I work very hard and am attending college to obtain my degree in the Human Service field. Writing makes me feel alive and gives me the opportunity to touch those whom I would not be able to otherwise. Last but not least, I have been blessed with two amazing daughters who love me completely and support my dreams. Feel free to contact me with questions, concerns or feedback.
Each afternoon, I am greeted by a co-worker. Although we hold different responsibilities within the same facility, we get along pretty well. After our formalities, we chat about things in common. Work, children and the previous weekend activities fill our conversations. Since our initial meeting, each day has been pleasant and intriguing to say the least.
Jeff is your typical single guy. He lights up when he talks about the celebrities he has met. He is a mechanic by trade. I recall one instance when he had to run to throw a belt on his sister's car. It is within his nature to help others. One day, he stated his son would be stopping by. I asked if this teenager would be someone I would recognize. As proud as a peacock, he stated, "He looks just like me". When his teenager arrived, I noticed the same demeanor within this child as I do his father. Humble and reserved, yet within him, the spirit of a man.
As we converse, we talk about singlehood and the blessing it brings. We are both fairly outgoing, personable people. What impresses me about Jeff is the amount of respect I know he has for me. Not once during our conversations has it turned into a negative connotation or an uncomfortable silence. It has become a pleasantry which I look forward to. I consider Jeff a good guy. He is respectful, kind and everyone really likes him. He is hard-working, holding two jobs. He seems to be one in a million, so I asked him to help me out. I wanted to know what his upbringing was. Surprisingly, he agreed to answer some questions. My desire was to obtain a blueprint, a road-map of sorts. Simply put, a guide for parents on how to raise a boy into a man of honor.
Jeff was raised by his mother, a single parent. His childhood was filled with three sisters as well. He was raised primarily between Milwaukee and Mississippi. He had a close, loving relationship with his Grandfather. He considers Grandpa an amazing guy. This role model at the age of 88 held few mechanics tools. Yet, he always found a way to ensure his family was taken care of. Blood, sweat and tears poured from this man through his hands. Arch, as he was known, was a restless soul, always on the go. Although mechanics run in the family, Jeff did not get a break. At the age off 17, he blew a head gasket on his car. His Grandfather took him by the hand and together they repaired the engine. His friends included neighborhood children and most times they could be found on the basketball court and playground. Although as a teenager he was slightly rebellious, his troubles were similar to that of his age group.
Jeff recalls the discipline in his home. His mother was a "no joke" type of gal. She was serious about raising her children yet knew a healthy balance regarding love and respect. He mentions that being a class clown had its consequences. His mother was called regarding his behavior and spend an entire week in Jeff's class to ensure his shenanigans would cease. As an older teenager, he thought he would pull a fast one on his mother. Curfew had long passed and he believed that mom would be asleep. Upon entry into his home, he stepped on his sleeping mother who had camped out by the front door. He recalls the fundamentals of his home as being respect for others and hard work.
As a parent himself, Jeff believes in passing on his family values to his own children. His first child, a daughter, arrived when Jeff was 22 and he has since had two more. He attributes his parenting style to his mother and Grandfather. His dream is to see them become independent and raise successful families of their own. To see them achieve their dreams would truly mean he has succeeded in his life.
What holds Jeff a step above the rest is the fact that he had a healthy balance of love, discipline and consequences. I have yet to hear excuses regarding why he cannot succeed. He was taught appreciation and to also live life to the fullest. When life gets him down, he recalls words his Grandfather told him, "It could always be worse". He works hard and always has a smile on his face.
Oh yes, there is one last thing I failed to mention. Jeff is a forty-plus year old African American male living within the city of Milwaukee. He agreed to be the subject of my latest article. Together, I believe, we can begin to break the stereotypes of those who feel that men like him do not exist. Which, in fact, they do. And that, Regis, is my final answer.