James W. Wade III
Happy Father's Day to all the fathers; this weekend will be bittersweet for me as this is the first Father's Day I will spend without my father. We have enjoyed each other all these years, and many times I met him at church, and then we hung out afterward.
Sitting down, reflecting on how I will honor him on this day, all I can do is first think of him on that Hammond B3 organ playing and looking at me smiling or giving me the thumbs up. So many fun and good memories which one of my best was him taking me down to The Cleveland Stadium to see the Browns play every Sunday; he started when I was age five and continued until he could not make the walk any more a few years ago. That was our Sunday tradition.
As a young boy, I remember us in the Bleachers, way before they called it the Dawg Pound, my reference to it was the ghetto because most African Americans sat there with their marijuana and drinking (laughing) great times. Before they had the net at the end zone, the football would come in the bleachers, and the police would try to recover the football, and the fans would toss it all around; what a funny sight.
I thought my father was the coolest man on the planet; he droved Cadillacs, dressed nicely, and always smelled good. I grew up wanting to be just like him. But, the older I got, the more I understood those were some big shoes to fill. So many times he told me how proud he was of me, I knew I was not anywhere near what he had accomplished in life.
Back in the day, he was a prominent banker, one of only a few Black bankers who were bankers not just in Community Development but in lending. Because of his influential name in the community, my father helped many Black businesses back in the day: Kings Men Shop, The Fly Shop, and Narlie Roberts, who owned a large amount of McDonald's.
Another fond memory was how he always included me in an event; if he were being honored at the bank, the church, my father would call and ask, son, what will we wear? Of course, he would always let me pick out the color. Even until his very last concert, this conversation would always happen. Even until his very last concert when we wore black suits and yellow ties.
No one in this world is perfect by any means, but my father had a big heart, and I loved his spirit of always wanting to help people. Even from his hospital bed, he was trying to help people; even tho I was getting mad at people calling and realizing him being sick, they had no shame to still ask for money, which they never paid back before he passed. He would often say, "son, it's ok."
I watched my father travel across town to give people rides, treat the church office to lunch regularly. He made sure some families never had a bad Thanksgiving or Christmas. He would go out to stores and purchase toys and food for them and drop it at their house; yes, as I said, he had a big heart.
It's been six months, and not a day goes by that I don't think of him in some way. I missed him calling and us laughing; I miss us going to lunch so often, I miss us just being together enjoying each other. I regret not learning to play the piano because I rebelled against him. I was furious at how he treated my mother and even divorced her. But later realized she was the only woman he decided to marry. I am so glad I moved on to pass all that and spend time and enjoy having my father in my life and us being so much alike.
Getting older, I would hear you look just like your daddy spit you out, and you sound just like your father. So we both realized that, and I would come to his office at the bank, and we would call people, and I would talk and sit up deals, and before I would try to close, he would interrupt and tell the people do you realize you are talking to my son not me and we all could get a big laugh out of that.
I will try my best to remember the good times we had in our life together on this coming Father's Day and try to be strong but trust me, and I have no shame in doing so if I break down. Because I will be thinking of me driving him out of town, to the barbershop, to a restaurant, to church, to work, and even yes to the football game. I am honored to be named after him.
My father was good to me, and I am thankful to have enjoyed his laughter and big heart. If your father is still alive, spend time with him, do let work or any excuse keep you from not doing for your father. I promised you it would be rewarding in so many ways; if you don't, you will regret it for the rest of your life.
Happy Fathers Day dad, I LOVE YOU always!!!