My father, Daniel Jenerson III, died September 19, 1992. At his funeral I was surprised to hear remarks from neighborhood families about how he helped them in their time of need…diapers when their children were born…food when there was none…helping with auto repair costs. Who was this man – my father – who were they talking about?
In full disclosure I admit that as a child my favorite activity was reading…The Bobbsey Twins, Little Women – need I say more? As an African-American child, these books gave me a very distorted view of my family life. I was 10 years old when my father bought the five-bedroom home we grew up in. I was oblivious to how he managed to buy it – I just figured (based on the books I read) that it was about time! Oh my goodness!
I didn’t realize until after his passing that I didn’t appreciate the man my father was. I took his love for our family for granted. I took for granted the long hours he worked so that his children could have a stay-at-home mother. I took for granted that we never went to bed hungry. I took for granted that we always had clothes, shoes, heat and lights. I took for granted that he never walked away from his wife and children. I took his love for granted.
My son was 3 years old when his grandfather died. He didn’t get to know the man who had a solid foundation of faith and ensured his children attended Sunday School each week. He didn’t get to know the man who believed in one having morals and personal standards. He didn’t get to know the man who instilled in his children a strong school and work ethic. He didn’t get to know the man who felt it was so important for his children to appreciate his wife, my mother. He didn’t get to know the man who loved and sacrificed for his family.
Life teaches us when we’re ready to learn. “Treat everyone like you want to be treated. Love your family, work hard, trust in God, and respect your parents.”
I know without a doubt I would not be the woman I am today if it had not been for my father.
When you know better, you do better – Maya Angelou
Ruth Jenerson is 58 years old and a Rochester OASIS member. She is an ordained minister and is the Director of Morning Start Community Services - a volunteer community outreach with its focus on school age children (5-12 years) and their families. She has one son, Jordan, age 24.