By TC Mayes

I was having a conversation in the barbershop yesterday about Father’s Day.  I was overwhelmed by the similarity in the stories and experiences shared between so many fathers.  Fathers who work so hard and tirelessly, without complaint, to provide for their family…fathers who generally felt unappreciated by those whom they serve and love most. I was actually paying attention to their facial expressions and body language.  It was quite sad.  What I saw on every man’s face was hopeless despair…despair covered in self-deprecating jokes, dipped in sarcasm, laced with pride, and displayed with a smile.  These men expected appreciation from their wives, children, family members, loved ones, significant others but they knew it was going to be just another day, an afterthought, a chore of appreciation. Just about every conversation concluded with resignation–wanting solitude.  That’s it.  Just solitude.  I noticed that they chose solitude because it was their last resort of peace…not happiness or appreciation, but peace.  I wondered how miserable, lonely, or at the very least discouraged must a man feel to choose solitude as a means of showing appreciation?

Then I remembered my father.  I wondered if my father felt like these men.  I wondered if my father sat in the barber’s chair and lamented about how unappreciated he felt, how discouraged he was.  No…not my dad. The great Thomas Mayes, Sr. — a strong man of God, devoted to his family.  He was a giant among men. He was a man’s man.  He personified wisdom. He embodied strength, faith, character, love, and tenderness. He was a quite literally a father to fathers.  He was a genuine Godly man who devoted his life to his family and (as he would say) “his people.”  It’s been 19 years since my father passed away, and to this day I run into people who lend a level of respect to me because of who my father was.  He was this colossal man of greatness who deserved every ounce of appreciation within me.  But on his last Father’s Day celebration he received as a gift from me, a coffee mug from Walgreens.  He deserved better than that.  His life and legacy was greater than that.

My daddy was amazing.  He deserved more that a coffee mug. My daddy loved me.  There was so much I’m sure I missed out on because I did not have the opportunity to get to know him as a man, but I can see the impact of his love in my life.  My daddy’s love healed, forgave, restored, protected, disciplined, endured and encouraged.  My daddy’s love was as close to unconditional as I believe is humanly possible.

His legacy reverberates beyond the grave in ways I’m sure he didn’t anticipate.  I am almost 31 years old. I am married, but I have no children of my own.  You see, my wife and I are having issues conceiving naturally.  To the infertile couples, days devoted to parenthood, such as Father’s day, can be especially hard.  They are challenging because it’s a reminder of what you don’t and can’t have naturally, or at all.  Challenging because you actually desire and want to participate in this special day but can’t. Hard because days like this only brings attention to the ache in your heart and soul that you so desperately try to ignore.

My wife writes a blog, in part to cope with the struggles of infertility (shameless plug: unashamedgrowth.com). Check it out! LOL.  She unwittingly paid a compliment to my father a couple of years ago when she was writing one of her stories about an experience with our nieces. For context, let me just explain — every summer we take care of our nieces.

My wife’s words about me:

“…he’s such an excellent caretaker and Uncle. An authoritative disciplinarian who shows love with every conversation and “laying of the rod” that I’ve never seen. A fun loving adult who plays like a carefree kiddo who is endless entertainment when we have our nieces.”

SUPER SWEET STORY #1: Both he and I had to lay the rod a couple of days ago but I was the only one who forgot to give a hug, snuggle, and chat afterwards. After my spanking that night while Aliya was bathing, she says, “Uncle T gives me a hug after a spanking.” To which I respond, “Yup. That’s because he loves you!”

He’s an excellent role model and a fantastic thinker – sometimes, I look at him and fear what his child, his little boy will be like… I’m quite SURE I’ll be out thought by the smallest, most arrogant thinker ever! He’ll be a force to be reckoned with as soon as he learns to talk! I fear for his teachers – he’ll be the one making sure the teacher knows what HE knows and what s/he’s supposed to know!

He has these amazing conversations about God and Christianity that blow me away. With my niece, my little sister, myself, I can’t imagine how amazing our children will be and how they will impact this world knowing who they are in Christ and the role they play in the Body and the world.”

I wish I could take credit for what my wife sees but I can’t.  I read my wife’s words and I saw my daddy all over her blog.  My dad’s legacy does live on.  Here’s my point. Fathers deserve better. The legacy he left is not unique.  All fathers deserve appreciation and should never be afterthoughts. Their impact lasts lifetimes.  Don’t allow those whom are fathers in your life to be like those in the barbershop.  What my nieces experience, what my wife observed, what I had no idea I was displaying, was my father’s love exemplified in me.

I was 12 years old when my father passed away and, today I walk on, in his legacy.  So here’s to fathers everywhere – you are very much so appreciated.

photo(5)TC is an educator, fund developer, strategist, ministry leader, and a community organizer who has dedicated his life to inspiring individuals to become their best through education and enlightenment.  He believes, as Dr. King did, that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient in order to achieve, with increasing facility, the legitimate goals of his life. TC studied Business Administration with a concentration in Management at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA.  Ultimately aspiring to obtain a doctorate’s degree in education, TC is a candidate for Masters of Business Administration in Spring 2014.