Image courtesy of Ebony Magazine
The client was in his late 20s, his face impassive, revealing nothing. He came to the legal clinic prepared, bringing along rent receipts carefully retained.
He told a story we had heard many times before: a layoff, promises to a landlord and partial payment of rent, then eviction. In this case, the poignant detail was added of his returning home from the job search to find his sons on the porch with their mother, the door to their apartment padlocked.
We discussed his limited options. It was only at the end of our session with him that the topic of fatherhood came up. We were deeply impressed by his faithfulness, his efforts to protect his family against the hardships of poverty. When we told him so, the dam burst.
He spoke with passion of having been abandoned as a young boy by his own father, of leaving home by his early teens, and fathering his first son within two years. He spoke of feeling a failure, of the temptation to leave, walk away as his father had.
We did what little we could. He needed a job and a roof over his head more than he did a lawyer.
But he stands to this day as an example for me of what fatherhood should be. It is the reason I am reminded of him on Father’s Day. His sons – the evidence of his existence, the personification of his desire to do better than his father – I am certain were blessed by his presence and his character.
I know I was.
“So Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people, being old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him” (Gen. 35: 29).
Originally posted 6/15/14
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