It’s interesting that this was our topic this week. On Sunday, the sermon was about boasting. It was an interesting take on the passage in 2 Corinthians 5:12. In some interesting homiletical work, the pastor tied this in to how our father’s (it was Father’s Day last Sunday) would boast on us. He said that we should recognize the impact of our “fathers” and boast in their impact on our lives.
I’m going to follow that advice. My father was not an educated man. However, I think he probably was brilliant. I recently looked at the 1940 census and saw that he listed himself as having finished seventh grade. My mother often said that she doubted he got that far as he “went to sea” at the young age of 13 or 14. By the time I came along, he had a job as a night janitor at a major bank in NYC.
My father stressed education. I don’t remember specific conversations about college nor do I remember pressure about my grades. But somehow, the idea that we needed a college education was impressed on my brothers and I. Of my two brothers, only one graduated high school by finishing the 12th grade. The other, like me, got a GED (equivalency diploma).
But this is not about my brothers. This is about me. This is about my boasting on the imprint of my father that led to something of which I am very proud.
If you’ve read my blogs either her on Kingdom Bloggers or on Sounds of Hope, you know I am working on my doctorate. You know that education is very important to me. If you’ve read Sounds of Hope for a long time, you know about my early marriage at the age of 16, becoming a mother at 17, and you know about my childhood, etc. For those of you who haven’t, here it is in a nutshell.
I married at 16. I became pregnant immediately. By the time, I was to enter my senior year of high school, I was dealing with first trimester exhaustion. I quit school. My peers graduated and I changed diapers on a beautiful baby boy. The next fall, I tried again. I tried to finish my senior year. I remember falling asleep in class. I couldn’t do it.
My dad, who was still living at the time, consoled himself with comments about how I always loved my dolls and seemed destined to be a mother. By 19, my father went home to Jesus and my second child was born. Still no diploma. Abuse, abandonment, divorce, remarriage to the same guy, and another pregnancy followed. Five months pregnant, he beat me for the last time. The day my first daughter was born was the same day as graduation at the University of Missouri. Three kids, one in the ICU nursery maybe dying, living on welfare and alone, I cried as I watched my peers stream out of commencement with their caps and gowns. However, by this time, I had gotten a GED.
Three and a half years later, I finished college. Something rose up within me that day as I cried and grieved over my life. Yes, it was God but it was also my dad. It was all those times that he instilled in me that education was important. I was so proud. Three kids and three and a half years later, I had a Bachelor of Science degree. My only regret is my dad didn't see that day. When I walk with my doctoral tam and academic regalia next May, I hope he's looking down from heaven and saying, that's my girl! I knew she could do it.