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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

An Adoring, Practical Dad

Mothers play an important role as the heart of the home, but this in no way lessens the equally important role fathers should play, as head of the home, in nurturing, training, and loving their children. - Ezra Taft Benson

You already know that I adore my father. He was a loving, faithful and supportive presence in our life. He was ready to do whatever we needed to make sure we were taken care of. One of my favorite stories is about us going shopping for my elementary school promotion shoes.

I have shared before that I attended the Modern School in Harlem. It was a private elementary school whose principal was James Weldon Johnson’s (Lift Ever’ Voice and Sing) niece. There was a distinct standard that was groomed into us and it still serves me until this day. For graduation the girls wore all white and the boys wore navy blazers to the event. We each had a part in the ceremony and my part was the welcome address. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Williams, told me to be expressive. My parents did a good job of catching that moment when I used my arms.

My dad was definitely practical to a fault. He didn’t have any problem taking us into the ladies section of the department store to get us what we needed, but when it came to shoes, he was super practical. As you can see from the picture, I had a cute dress and my white pantyhose…If you look closely at my feet, I have on white loafers. Not cute girl shoes, Pat Boone loafers.

I think there is a story behind why my dad was taking me for the shoes instead of my mom, but I can't remember the story.

My dad was cautious in his shoe selection. Back in these days, girls wore age appropriate shoes, so there must have been good choices, but in this case my dad’s focus was on functionality. There is one picture that I didn’t locate in time, that shows all of the cute shoes my classmates were wearing. To add to the laughter, the shoes were at least one size too big. My dad always thought it was forward-thinking to buy shoes that you could “grow into.” I don’t think I ever wore them again, but looking at the picture, I suppose it didn’t look too horrible.

My dad is really missed. Everyone that knew my dad says that he would be so proud of my guys. I know what it is like to miss having grandparents. There were only two grandparents alive when I was

born. My paternal grandmother died a month after I was born and my paternal grandfather died 3 months later. Here is a picture of my father with his father. The other picture is of my brothers with my mother’s father.

My dad’s nickname in college was “Smiley”. It is not hard to see why. His smile has always been captivating. My dad signed up for four years in the Air Force. As a college graduate, he was only required to do 2 years. He was in the service during the Korean War conflict. He always had a clear sense of duty and responsibility. On the back of this picture is written “Love to my best girl and mother”.

I am grateful for the fathers and the villages of supportive men who have helped shape my life and the life of my sons. You can read a post I wrote about my wonderful dad for his birthday: Time with Daddy.

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