By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer
This Father’s Day, The Island News would like to recognize a man who represents the qualities of a first-class dad and one local author (also a dad) who has penned an essay on Fatherhood. And we also want to thank the countless dads in the Lowcountry who make sacrifices daily for their families, and especially those who serve in our U.S. military.
David Black is a dad you’re likely to see at all the games, at all the recitals and especially at all the school functions. But he’s also a father who shines when no one is watching. He’s a listener, a friend, a role model, a coach, a teacher and all the things that make a good dad. How can you tell? Take a look at his kids. Both of his children, Shuler and Mills, recently earned superlatives at Beaufort Middle School as “Best All-Around.”
Measuring the innate characteristics of a good dad is impossible. Examining the behavior of his children is the only real variable in the equation. And David Black and his wife, Kristi, have raised polite, confident and well-rounded young adults. You don’t get awards for being “best father,” but if you ask Shuler or Mills Black, they will agree their “dad is the best.”
Black, an attorney with Howell, Gibson and Hughes works hard at the law firm all day and still makes the time he spends with his children absolute priority. This is what his children had to say about their dad, David Black:
Shuler Black, 14, says, “He has a will to support and please while ensuring proper principles like no other. He readily attends events of mine from practices to tournaments and is constantly giving me great advice regarding character and athletics. The truth is that I couldn’t have been blessed with a better dad.”
Mills Black, 12, says, “My dad supports me both at school and in my dance classes. He is always there for me and is always helping me out when I need him. He encourages me to do my best in everything that I do. All in all, he is the rock of our family, and we are so thankful to have such a special dad.”
John Warley, a Beaufort-area writer, is featured in the new book, “This I Believe: On Fatherhood.” Based on the acclaimed public radio series, this collection features 60 statements of belief about the many experiences of fatherhood. These essays were drawn from the more than 100,000 submissions made to the This I Believe radio show and website (www.thisibelieve.org) over the past five years. Warley is also the author of the novel “Bethesda’s Child.”
Here is Warley’s essay, “Lingering at the Doors”:
When my four children were younger, I relished one ritual above all others. Hours after their bedtime and often after mine, I walked down the carpeted hallway dividing their rooms. I walked barefoot, as soundless as a cat; silence reinforced the intimacy of the ritual. I paused briefly at each door. I didn’t open it. I just stood there, thinking about the child inside, and about how if I opened the door, I’d find a son or my daughter asleep in their favorite position, clothes or toys or books or stuffed animals or soccer shin guards strewn all about depending on whose room it happened to be. It wasn’t important for me to actually see that scene. I’d seen it often enough when I told them goodnight.
But there was a time, a couple of years before, when I couldn’t tell them goodnight because my wife and I had separated. During the year apart, I stayed at a friend’s summer home. I walked the wooden floors there, my footsteps echoing in the hollow hallway. I tried to hang a couple of pictures on the wall of my room, but they didn’t belong in that place, and neither did I.
During that long, difficult year, my wife and I stayed in touch and sought counseling. When we finally reunited, my nocturnal trips down the carpeted hall began. It was only important that I knew they were in there, as safe as an enclosed room in a suburb could make them and sure to wake the next morning. No doubt some of the feeling that came over me during these forays was linked to my role as guardian, the high sheriff of 4 Deans Circle. If a fire broke out, I would evacuate them. If an intruder entered, I would confront him. If a Biblical thunderstorm shook the house, those still too young to sleep through it could take refuge in our king-size bed at the end of the hall.
I knew that this span of years (the oldest was thirteen and the youngest, six) would be meteorically brief. Soon one would be driving, then another, out on the highway, where I had no control over them or anyone else, a high sheriff with no badge who waited for the call that mercifully never came. But when I took these midnight strolls, those years of anxiety were still in the future, a fact that enabled me to savor the moment outside each door because I knew they were all there, all four, safe and protected.
In December my wife and I will celebrate our thirty-ninth anniversary. We rarely talk about those dark days, and when we do, we express our mutual and profound joy that we were able to reconcile. Our youngest turned thirty this year. Grandchildren populate family photos. The kids seem happy and productive. My fear of an empty hall is long past, and I believe in the moments I lingered outside each door, reminding myself that it is not just fire, or storms, or highways that can harm a child.
“LINGERING AT THE DOORS,” Copyright ©2011 by JOHN WARLEY. From the book This I Believe: On Fatherhood, edited by Dan Gediman, Copyright ©2011 by This I Believe, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint.