I've always known that I was one of the lucky ones. I've always known that I was blessed to have my Pops in my life. I've always known that I was fortunate to grow up with my father as an active part of my life. And I've always been thankful knowing that that man was the one who was chosen to be my guiding figure. And even more so, I'm grateful to know that he still is all these things to me after all these years.
Flat out, I'm not the man I am without my Pops. He's the gold standard for everything I'm good at and the benchmark for everything I've yet to or will never achieve. My love of education, particularly history, comes from him - and despite me having all the degrees, he's still more learned than I'll ever be. My gift of gab springs from him - growing up on 105 & St. Clair, my Pops was just as adept at talking to neighbors about the issues in the community as he was with bullshittin' with the brothers outside the liquor store. The silent love that I have for my family and friends was instilled by him - watching him provide a loving and safe home for my grandmother and cousins when I was a kid showed me the depths that you go to for kin in good and bad times.
My Pops' impact on me is immeasurable and I'll never be able to repay him. But I just hope that I live my life doing right by the ways that he raised me and in doing so, I hope that I'm making him proud as a father. He told me everyday that my purpose in life was "to affect change". That no matter what, my presence in people's life was to be for the betterment of both myself and them. I didn't always understand what he meant but I saw it daily in the way that he carried himself and the way that he advocated for the kids he served. His passion for others and his desire for excellence is the foundation for who I am and what I do. He is the imprint and influence on my life's plan.
As each Father's Day passes, I'm reminded of the legacy that I aim to uphold - laughing at myself as I know that it feels as grand as Atlas holding up the Earth. But in this case, it isn't a punishment - it's a badge of honor that I proudly attempt to carry because I hope that one day I'm able to be the father to my children that I had growing up. And whenever that day comes, I'll for sure be telling them that the persons they will eventually become is impacted in so many ways by the greatest man I've ever known - my Pops!