James Jones: Father’s Day not important for some dads

Published 10:20 am Saturday, June 15, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Every Father’s Day, I’m always reminded of one story that has stuck with me since 1976.

I never spent any time with my father. We never met. He was not in the military nor lived in another town. We lived in the same Tuscaloosa area. 

Whenever I was outside, a man drove past our house, blew his horn and waved.  At first, I waved back. I was seven years old at the time. 

Email newsletter signup

One of those times, the strange man drove by when my mother stood beside me. She looked at me and said harshly, ‘Why are you waving at that man?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I was raised to speak when spoken to.”

“That no good man is your father,” she said. 

Shockwaves went through my body. “Why doesn’t he stop by to see me?”

My mother frowned. “That’s a question you need to ask him. I’ve been asking that since the day you were born.”

As time passed, I never waved at my father again whenever he drove by. My mother never brought his name up again. He eventually faded away.

I asked my grandmother and other relatives about my father. No one ever talked about him. It was like classified information.

I was never the subject of ridicule from my classmates in elementary, junior high, high school and college about not having a father present. I’m grateful they did not because fights would’ve probably taken place. Keeping it real, I would’ve lost some of those battles and likely built an unneeded reputation as a troublemaker.

I was grateful to have three uncles who played big roles in my life. I used one of their cars, while the other two provided financial assistance. 

Too bad, my father didn’t get to witness several great moments in my life: high school and college graduation, my longstanding newspaper career and building a family.

When my father died in 2004, I did not attend his funeral. How could I attend a funeral for someone I did not know? My grandmother, mother and uncles all passed away a decade before. Outside of them, no one else had answers. 

The rejection lit a fire under me. I vowed to become a better father to my children. I attended band concerts, beauty pageants and graduations. One got older and went her separate way. I’m still close with the younger one, who thinks I’m her bank and advising my love life. 

My advice to people with fathers in their lives: embrace and appreciate them. Take the good and bad. Some of us never got that opportunity.

James Jones is the managing editor of The Selma Times-Journal. He can be reached at at james.jones@selmatimesjournal.com.