I guess I will start by saying I don't know where to start. Everyone thinks their father is the best father to ever father (most people at least). I won't assert such a claim as it seems too clichÃ©. Instead i will tell you the type of father he is and let the facts speak for themselves.
- The type of father that doesn't let a B slide in a math class. Education was not something my parents took lightly. My brothers and I were held to a very high standard when it came to our education, especially math. At a young age my father would take me to the classes he was teaching at MSU from time to time. Mostly to run the camera for footage no one would ever watch, but I would also end up learning during the process. My cousins used to make fun of us for going to "Math and science" camps during the summer, we had to because my dad was the one running them! Yet again, something I took for granted until my first few days in college, a time when most freshman are overwhelmed when they see the amount of school work and the new social atmosphere. Not the Roberts boys. I felt prepared and ready to tackle what the professors were throwing at me because of all the extra homework my parents had given me over the years. Did it work? Two sons graduated from Georgia Tech, and the third son from the school up north that shall not be named.
- He always had my back (unless it was a teacher saying I did something wrong). Once, I was being bullied on my long walk to 6th grade. After a couple days of this I decided to tell my dad. Did he go to the principle? Find the bullies parents and have a nice "sit down"? No, he followed me to school and hung back just enough that when the bullies showed up like they always do, he sprung into action. For the next 6 years those two didn't come near me, and even feared me a little. It was nice...
- Those long trips to Georgia. About once a year, my dad and I would get into his Nissan Z and embark on a journey to Macon to see my grandparents. Just me and him. We had long talks about school and life. I learned to love Ottis Redding and the Jackson 5, though the Jazz he played never seemed to stick. He regaled me with stories about how he invented wine cooler by mixing kool-aide and rum in college, or his grand idea for satellite radio. Sometimes there was some adventure. Once I woke up in the middle of the night to find the car pulled off to the side of the road, my dad no where in sight. When I called out he appeared outside of the car changing a tire. Another time we stopped at a restaurant in Tennessee where we just happen to meet Alex Haley, and I subsequently embarrassed him by not knowing who Mr. Haley was. I spent the next 5 days at my grandmas house watching Roots on VHS.
- His effect on my friends lives. To this day, my friends from Lansing will tell you about the Math Club my dad started in Junior High, something we all thought at the time as nerdy but still had fund hanging out and solving logic puzzles. They will tell you that while we thought it made us outcasts, the critical thinking skills we learned in that club became very important later in life. Here is one of his favorites. There's a duck in front of two ducks, a duck behind two ducks, and a duck in the middle. How many ducks are there?
- SOHCAHTOA and the dipstick. While most dads where teaching their kids about carburetors and fishing rods, our dad was busy explaining complex trigonometric ideals to us. Once, my car was making a funny noise, so i gave my dad a call as a son should. My dad asked me to check the oil. "Oil?" I said, "How do I do that?" He asked me to pop the hood and find the dipstick. "What's a dipstick?" I asked in return. "Boy, you don't know what a dipstick is?" "No dad! Too much SOHCAHTOA, not enough cars."
These words are only a small fraction of what my father means to me, a fraction where the numerator is love, and the denominator is knowledge. Sure, I have a credit card made out to "Benjmain Roberts" because I still often misspell my own name, but I have the greatest model of a father and husband anyone could ask for. Every bit of the man I am today is just me trying to be my father. He set a very high bar in life, and given his beginnings, that was a hard thing to do. He was firm with the belt, and giving with the love. Even in high school when I worked late at a movie theater and would come home and pass out on the couch, only to be asked to move by my dad who was kicked out of the bed for snoring, I knew that was love. Every punishment, love. Every bit of yardwork, how to work hard. Every bit of extra math home work, preparedness. Every time he threw a party for mothers odd/prime numbered birthdays, that surprises keeps a marriage alive. He taught me so many things that I haven't even realized yet. His spirit may be gone, but his legacy lives on, and I cant wait to see what he teaches me next.