By: Mia L. Hazlett
I remember my grandfather when I was growing up. I had two up until about 3rd or 4th grade, but my father’s father was with me until my thirties. He was the man who taught me how to drive. He was the man who would come to our house when I was alone in the summer and tell me to take a break from my chores and go swimming. He was the man who almost beat up a customer at the restaurant I worked at, because the customer called me stupid. He was the man who yelled at the ref during one of my basketball games because he called a foul on me. He was the man who picked me up from high school and drove me to work because my parents were at work. He was a man.
He did all that, and something else throughout his life, raised a man, my father. Throughout my life, I remember my father always working and providing for his family. My mother worked just as hard for her family and they raised four exceptional people. My father had his own painting business for however many years. I remember him more as a painter, than I do a teacher. He was teacher for over twenty years.
When I wasn’t working in my teen years during the summer, I had to wake up early and go to work with him. He taught me, no matter who I was, I had to start at the bottom. He had a crew and I wanted to paint the house, I didn’t want to scrape shutters. He told me the first day on the job, I wasn’t allowed to ask for a promotion. I scraped shutters for the summer and the summer after that I graduated to painting shutters. That lesson has always stuck with me. He also gave me my greatest gift, the love of reading. My father had books upon books upon books. Not only do I love to read now, my passion is to write books that others will read.
The thing is, I never thought I would have to share my father with my children. He shows up to the softball games. He is that man, along with my mother, who provided for us when we had nothing. He is the one who comes and takes my trash to the dump. He is the one who picks my kids up when they need a ride. He is there for my children, as his father was for me, but also takes on the role of being a role model of defining a real man. Not only does he love unconditionally, but he is there unconditionally.