Yesterday I had one of those conversations with my father that truthfully prompted me to berate myself for calling him so late (it was after 10:00pm) and having to get it up to pay attention to the endless chatter. But, I scolded and told myself, “that is what you get for taking two days to call him back!” and settled in to pay my dues. Much of the conversation regurgitated others I had heard before, save one – he told me how very sad he was because President Carter has announced he has cancer. I was prepared to treat this topic in much the way I treat many others, allowing it to wash over me, but not permitting it to truly wet me. Until he told me the reason this news affected him.
It seems when he was in office (the President, not my father) one million years ago (okay, 1977-1981), my father needed a favor. And, because he had volunteered on his behalf during his campaign, he (my father) decided to make a tape (there was no YouTube in those days; he went ole school) and sent it to the then-elected President. Well, it took six months and one day Daddy received the tape back in the mail with correspondence acknowledging its receipt and information on resolving his issue.
I was awed! I kept laughing and shaking my head at his (Daddy’s) audacity! But, I should not truly be surprised – if yall remember, just a couple of days ago I penned a post entitled, All… And I Do Mean, All In The Family! where I admitted I was from a lineage of very arrogant folks. Shit, I even stated that they believe this world had been created just for them! So yes, my father contacted the President and, don’t you know the man answered?! Here’s what struck and still resonates hours later… he had every right to ask. Yes indeed. What he did was to “call” the President on the rhetoric he used during his campaign; to ask (well okay, demand) that he backs up promises. That he uses his power (and, knowing my father, I am certain he still believes that because he volunteered, he gave him some of his power!) to assist him. My father bought into and still firmly believes that a President is there to serve the people of his country. To assist his electors. To work for them.
Let’s address this. He is absofuckinglutely correct! That is indeed part of their job; they work for us. But even more importantly, what my father did by asking for what he needed was to refuse to be intimidated by so-called power, to understand his right as a human being and a tax-paying citizen. He elected (no pun intended) to expect the best from an encounter and a man and in doing so, allowed that man the opportunity to rise to the occasion. They both came out winners.
Listen, so very often many of us look at situations, look at people and immediately excuse ourselves. We determine, simply by appearances that it is too big, too impossible, too outrageous, too day-dreamy of us and there is no way we will get our way! We quit long before the starter has even pulled the trigger. So much of what life can look like looks like a situation that calls for our sitting it out on the sideline wishing we could participate; watching others as they step up to podiums to accept our prizes. A shame. I heard once, “The only person standing in your way is you…” So damn true! Sadly, we eliminate ourselves from so much; from too much.
My father taught me a lesson yesterday. Stuck in the middle of his complaining I do not visit/call him enough, why do I work so much/late, am I eating enough/well, why is my daughter being allowed to sleep over at the boyfriend’s home, does her father know (hahahahaha), was a lesson on courage. The courage to first believe that I am entitled to have and the courage to ask for what I need – despite what and who has the ability to affect the outcome. His story about sympathy for a man now battling with cancer because one million years ago that man listened to his story, will resonate with me for a long time to come. And knowing my father, I am certain today I will get a call asking where he could buy a recorder so he can now send the President yet another tape – this time however, offering his help… Stay tuned J
Ask for what you need… you just may get it.