Tag Archives: Grace

Fatherhood – Who’s responsibility?

  Something happened to me in the last three days. I landed up at a musical festival event over this past weekend, with over 10 000, 20 to 30 year old music fans, Rocking in the Daisies, in Darling near Malmesbury in the Western Cape. A 20 something guy walked up to me, while sitting having a relaxed beer with my better half, and while watching the live entertainment me he spoke softly as he walked by: “You could be my father…” I looked at him astonished, my instinct kicked in and I hugged him, and words I never thought I would say: “Of course, I would be honored to be your father”, the young man looked at me, at first with apprehension, then his eye’s welted, he hugged me tightly, and sniffed on my shoulder, saying: “I did not expect that response, I have a father, but he is has not been a real father, thank so much.”

Yesterday early morning at sunrise, I had an accident in the Planet Fitness, Parklands gym car park, where a vehicle swerved in front of me as I was aiming towards parking bay; I swerved, got blinded by the bright sunlight, and hit a tree, with huge impact and crash, with no seatbelt on. I got out of the car dazed from whiplash and concussion after hitting my head on the steering wheel, and there in front of me, while my adrenaline burst into my veins, was a meek young white man in his twenties. He was a street child I assumed, from his hardened and burnt white skin and dirty rough appearance. The impact was so loud, apparently like a gun shout that one of the young male gym staff shot out. The street child was just asking if I was ok, while the gym guy stood on the outside and looked on. The driver, who caused the accident, just drove off, saying he was sorry. While in a daze, I realized when I got out of the car to assess the damage, had locked my car keys in the car. I must have looked fairly helpless, until my adrenaline kicked in, and I started taking control again, saying I need a coat hanger, cloth and screwdriver. The gym guy said to me, “sorted sir”, and off he ran. The street boy immediately started using his nail clipper file, to attempt to open my boot. My first reaction was that he was going to try and rob my car. I walked up to him, filled with judgment, and said what you doing. He said: “Sir, I want to help you”  My reaction again was, no thanks, I have assistance already, trying to get him away from my car, but he  insisted, and said he will also go and look for a piece of wire.

He came back empty handed by the time the gym guy had brought the tools I needed, and I started attempting to break into my car. The street boy, stood next to me insistent to assist. I realized my concussion and adrenaline rush was not making it easy for me, and handed over the task to the street boy. He got into my car within two minutes, and said that would be R50 please sir. I did not have the money, but i looked at him, appreciative of his assistance, but something happened. I said: “Are you on drugs, why do you look so terrible (from past experience of drug pushes in the area) “No Sir he said, I live on the streets, my father is an alcoholic and my mother is dead”… cowering like a wounded buck, as his whole demeanor wreathed with fear, as though I was going to lunge into him. I just seemed to pursue my angle of questions, but realized, my words were not coming out of anger, or plain curiosity, but out of another part of me…a deep nurturing sense, I had not identified and fully embraced yet…

I landed up contesting the young street guy, about why he lives on the streets, he is healthy, fit, young, but a broken person…why? I was persistent to understand why he was a broken young man. It eventually transpired, that his  mother, before she died, spoke to him, about to be careful of other people, and that he would need to stand  alone in life, as people take you for a ride, as other people ruin people’s lives.

My life as a boy flashed by me…It made me think of my army years from 18 to 20 yrs old in the mid 80’s, of how I was thrown in a washing machine with a mixed bunch colored clothing with different textures,sizes, shapes and smells and spun around together, until settled.The drug peddler from Milnerton, who slept in the bed next to me, in our army bungalow, the gay, who committed suicide  during our basics, the Jewish musician who had only socialized with his people, the Bishop’s boys, who  thought they were entitled and privileged , the timid guy who cried for his mommy at night…the guy who did not bath and smelt like gorgonzola cheese, the bully, the joker, the “dik Boer seuntjie” who would wake up at dawn ready to herd his cattle. BUT…throughout the army training…we all were  brought down to the same level, hair cut the same, ate the same food, shat off running miles and doing pushups and drilled  all day, and became a solid team after 3 months,  where camaraderie reigned supreme…we became soldiers…with  a common goal…solidarity. We, together were the mother, the father, the boss, the candlestick maker, the farmer, the doctor, the court jester, the musician, the fire maker, the close friend…we nurtured and cared for each other, we began to look after each other as a close-knit family would. This was brotherhood.

It took me back four years ago, when I was broken adult, at the age of 40+, divorced, a kid on its way with an  estranged pregnant girlfriend, whom I loved dearly at the time, and she did not love me, no job…broken-hearted, lost confidence, lost all  zest for life, a lifeless zombie…

A friend and older mentor of mine, whom I had met 12 years prior in South Africa, an ex UK Army  Colonel, reached out to me from Scotland, set up a project in Florida (USA), flew me over there, where I became  the Colonel’s “bagger boy.” I rebelled, I shouted, as he kept put me under a strict disciplined regime…He  treated me like a child…I thought…I was in Orlando USA, I could go and see all the Universal and Disney  World class entertainment sites, The Space Museum, but no…I had to work up to 18 hours a day. Scrub the apartment, make the beds,  wash the clothes, be the driver, be the researcher, be the assistant photographer, be the shopper, be the cook,  make the beds, pack for long trips, be the co-driver, be the PA, be the correspondent, be the secretary. I was frustrated, I was sad, I was missing my family and friends, I felt trapped, my freedom revoked, I felt exasperated, like a petulant child. He made me stand in a queue from 4 am in the morning, to buy the new release of I PAD just launched, he was hard on me, but generous with pearls of wisdom…When I left Orlando International Airport, and Big Mr. Colonel gave me a embracing hug, and said I should be grateful… I could not understand this and the time…???I was just so relieved to be on my way home.

I came back after 4 months to South Africa, 20 Kg’s lighter, still pondering why my mentor and friend had turned on me. I did not contact him for almost a year…and then the last three days happened…

I was still going on at the street boy, in my concussed state, challenging him, why he cannot join the army, find a job, get off the streets, make a life for himself, find some sort of hook, to get him out of the pit he is in. His just answered: “I can’t, I need a place to sleep and money, even though I did two years of apprentice plumbing, my boss ask me to resign.” What, I said, are you  sure you did not steal or take drugs to lose your job?…”No sir, the boss has a training Plumbing School  called Monster Plumbing in Milnerton, and during your training you work as an apprentice for no pay, but when you qualified they  don’t want to pay you.” I believed him, by the sincere look in his eyes, paused, while my head was thumping with pain, and asked him his name…Frederick. He said. I came on stronger, and more sternly, as my neck was going into spasm from the whiplash, my adrenaline still pumping through my veins …”Frederick, you need to get your life sorted out, I barked. Only realising I was talking about myself 4 years back…Frederick, you going to need a father…I said it. “I’ve already got one, all I need is money he said, talking back in a one sided dialogue, still anticipating a lashing from me. I looked at Frederick, knowing I had no money with me,  but I knew…I had something more to give than money…I was getting impatient concerning Fredericks cry for  money and glanced at the gym entrance, indicating I had to go. Then the gym boy took over the conversation, seeming to wait his turn. He stood there in tears and told Frederick about his father…who was a mentor…not his real father…who got his  head right. He too was a broken young man before…

I listened, acknowledged, and said I had to go to gym, to loosen up my neck, as time was running out, and I had to get to work to a tough schedule that day. While I paced towards the gym entrance, I heard behind me the echo of the gym boys voice…”Frederick, you don’t realize what you have here, this guy you talking to is worth more it’s weight in gold…you must listen to him and stop asking for money!” I heard parts of the gym boys story about a mentor father figure had changed his life in the last 2 years, who had bogged him down with work and challenged him, when he had nothing…same story, different people.

I finished my swim, walked out the gym, and there was Frederick, sitting, facing and watching the entrance of the gym with his weary eyes. He approached me, head down, as I walked towards my car. “Sir, are you serious that you  will stand in as my father?”; he said this with watered and weary eyes, looking at me deep into me with  caution, but an innocence and sincerity, holding onto some sort of confirmation, a fear of rejection, fear of being loved…fear of being hurt, fear of being  beaten, fear of being disappointed again…

I am a father, I have a 2 1/2 year stunning and adorable son, but I have become a father again, in a different way, to a twenty something year old boy…and I am ready and prepared to be a father over and over again, for the rest of my life.

We know we a father when we kneel to help a child…Our fatherly role is a gift from God, not only to  father your own flesh and blood, as there are heartbroken hearted children in the world, who have had absent fathers or absent parents or were re-enforced with FEAR.

“A child identifies his parents with God, whether the adults want that role or not. Most people “see” God the way they perceive their earthly fathers.” ~James Dobson

Be a father, be a mentor, use the gifts God gives us, even if you do not have your own children, or if they are not your own children, share this immense gift… It’s like feeling the kiss of warmth of the sun on ones cheek, a taste and feel of God’s Heavenly Grace…

“What higher form of respect and love can you demonstrate than to put yourself aside and give nothing but a few minutes of your attention?” ~Chris Ewing

“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.” ~Sandra Carey

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