Discussion: Father by Design
(You will see this Discussion posted Twice because I forget to give a Thank you and share the author of this Discussion. This Discussion was written by J Anthony Spencer (Editor and my brother in Love). He did such a great job and I wanted to make sure he was recognized as the writer. Thank you!}
June 11, 2021
So I was challenged to come up with something for Father’s Day. Not as popular as Mother’s Day or as special as Veterans or Memorial Day. But I can see how those that care can have issues with the day. In considering a theme, I realized that on more than one occasion that the man I am. The father I am is a combination of several men/fathers. It wasn’t something that I set out to do, it just happened. As if by some design I hadn’t much to do with. I’ll attempt to explain; I hope without rambling. Of course, there was my biological father. This is by no means a stub to the man he was. He was a man that had his own agenda that often didn’t include me and my brothers. But in the last decade of his life we both worked on a new relationship without regard to the past. We had our frustrating moments, but I found that there were qualities that I admired in him. He began to trust me with things that he once kept “close to the vest”, which I can only imagine came out of respect on his part. And respect as they say goes both ways.
Then there was Andrew Brinkley. The second of my “Life Fathers”. A chance meeting over a CB radio lead into me becoming a member of the Brinkley Family. It wasn’t just his immediate family either. Along with the brothers and sister (God rest her soul) I have aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. A true example of family extends beyond blood. This man taught me what it was to be a man and a father in the earthly sense (I will explain this latter). With him we made memories. He taught me to use my hands to earn money earnestly. He also taught me that anything can be fixed (even relationship) if you put your mind to it. With a Muriel Air Tip clenched between his teeth that he never inhaled, he told me of his mistakes and how not to make them. Words that still resonate with me are, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. And everything is small stuff. Though “stuff” was actually another word that began with a “s”. LOL.
Between the two “Life Fathers” was the first of my “Spiritual Fathers”. Bishop M.R. Lane. The Lane family “adopted” the young man next door, and as with the Brinkley Family I had an extended family. Sunday Service, Bible Study, Tarry Service, Revivals and most. Through the tutelage of Bishop Lane, I was force fed the Word of God. This was my teaching into the faith sense. I learned morals from the biblical perspective. As I got older, I traveled with him and older still I drove to different cities and states. Watching and listening as he passionately spoke the word and with a scratch of his head pulled a Chapter and Verse seemingly out of nowhere. Treating me as his own, I was not immune to the stern upbringing of an adoptive son. But this is where godly morals as opposed to earthly morals were developed that still provide guidance to this very day. Like my “Life Fathers” he is gone, along with my other mom (Lorraine) and my brother Donnal (God rest his soul). But we remain a family still with a love and respect that some can only dream of.
Pastor William A. Gray III was known as that short preacher that had the church on the corner is Essex, MD. Though he lacked the “Fire and Brimstone” delivery of Bishop Lane, there are few that study and present the word of God like him. The History of the Word was an open book to him (no pun intended). He researched everything before he spoke. You might say that every preacher does that. Maybe so, but you knew when Pastor said it you knew that he would have an answer to every question you asked. Besides being the shepherd of the church flock, he was a father figure to be admired. With Rev. Candace by his side he raised a fantastic set of kids. Children that grew up and excelled in their chosen professions. With an open door policy, he always had the time to sit and talk with you. Giving ‘fatherly advice” with biblical spin. He has the ability to make everyone feel important. The respect he gives, he gets. As a Father in The Ministry he has about 26 ordained ministers. It my thoughts that it takes a man of care and compassion to raise “offspring” from the pews to the pulpit.
The adage of…. “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” somewhat comprised who I am. Four Men, four father figures and here I am. Definitely an independent thinker but always open to learning. Each one of them provided lessons of a sort. Some more than others. But learn I did. A father of two became a father of four when two became one. I raised my boys to be independent. Not to follow, but to lead. I told them it was in their DNA. The oldest always wanted to fly. He joined the Army. You (as I did) think why not the Air Force. But I remember the phone call. “Dad, I’m going to fly helicopters.” Fast Forward to now and for over ten years he has been training new recruits to fly Blackhawks. My youngest told me one day after a few months of college to trust him. College may have gotten him an IT degree but certifications were quicker and carried as much weight as the degree. He studied and tested. Fast Forward to now and he is an IT Specialist leading (not following) a team.
My girls? I let them know that I was not here to replace their fathers. I was here to love them. To be here if they needed me. We have a great relationship. Our story together it is not complete. We have many chapters to go. But they know I am here for them. And most importantly I know they love me. I am Pop Pop to five wonderfully made grandkids. And it all started with a Spencer, a Lane, a Brinkley and a Gray. I am a Father by Heavenly Design.
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