Learning is forever: Fathers leading the way

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The joy of fatherhood: Helpful tips for fathers and men who want to become fathers

by Morris Turner

As summer winds down and many of us go through the annual ritual of preparing our children for re-entry into school, how many of us think to ourselves, “I wish I had finished high school,” or even pondered, “I wonder if I could have gone to college?” Now, with our lives so tightly bound by jobs, relationships and the ongoing responsibilities of day to day life, it can seem like a fantasy to even imagine such things.

Travis Washington, a father leading by example and loving every minute
Travis Washington, a father leading by example and loving every minute

No matter where we stopped in the educational process and no matter what the reason, we all have more within us to share and to learn. For some of us it was financial resources. We just didn’t have the dollars to cover the cost of school. Others of us just got side tracked – satisfied with a J-O-B that paid the bills and was so-called secure.

You know, one of those good county or state jobs folks used to talk about. “Man, he’s got it made; he works for the state.” Or truck driving, being a welder, doing hair or any of a hundred such occupations that would consistently “pay the bills.”

And there were also those who got caught up in the bright lights that attracted our “starved egos,” as Dr. John Henrik Clarke puts it. Looking good, rapping hard and engaged in “flavor of the month” relationships. Going nowhere except in our own limited minds.

No matter where we stopped in the educational process and no matter what the reason, we all have more within us to share and to learn.

We can be and do more, but what does it take to awaken the “authentic” fire that once burned when we were young or even in our adulthood? No matter the reason – and for each of us it will be different – it’s never too late to change “what if” to “maybe” to “I’ll give it a try.”

I have spoken with more than one middle-aged man, depressed and disillusioned, because their lives ran off track and landed them in the welcoming arms of the judicial system. “My life is ruined,” I’ve heard them say. “Man, you’re just getting started; that was merely one chapter in the book of your life,” I tell them. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing a father who represents the “never give up” spirit it takes to keep yourself moving forward as a student of life.

We can be and do more. It’s never too late to change “what if” to “maybe” to “I’ll give it a try.”

Travis Washington, age 59, told me that it was time for a change and that the Lord guided his path, not just back to school, but showed him how his life’s journey could benefit many others. Mr. Washington is a multifaceted man who served in the military and is a father of a blended family. He shared with me that he got caught up in many of the “traps” of life and, while participating in a substance abuse recovery program, first got the notion that maybe he could help others challenged with similar issues. Now, several years after that “ah ha moment,” as Oprah calls it, he has enrolled in college for the first time since 1975.

His short term goal is to complete the AODS certification requirements allowing him to work as a substance abuse counselor. He is deeply motivated to help others, and his own family is already impacted by the positive steps he is taking. His wife and daughter are both talking about re-entering school and moving forward with their educations.

Travis has been a super star all his life – musically inclined, creative writer, confident public speaker and leader of people. Now he’s creating his own stage to show the world what he has to offer. As he says, “I thought I couldn’t do it, but I stepped out on faith and the Lord has guided my path.”

Travis is creating his own stage to show the world what he has to offer. As he says, “I thought I couldn’t do it, but I stepped out on faith and the Lord has guided my path.”

It’s time for all of us as fathers to “step out on faith” and take a chance to be more than we were yesterday. We have nothing to lose but time – and that’s passing with or without us. Travis is doing it; so can we.

It’s time for all of us as fathers to “step out on faith” and take a chance to be more than we were yesterday.

Morris Turner, the father of two sons, ages 39 and 35, was a community worker with the Black Panther Party. Over the past 45 years he has worked with children and young people in a variety of settings, including as preschool teacher, career counselor, family mentor and sports coach. He is also an author and recognized researcher in the area of African American settlement in the United States, but his greatest pleasure today is learning to be a good grandpa. He can be reached at missnpages@comcast.net.

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