When I was young (age 10-12) I was on the track team throwing Shot-put, discus, and Javelin (age 12). And the one thing I hated about being on the track team was traveling to a different city to compete. We would be there all night waiting for everyone to get done and we didn’t get back to the hotel until late at night just to go to sleep late and be up early in the morning.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about is a lesson I learned from my own dad years ago. A lesson that stayed with me even now as I write this down. This story takes place in Los Angeles and it was my third and final year on the track team.
I just told my dad that I was done with my events and he asked was my brother done as well. I told him he was done and he dad told me to get my stuff and get my brother; because we’re leaving. I told him okay and headed up the bleachers to grab my things and my brother. Before I had a chance to make it halfway up the bleacher I heard the head coach tell my dad. That we had to stay and support the rest of the team. My dad gave him a look that I never saw before. But I would come custom to it in the future, but that’s for another time.
My dad looked at me and gave me the same instructions as before. Without saying a word and not looking at the head coach I went and did exactly what I was told to do. I told my brother we were leaving, and my brother grabbed his stuff and hurried down the bleachers toward our dad. The coach walked away not looking at us or saying a word, and my dad turned back to us and asked where our mom was. We literally pointed in the direction she was in without saying a word and he told us to go get her. Long story short we left and made it home that night.
Ever since that day, it bugged me a lot about why my dad made that look. Let alone what did he say to my coach that made him looked so pissed. I would never gather the courage to ask him until I was older…a lot older. At this time my parents got divorced and my dad was living in his new house at the time. I went to go visit for the reason I totally forgot about. But I asked him about that day. At first, he told me he didn’t know what it was that I was talking about. So, I kept going hoping to jog his memory of the event. I was successful.
He started off by telling me how my coach was full of himself and that he wasn’t too happy about how we were treated. I asked him what he meant exactly, and he told me the following:
“When your brother was racing that morning, I just heard your mother cheering for him. When you had to go throw it was me and your mother showing you support. No one else, so when he said that Y’all had to stay and support the rest of the team. I told him my kids didn’t have to do shit. They did what they came here to do, they represented you well and now they’re going home. Y’all had school the next morning and I had to go to work. I know he was pissed, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to sit there and let him mistreat my kids and expect them to show support to a team that didn’t show it to them.”
I sat there for a minute taking what he just told me one word at a time. I asked him what I should take from that he looked at me with a straight face and said to me:
“Your Mother and I won’t be here forever. All you have is your brother and no one else. Always have each other backs and never turn on each other. Because at the end of the day it’s only you and your brother.”
That was six years ago, and those words still ring true to me. Words that I carry with me each and every day. I could get married and have children. Make many friends down the road. But at the end of it all, it’s me and my brother.
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with my voice. Well it simple, sometimes using your voice includes standing up not only to yourself but for what you believe in. My father loathes when his kids are mistreated especially since he taught us the complete opposite. Sometimes My brother and I don’t even know how to hate if we really tried. But I guess that’s a good thing.
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