Success in Losing My Dad (10 Years Later)
On Tuesday, October, 19th, 2010, my father Georges Anglade passed away at the age of 59 as a result of cirrhosis of the liver. At the time, I remember being devastated. I couldn’t believe that the man who had pretty much been my guide and protector was gone. You see, my father was a superhero to me. To me, the ranking of men in my life at the time was God, Jesus and then him. I couldn’t think of a dilemma I had prior to his passing that he wouldn’t help me get through. I watched him get up at 4AM everyday to go to work and provide for his family. So when he passed, naturally there was a void. But looking back at the last ten years, his work and legacy hasn’t been in vain. In some crazy way, I’ll even go as far to say that his death lead to me becoming a success.
Now, when we think of the word “success” we must remember that it is subjective. You alone as an individual defines what success means in your very own life. Firstly, I can recall a time where I didn’t think for myself growing up. Every decision that was made was usually made for me by my mother and especially my dad. Growing up in a Haitian household, I, as well as many children of immigrant working-class parents can identify with the grandeur expectations of our families. It was expected that we go to school and make straight A’s. While doing so, it was imperative that you think of your future profession. And that profession for a majority was a very limited one as you had the options of becoming a doctor, lawyer or engineer (of some sort). Hearing my dad say this, for some reason I knew that none of those professions resonated with me. Although I wasn’t sure of my future, I certainly knew that I didn’t want to take part in either of the three.
I remember within the year of my dad’s passing, I decided to be honest and stand up to him for once (well, sort of). I knew I wasn’t interested in either professions and so, I told him that I wanted to be a teacher at the time. Although, I wasn’t sure if teaching was a path I was interested in, I knew that it was time for me to start finding my voice. That the only way I was going to become who I wanted to become was by taking the initiative to represent my own thoughts, intentions and priorities. I remember telling him in our basement: “Dad, I have something to tell you.” “What is it son?” he said with a smile. “Dad, I think I want to become teacher.” As I said this to him, he didn’t say anything for a moment as he looked at me with wandering eyes. “You know that teachers don’t make any money,” he said. “I know Dad but it’s what I really want. I don’t want to do engineering,” I replied. He looked at me for a little while longer and said, “Okay, son, if that’s what you want, do it.”
Looking back at it ten years later, I never knew that teaching would actually become a part of my future. But if there’s one thing I was certain of, it was that I needed to be in control of my destiny. I needed to be happy and that was only going to happen if I made my own choices. Shortly after my father passed, I remember being in so much pain. I was hurting from his loss and I didn’t know how to express it. I was a 19-year-old kid that had to go about navigating the journey of life on his own. However, the more I thought about it, I realized that although it was going to be difficult, the journey itself was certainly doable. My father had equipped me with all the tools necessary to maneuver within a world that didn’t want to see black men such as myself succeed.
As a result of his teachings, I decided to press on and fight for everything that lied before me. If there was one thing I managed to take from my father before his untimely demise it was his work-ethic. Both he and my mother exemplified a diligence that was unmatched as compared to other adults I had seen. Because of that I buried myself in work and grew in the fact that I should never be comfortable in doing just enough and that I always had to strive to be “exceptional”. Thus, if my father was still here, I’m actually not sure of where I’d be. Maybe, I would have listened to him and became an engineer. Maybe there was another path that he would have steered me down as a form and means of making money to be comfortable. However, if there’s one thing that I’m certain of, it’s that he gave me all of the tools necessary to thrive. An insatiable desire for success, a strong work-ethic and humble beginnings.
P.S. I miss you every single day dad. May your memory live on forever. Wap Kon George! ❤
Kevin Anglade is a writer, poet, publisher, scholar, and educator from Queens, New York. Anglade holds a B.A. and M.A. in English literature from the City University of New York (Brooklyn & Queens College). As an educator, Anglade taught English Language Arts in Hartford Public Schools and is an English professor in the General Ed Studies Department at Goodwin University. He currently serves as a Rehabilitation Therapist with at-risk boys for the judicial branch within the state of Connecticut and is the host and producer of The Wise Guys podcast. He enjoys reading, podcasting, jogging and is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection, A Flower That Rose (2021).
Follow him online: @kevinanglade11