'll get there.

Love,

Your daughter with daddy issues (kidding!)

Nikki

 

Daddy’s Grown Woman

I was the only girl out of my friends that had their father in their lives when I was growing up. I always wondered why do all of my friends (yes, all of my friends) until I got to college not have their fathers present to nurture their little girl or scare the boys away. You know, the cliché things dads are known to do. I almost felt ashamed of my upbringing when my friends would bash their deadbeat fathers as I sat there eating my lunch trying to process all their statements and wonder how I could contribute to the conversation. Obviously I had nothing to say, but it always made me feel uncomfortable yet special to know I didn’t have those issues and my father wasn’t another statistic.

My dad stressed the importance of education until me and my brother decided to go away to college just so we could be out from under his watchful “Do your homework now” eye. But no matter how many miles away we were, we could still hear his stern voice in the back of our heads saying, “Turn off that television and go study.” The values he instilled in me will never fade and, for that, I’m grateful to be his daughter.

I know besides our similar characteristics and mannerisms that I also inherited his work ethic. In whatever I do in my career, I always strive to give it 100% or more because I know that’s what he would do. I know I’m not where I want to be right now as a writer, but with practice and perseverance in my craft, I know he'll learn to be proud of my career choice one day. At times I feel like I’ve failed him by picking journalism just because of the struggle to find a paying job, but I know that’s just silly talk in my head. And if he’s supported me this far (driving me to the strip club, haha), I know he’s in it for the long run.

So this is my letter to you daddy. Thank you on this day for what you’ve helped me to accomplish so that I can make you proud in the future.

Love,

Camille

Stacy and her DadDad,

I know you must have heard this next sentence enough times in your lifetime: You’re such a hard person to figure out. And yet, I feel like I understand you perfectly.

There’s no doubt I’m your child. It’s crazy just how much of our caretakers we absorb during our upbringing other than looks. I get my desire to travel, my creative eye, the photography bug, a love for the arts and a sense of curiosity from you. On the flip side, I also get my worry habits, OCD tendencies and fits of helplessness from you too. But what we have both learned from each other is how to prevail. I think our give and take relationship is really something special.

Of course like most parents do, at times you get on my nerves, but that doesn’t stop me from praying for you every night before I slip out of consciousness, thanking the Big Man Upstairs for giving me such a great man to pray about. A lot of people don’t have father figures in their lives to pray for, to write letters to or to have even cross their minds. They have cancer victims and bullies and tomb stones and sperm donors and complete strangers. And I have you, my Dad, and I couldn’t be happier.

When your feel weak, I see your strength. When you get mad, I see your passion. When you get quiet, I see your vulnerability. When I you get frantic, I see your concern. When you put your foot down, I see your pride. When you tell us colorful, long-winded stories about Jamaica, I see your imagination. When you critique me, I see your faith in me. When you read ALL of my blog entries and articles, I see your support. When you smile, I see your love. And when I see you, I see myself.

Happy Father’s Day,

Stacy-Ann Ellis

Adelle and FamilyHey Pa,

It's been a while since we've spoken. I remember when I used to say my prayers and ask how you were doing every single night before I fell asleep. Nowadays, I'm lucky if I can even find a couple minutes to myself. But today, I'm writing to tell you that it's our time together that I miss the most.

I miss the days when life as daddy's little girl was my only responsibility. Each morning, you'd take me to McDonald's and get me the hot cakes I never hesitated to gobble down. Then, you let me pick out my favorite comic books at the deli and guzzle down the sugary remains of your daily coffee. You took me to work with you soon after and let my imagination run wild, even if it meant me making a mess in your office. I'd bring my white copy paper, art supplies and Barbie dolls and just draw, act out Disney scenes and sing Michael Jackson till clock-out time without a single scold from you. When you did get mad, though, I still found a way to slip in the dramatics and play dead to make you feel bad. Looking back on it now, I laugh at how much of a handful I was but you still embraced my crazy with both arms.

It's been 9 years since you've passed and the crazy in me is still alive and well. But if your view from Heaven isn't nosebleed terrible, I'm sure this isn't news to you. It's been a little difficult trying to navigate my way through adulthood, especially during the moments I wish I had a dad to turn to, one who would tell me not to waste time on assholes and ground me when my alcohol intake exceeded the point of sloppy.

Luckily, Ma has laid down the law in the interim. She's been the best dad she can be. Even if our differences weren't always solved within half an hour Full House-style, she has surprisingly taught me what a man should be while exemplifying a strong, independent woman and making single parenthood look like slight work.

This Father's Day, I raise my glass to the both of you for showing me that actions mean more than titles and that it doesn't take a calendar holiday to appreciate the two people who (literally) gave me life. I've realized that no family portrait is perfect but I'm glad ours has flaws that made us stronger.

Love you guys.

Always,
Adelle

Nicole Brown and dadDear Dad,

Compared to my sisters, I've always had a unique perspective on our relationship. When you and Mom first divorced, I was angry. How could you abandon us? Sure, it was never fun to see you two argue and barely speak to each other, but I needed you to tuck me into bed every night and take me to school in the morning. As an 8-year-old kid, I wasn't ready for that premature independence. I dreaded those bi-weekly visits. You seeme, dare I say, happy to only see us every other Saturday.

While my sisters went through the motions, I secretly hated you and tried to stay home as much as possible. Up until a couple years ago, our relationship continued to deteriorate mostly due to child support (or lack thereof) and my education. Monetary gifts aren't the most important, but their non-existence made our relationship even more complicated. But I will never forget the day that we finally reconciled.

It was June 2009 around the time Michael Jackson had passed. I've never told you this, but as I watched the televised memorial service and the pain on his children's faces, I couldn't help but cry. What if I lost my father today? Would I be happy with where our relationship stood? Were there things that I wanted to tell you but didn't have the courage to? In that moment, I turned back into my younger self not sure what to do with this whirlwind of emotions inside of me.

Fortunately, you were there to listen, even after I said I would never speak to you again the previous Christmas. I can't remember what was said in that particular conversation, but I forgave you. It felt amazing to start fresh, and better yet, to start fresh together. I know that I can't go back in time but I'm hopeful for the future.

Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for being a dad when you need to be. Thank you for slipping me some cash when I'm running late with my bills. Thank you for welcoming me back into your life with open arms.

Love,

Nikki

April and her GrandpaI haven’t spoken to my father in almost 10 years. I'm not even sure if he’s still alive. I’d like to think that if he passed away, someone would have the decency to contact us, seeing as how my grandmother’s address and phone number has been the same for almost 60 years.

When I was a little girl, my dad hung the moon. It didn’t matter that he was rarely around or only showed up when he felt like it. I didn’t care what anyone said about him, although my tiny ears should've never heard the things they did in the first place. I loved my father to pieces, loved him fiercely. A true daddy’s girl, even though he was largely absent.

My biological mother mocked my enthusiasm and preference for my father, sarcastically referring to him as “Mr. Wonderful,” meanwhile quipping how there was nothing wonderful about him. The things said about my father brought me to tears as a kid, but I always came to his defense—a child, defending her hero. Although my dad was M.I.A., which was more often than not, he would still send me cards for my birthday, Easter and even Halloween. I used to run and show my grandma how pretty his handwriting was. I would trace over it, trying to make my signature look like his.

I owe my father my life for helping to bring me into this world. But more importantly, I owe my father gratitude for the gifts he has given me aside from the gift of life. My father stepping aside to allow someone else to raise me afforded me a life he wasn’t capable of providing—a life of stability, of unconditional love, with the two greatest, most beautiful people I will ever know—my grandparents.

I wouldn’t be me if not for the experiences I’ve been through, and I have to say I like who I am and who I am becoming. I no longer view my dad walking out as an act of abandonment, but an act of love. Some people walk into your life and make it great. Sometimes that means others have to walk out to create space for the greatness that’s to come.

Dedicated to my fathers—both of them.

Love,

April

Father's Day

Dad,

Since I can remember you were always the big bad wolf huffing and puffing and blowing things away. When I was little I was scared of you. I assumed you’re favorite color was black because 90% of your wardrobe consist of it. You had big, rough hands, and the rare times I'd see you smile was at one of our expenses. However I as grew up and continue to grow, I understand you much better. Although you're stubborn at times and still unyielding, you are the example of what a man is.

You always believe you modeled our upbringing from Major Payne, but you're more like Heathcliff Huxtable–father of four and husband of 33 years. I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. I see a man who works to support his family but will drop anything if anyone in his bloodline or extended family needs him. I see a man who sat in the hospital while he was on trial just to make sure his father was okay. A man who asks nothing of anyone but gives everything of himself. Where it matters –from my many dance performances, proms and graduations–you’ve been, and I am beyond blessed to have a father who has been there every step of the way, even when you disagree with my decisions.

Thank you for allowing me to make my mistakes and also lecturing me on how you saw it coming. You taught me to be extraordinary, and the older I get, the more I understand that when you come from extraordinary circumstances you shouldn’t belittle yourself to an ordinary lifestyle.

I don’t know what guy I'll end up with but I know he has to be at least half the man you were when you weren’t in your prime and be working towards filling your shoes. I don't’ like to get mushy with you because that’s not in my character, as you know, but I am very grateful to have a real man as my father. While others refer to you as Mr. Daniels, I have the privelage that gets to call you Daddy.

Love,

Sharifa

Deena and her DadMost dads would never admit they have a favorite daughter, but my dad is famous for it. “Not only are you my favorite daughter, “ he tells me on our phone conversations. “But you’re my only daughter.”

Being his favorite—and only—daughter has its perks. Like when he gave me a brand new car when I graduated from high school, or when he still takes me on shopping trips just because it’s become our little tradition. And the disadvantages are few: he’s slightly overprotective and his criticism can be relentless (sorry you think my box braids are tacky, dad).

Age-wise, we’re 45 years apart, but when we’re in our element you’d think we’ve known each other for 50 years. One of my fondest memories with him occurred last year while on a family cruise. During our duet at karaoke, we both fought for the microphone while singing “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” It’s true, he’s one of the best things that ever happened to me.

The older I get, the more I realize how special he is to me. And now that the protective veil of childhood is lifted, our easy go-to conversations are filled with 1.) travel stories that temporally fulfill our shared cravings for wanderlust. 2.) the latest political scandal, or my favorite 3.) relationship advice (note: when getting over a breakup just “keep breathing and eventually you’ll get over it,” he says). Spoken like a true friend.

My dad is heroic in his special way, and he's everything and much more than heroes should be. He makes my world simpler and the painful things more tolerable. But most importantly, he joins me on this journey called life when I’m too afraid to walk alone. And I thank him every step of the way for it.

Happy Father’s Day,

Deena

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