Since kindergarten, I vividly remember waking up to the smells of buttered toast, eggs and crunchy bacon each morning after my father awakened me.
He was the breakfast chef in my home, the motivator, the main disciplinarian and the one I leaned on through good and bad times.
He made me believe in myself and feel that “everything would be OK,” because “tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”
He turned 71 last month and his no-nonsense, even-handed approach to discipline of students at Scotlandville Magnet High has earned him respect — and an occasional student-posted Instagram of “Mr. Warren” doling out a lesson on correct behavior.
At Perlis Clothing, he has become the loyal and dependable salesman longtime customers have counted on since his days at Cohn Turner in Westmoreland Shopping Center.
Whether he’s disciplining students, holding parent conferences or selling suits, my father makes everyone feel special with his big warm smile and words of encouragement.
In the ’70s and ’80s, he worked as an insurance agent and manager, putting his customers at ease because he believed in the products and services he sold.
On weekends, particularly during football season in the ’70s, my father loved tailgating before Southern University games and volunteering with his alma mater’s Quarterback Club.
When we were younger, he and my mother took us to Showtown Twin Drive-In on Airline Highway, where he hooked the speakers on the car’s roll-down windows and lit a cigarette to help keep mosquitoes away. He quit smoking about 30 years ago.
My father also supported my pet habit. Before my sister was born in 1981, he got me hamsters, fish, cats, a turtle, a dog and Pollyanna the parakeet.
After my father and mother divorced some 25 years ago, he helped my sister and me adjust to the changes.
He faithfully drove me to and from LSU each day for years, so I could pursue my dream of becoming a writer. Sometimes he’d pop in his Zig Ziglar motivation tapes.
After my father beat prostate cancer in 2002 and underwent heart bypass surgery in 2006, he became more health conscious and active.
In just the past eight months, he climbed a mountain in Peru and hiked along the Inca ruins in Machu Picchu. Today, he attends his two granddaughters’ dance recitals, my son’s football games, takes them to the zoo and sometimes brings them on summer trips with his wife.
The gratitude I feel toward my father is undeniable. He is my cheerleader and the man who has always let me know that “if you make it up in your mind that you can do it, then you can.”
Happy Father’s Day.
Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.