Daddy’s Journey… By Timothy Aaron-Styles

If it were possible, many—possibly most—of us would revisit days gone by in order to change past experiences. Armed with the benefits of life lessons learned and wisdom gained from tripping, falling, slipping, stumbling, hurting, being hurt, losing and suffering. I’d go back to make different choices, select different paths, undo certain actions and do many of those things not done—things I really should have done.

Case in point: if I could go back, I would be there for my daughter. I know “be there” is such an abstract term. However, my “be there” has real definition and criteria now. Way back then, back in the days, my concept of “be there” was skewed. Maturity and wisdom arrived at by living and learning hadn’t really manifested itself to me then. Simply put, in other words, I was young and immature.

Of course, I didn’t know it then and I wasn’t listening to those wise elders—some friends, some relatives, some associates and sometimes even strangers—who constantly advised me about how and why I should “be there” for my daughter. Somewhere in my then warped mind, I believed that an occasional phone call made to her or a period African doll sent as a gift was enough for “my little African girl”. Sad.

My daughter needed me to be there to love her. Not in some pseudo-intellectual way nor with mere lip service but by taking care of her. By contributing positively to her unfolding. Her growth. Her development.

Be there. There’s that phrase again. But it’s not the skewed “be there” I refer to. It’s the one whose understanding I have arrived at, finally, through prayer, reflection, tears, struggle, and contemplation.

I should have been there to meet my financial obligations. That’s one of the first and most important responsibilities owed to a child by an absent parent. Money helps provide comfort, joyful experiences, clean and fitting clothes, mind-expansive books, train or bus fare to Nana and Poppy’s house, cultural exposure, a full belly and other creature comforts essential to a healthy and wholesome life experience for a growing child.

I should have been there for my daughter for guidance, protection, support, laughter, encouragement and advice.

I should have been there to listen, cry, tease and joke—To offer my shoulders, my back, my arms and my chest.

I should have been there to hold, snuggle, run, jump, skip and play.

I should have been there, during those formative years, to admonish, discipline, consult or shame (in the African sense of the word where shame is used to enlighten and correct not to demean).

I should have been there like my father and mother were. However imperfect they were.

I should have been there silently if need be. Just to be there so she can see me.
Little girls—and big daughters—need their daddy’s ya’ll.

I can’t go back and recapture that invaluable time although I want to so desperately. Strangely I have fond and precious memories of times and situations between she and I that are non-existent. Is that my mind’s way of rationalizing my absence? Or is it my imagination helping me to not be so sad, guilty and self-condemnatory?

Knowing full well that the past is irretrievable, I’d settle for my twenty-something daughter to embrace me now. To speak with me openly and freely. Hold me—kiss me and affectionately refer to me as “daddy” or “Baba” instead of by my first name.

However, her reluctance to, and the likelihood that a relationship between us will never be, are the fruits of my deeds and misdeeds. All results of my actions and inactions. Products of my immaturity and stupidity. Life’s wisdom has enlightened me.

All I can do now is hope one day my little girl—I’m sorry—my grown daughter can somehow find it in her heart and mind to understand and forgive me. Then maybe she’ll bless me with her time and her love.

All I can do now is share with others and say: daughters need their daddy’s ya’ll. To my brothers—love your daughters and be there for them for real. They need you and you need them.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m on the road now to being a wise elder myself. Somebody tell my daughter.

Daddy’s Journey…
By Timothy Aaron-Styles


If it were possible, many—possibly most—of us would revisit days gone by in order to change past experiences. Armed with the benefits of life lessons learned and wisdom gained from tripping, falling, slipping, stumbling, hurting, being hurt, losing and suffering. I’d go back to make different choices, select different paths, undo certain actions and do many of those things not done—things I really should have done.

Case in point: if I could go back, I would be there for my daughter. I know “be there” is such an abstract term. However, my “be there” has real definition and criteria now. Way back then, back in the days, my concept of “be there” was skewed. Maturity and wisdom arrived at by living and learning hadn’t really manifested itself to me then. Simply put, in other words, I was young and immature.

Of course, I didn’t know it then and I wasn’t listening to those wise elders—some friends, some relatives, some associates and sometimes even strangers—who constantly advised me about how and why I should “be there” for my daughter. Somewhere in my then warped mind, I believed that an occasional phone call made to her or a period African doll sent as a gift was enough for “my little African girl”. Sad.

My daughter needed me to be there to love her. Not in some pseudo-intellectual way nor with mere lip service but by taking care of her. By contributing positively to her unfolding. Her growth. Her development.

Be there. There’s that phrase again. But it’s not the skewed “be there” I refer to. It’s the one whose understanding I have arrived at, finally, through prayer, reflection, tears, struggle, and contemplation.

I should have been there to meet my financial obligations. That’s one of the first and most important responsibilities owed to a child by an absent parent. Money helps provide comfort, joyful experiences, clean and fitting clothes, mind-expansive books, train or bus fare to Nana and Poppy’s house, cultural exposure, a full belly and other creature comforts essential to a healthy and wholesome life experience for a growing child.

I should have been there for my daughter for guidance, protection, support, laughter, encouragement and advice.

I should have been there to listen, cry, tease and joke—To offer my shoulders, my back, my arms and my chest.

I should have been there to hold, snuggle, run, jump, skip and play.

I should have been there, during those formative years, to admonish, discipline, consult or shame (in the African sense of the word where shame is used to enlighten and correct not to demean).

I should have been there like my father and mother were. However imperfect they were.

I should have been there silently if need be. Just to be there so she can see me.
Little girls—and big daughters—need their daddy’s ya’ll.

I can’t go back and recapture that invaluable time although I want to so desperately. Strangely I have fond and precious memories of times and situations between she and I that are non-existent. Is that my mind’s way of rationalizing my absence? Or is it my imagination helping me to not be so sad, guilty and self-condemnatory?

Knowing full well that the past is irretrievable, I’d settle for my twenty-something daughter to embrace me now. To speak with me openly and freely. Hold me—kiss me and affectionately refer to me as “daddy” or “Baba” instead of by my first name.

However, her reluctance to, and the likelihood that a relationship between us will never be, are the fruits of my deeds and misdeeds. All results of my actions and inactions. Products of my immaturity and stupidity. Life’s wisdom has enlightened me.

All I can do now is hope one day my little girl—I’m sorry—my grown daughter can somehow find it in her heart and mind to understand and forgive me. Then maybe she’ll bless me with her time and her love.

All I can do now is share with others and say: daughters need their daddy’s ya’ll. To my brothers—love your daughters and be there for them for real. They need you and you need them.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m on the road now to being a wise elder myself. Somebody tell my daughter.

 

Timothy Aaron-Styles is an innovator in the field of media and communications. He graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor’s in Film/Video while minoring in Marketing. He has worked with CNN Headline News, 16 The Library Channel, and City 5: Atlanta City Hall’s cable television station (which he also co-named).

Contact Timothy at timothyaaronstyles@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “Daddy’s Journey…

  1. Thank you for addressing this subject so personally and truthfully. I think so often, we all don’t realize the mistakes we’re making until we’ve already made them. I’m glad you realize your past mistakes and I pray your daughter is open to re-establishing a relationship with you.

    1. Maybe in the future, after Chicago’s nouooirts Cabrini-Green housing projects become a thing of the distant past Cabrini will become a suitable name. Francesca Cabrini is definitely worthy of the namesake. Until then, I guess I’ll pick Cobina, although I’d prefer Cosmina.

Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s