There is no Try

I’ve never been fond on New Year’s resolutions, and hence don’t make them. If you want to start or change, just do it. Or at least try to; it doesn’t matter what month it is. I do believe that January is a good time for reflection (but I suppose any day will do).

This afternoon, I found myself driving down the street in my car that is new enough to be considered a Christmas present even though I started driving it before Christmas, and was keenly aware that tomorrow I have to go back to work. Tired of mumble rap and other music with its misogynist lyrics, I had Bob Marley playing in the background. I’d enjoyed the time off at the end of the year, using it to pause and spend time with family but I didn’t for one minute begrudge that I have to go to work tomorrow. In my daytime life, I have a great job that many would consider sexy and amazing. I thought of my father and how proud he would be of me (of course this is in the movie inside my head; he’s been dead almost 25 years. There is always the off chance that he would have become someone else in his old age, disappointed in me for participating in the capitalist process, but whatever.). I do not believe he could have imagined what I do, nor how I am compensated.

He didn’t go to college until he was a senior citizen. He never had to the opportunity or ability to go before then. When he was in high school, there was a war going on and I’m not sure if he was drafted, or if he volunteered to go fight WWII.

My father never complained about this time he spent in the military, instead he told me stories about Germany, all glamorous, and then his narrative jumped to how he had earned a Purple Heart. When he came home, he started having kids and got married and instead of being a carefree college student as I had been, he had a growing family to take care of. He went from solider to civil servant with a bout with Scarlet Fever in the middle, and never looked back. He went to work in snowstorms and other crisis, often at odd hours and I never heard him complain about having to do so. These were great achievements for a man born on sharecropper land.

I changed the station in my car by touching a screen. Unlike in my father’s car, the station changed instantly, with no dial and no eight-track player that mangled the tape. (There is no place in my car to even play a CD). For years, he’d driven a patrol/detective’s sedan, and when I was in it, we sang songs so I’m not sure what the radio did or if there was even one in there, but when he retired he had a caddy with that eight track player.

Daddy had been so proud of his eight-track, even though I’m not sure he owned more than one album. He’d played Bob Marley over and over until the car ate the tape, and when it did, we all had been devastated. Time and technology changed, and I can now summon Bob Marley with a button press and a simple voice request. He would have loved that.

The sounds of No Woman No Cry almost brought me to tears on this day, not because it made me remember my father, but because it made me aware of the leaps and bounds my family has made across the generations. My grandmother left everything she knew behind to move to New York with her small son and do Day Work, and that was a good job for her, a Black Woman. Her only child, my father, joined the military, fought in two wars and then became a civil servant and peace officer; both good jobs for him, a Black Man with no college degree. Because of what they did, I can do BOTH of my jobs, live where I live and drive what I drive, all excellent (Not just good) for a person, man or woman, of any ilk.

A New Years’ resolution how we tend to think of them would be too shortsighted and self-centered. Instead of a New Year’s resolution, I feel a responsibility, to both those who came before me and my children, and their children yet to come. I do not resolve to give up anything, instead, I will endeavor to Lean in and learn so that I may grow and the opportunities yet to come will be revealed to me. I do not know if my father and grandmother thought of those who might come after them when they went to that job they may not have liked every day without complaint, but they did. They may not have had that luxury, but because of them, I do. My opportunities are because of what was done for me, and my actions will impact those who follow.

Comments

Ms. Pam said…
Beautiful tribute to your father.

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