“Do you remember the day, the event, when you knew…’Now, I truly am a grown man?'” Part 1

African American father and son

As  we reflect on this upcoming Father’s Day weekend I could not help sharing one of the most powerful statements my grandfather made to me. I was 18 and preparing to leave home for the first time. I remember our conversation as if it took place only a few weeks ago.

 That entire summer was filled with excitement, happiness but also with sadness as I was preparing to transition into manhood. I would be leaving my mentoring role as the oldest grandchild of my grandparents.

Several of my aunt’s children lived with us, my grandfather and grandmother, and I was their mentor and “big brother.”  As I look back on those hot summer August days they were some of most the memorable.

I can still see my aunt’s loving and supportive faces, their kids innocent looks filled with curiosity on our front porch on why I was leaving them to go to this strange place in the north called Minnesota to attend college.

My grandmother stood in the doorway smiling at me as I was about to leave. When she smiled at me she touched my spirit like no other.

“We raised you the best we could and remember that you were loved! Do unto others as you would yourself as you enter the world.”

But a few days earlier, my grandfather made the most powerful statement.

Would a rite of passage benefit so many young fatherless boys?

What would be a useful rite of passage?

Would a loving relationship with an adult male help heal the inner loneliness and anger?


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