Friday, November 12, 2010

Inaugural Upbeat Dad of the Week Spotlight!

Part of the mission of The Upbeat Dad is to highlight men who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to be super dads. In carrying out this mission, each Friday we will highlight an individual deserving of being recognized as Upbeat Dad of the Week.

The criteria for this recognition is that these individuals must do something special that helps to shape and mold the lives of their kids and others in their sphere of influence. With that said, as I think of those who have positively impacted my life, I can think of no person more deserving of the inaugural Upbeat Dad of the Week feature than my dad, Mr. T.P. Walters.
This year, my parents celebrated 46 years of marriage – a milestone that is almost beyond comprehension in our society these days. They both have been mentors to my siblings and me in so many ways. And our lives are so much better as a result.
My father, T.P. Walters is the product of a single parent home. His mom and siblings lived in a small house in the rural part of Jamaica. His mother was a seamstress with a 9th grade education. They didn’t have much money but they had love.
My dad and his siblings would wake up before school to work the fields – planting and reaping crops and taking care of their animals – goats and pigs. After school, they repeated their morning chores. With these humble beginnings, they learned the lesson that hard work was the key to getting ahead in life.

After he graduated from the school in his local community, he left home to pursue higher education. He worked while going through school, always sending money home to ensure his mother was well taken care of. Upon graduating from college, he returned to his small community to become principal at the school where he was educated. He met and married my mom shortly thereafter.
Let me pause at this point and ask the question: Why does this make him an upbeat dad? So many others have a similar story to share. Well, as Paul Harvey would say, here is “the rest of the story:”

As the school principal, he quickly became a father figure and mentor to many. He knew of the challenges that parents faced in raising kids, particularly kids from single parent households. He and my mom were biological parents of four children - my 3 siblings and me. However, they were parents to many more.
He was a trusted figure in the community – both in church and school. I do not recall one moment when it was just our family of 6 living in the home. There were always other young people – children of family members or friends – who lived with us. My parents were entrusted with the task of educating and raising other people’s children so that they would become responsible citizens. They loved each one, as if they were their own.
Our family migrated to the United States almost 30 years ago but still today people speak of the work both my parents did. There are people in our old community who view my father with such reverence because of how he helped to shape and mold their lives and those of their children. There are places in Jamaica that I could visit today and get the royal treatment, simply by saying, “I’m Teacher Walters’ son.” His influence has literally impacted a generation.

I have learned so much from my father. I will highlight a few of these lessons here:
  • It is better to give than to receive. He has given selflessly to help others to accomplish their life goals. It wasn’t an inconvenience for him to teach others the lessons that have guided his life – rather it was a responsibility.
  • Be involved in the community. Each of us has the responsibility to “brighten the corners where we are.” With community involvement, we help to create synergy that enriches our communities.
  • Education is key.  With education you can accomplish everything you desire. He taught us the famous quote: “"Labor for learning before you grow old, for learning is better than silver and gold. Silver and gold will vanish away, but a good education will never decay."
  • Respect for authority. As a school principal and the head of our home, he was a strict disciplinarian. He wasn’t mean-spirited by any means. He just emphasized the importance of us respecting the authorities placed over us - in the home, school and in the world-at-large.
  • Love for family. The cornerstone of life is the family structure. Studies repeatedly show that closely knit two-parent households produce well-adjusted, responsible citizens. My siblings and I all have advanced degrees and are successful in our own endeavors. We have accomplished many good things, which we all attribute to the environment in which we grew up.

If you would like to nominate your dad, your granddad, your husband, friend or relative for this feature, please do so by emailing us at: Tell us of the person’s story and the exceptional qualities that make him an upbeat dad.
Have a great weekend! And always be upbeat for your kids!

The Upbeat Dad

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