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My Father, My Reflections

Introduction

Occasionally, I will step out of the Thirst No More Corporation world to offer personal reflections or ideas. With Father's Day approaching on Sunday, June 19th, I feel the need to write about the old man for the first time in a couple of years. It's worth mentioning that I bid farewell to my father on Friday, February 6, 2015, and held his services on Saturday, June 14, 2015. Indulge me as I share some of my cherished memories with you in the upcoming paragraphs.


Memories from the Past


  1. Recollections of my early days include visits to my maternal grandparents' home in Northeast DC, near the Prince George's County line in Maryland. Despite its small size compared to today's standards, the house felt spacious during my childhood, accommodating many people. I recall a particular instance when I, at the age of around 6 or 7, attempted to taste a drink far too mature for me (bourbon that is), which later became a challenge in my teenage and early adult years. Despite struggling with the taste, I eventually managed to finish it, under the watchful eye of my father.

  2. One aspect of my father that I still admire is his role as my protector. He belonged to a generation that valued traditional masculinity and physical discipline. Despite his imposing stature, my father always defended my interests and passions, even when they differed from societal expectations of manliness. His support for my creative pursuits, such as writing, singing, and painting, set him apart from other men of his time.

  3. Among the cherished memories of my early years is the time spent with my father cooking and bonding over fried fish. I fondly remember assisting him in preparing the fish, relishing the taste of the crispy coating and the shared moments over a sizzling pan. The connection we forged during those cooking sessions remains a treasured part of my childhood.


From Teen To Adulthood


Isn't it remarkable how as we age, there seem to be fewer limitations placed upon us? This is a period where many young individuals tend to disregard the wisdom passed down by their fathers. I, too, fell into this pattern, foolishly believing that I was more intelligent and knowledgeable than my father. Upon graduating from high school with a degree in fine art, I felt invincible and convinced that I possessed all the solutions. I made the mistake of attending a Haitian party with a Jamaican girl, deciding to pull an all-nighter and neglecting to inform my parents of my safety. This marked the beginning of my rebellious phase; leading me to eventually leave my parents' home, never to return (so I thought). I enrolled in art college for fine art (later shifting to graphic design) and by the first semester of my sophomore year, I found myself failing academically. While my mother was disheartened by the news, my father remained composed and supportive – a quality I failed to fully appreciate due to my arrogance and foolishness. My father seemed to have faith in the long-term perspective; he had invested too much in my education for me to completely falter. Consequently, I found myself a college dropout with no marketable skills, navigating life for the first time without my father's guidance. The journey was arduous, the challenges daunting, and the obstacles seemed insurmountable. However, I was fortunate to have a father who prayed fervently, believed in the power of Jesus' Name, and trusted the process. Despite having a wife and a three-year-old son, I still consider the years between 19 and 29 as my lost years. My father never gave up on me, and upon realizing the squandered opportunities, I finally embraced Christ as my Savior, sought my father's advice humbly, and picked myself up. The young man who once rejected his father's teachings gradually transformed into a man who recognized that he had all the necessary support and guidance in his father's capable presence.


The Latter Years and Conclusion


March 31, 2000 holds a special place in my father's heart as it was the day I delivered my inaugural sermon and obtained my ministerial license. This event was particularly meaningful for my father, given the contrast it presented to his own father's strict demeanor. He took immense pride in my new vocation, often proudly discussing it in public. And did I mention, my subject was titled, "A Father's Love." This pride led to a confrontation with a disrespectful woman who mistreated my daughter at a crowded gathering. In a show of support, my father intervened, emphasizing my status as a minister and the need for respect. Reflecting on the incident now, my daughter Naomi and I find amusement in the memory of my father's defense of me while I defended her. It remains a lighthearted anecdote that we fondly recall.


My father bestowed upon me one final honor by agreeing to join Thirst No More Corporation as a board member emeritus. It was like a scene from "The Godfather," where I likened his role to that of Tom Hagan, the family consigliere to Don Vito Corleone. He was so dedicated to his role that during a phone call with me and our vice president, he reprimanded me for not following one of his suggestions. He was a strong-willed man, and I admired his deep involvement in our organization. It saddens me that he passed away just a year before meeting my current wife, Myra, and our three additional children (5 adult children in all...Lilith, Aimee, Lewis IV, Naomi, Angel), along with grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and a grandson-in-law.


Lewis A. McIlwain Jr., my father, faced health challenges in his later years and departed peacefully on his own terms. Writing this has been emotionally draining, but I feel I have shared what was needed for now. To those who have lost their fathers, my heartfelt condolences go out to you. For those who are estranged from their fathers, I urge you to try to mend the relationship before it's too late. And for those who have a loving bond with their biological father or any father figure, cherish them with all your heart, as time is precious for us all.


Peace & Blessings until I post again,


Mac


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