Street Sense Media Staff

March 29th will be a day that I’ll always remember. At midnight , I received a phone call from my father saying he felt sick. Tears started streaming down my face, I call a neighbor to see if my fathers ok, but was resigned to the fact that his journey was coming to an end.

I remember vividly the conversation we had. He really wanted me to come down for a visit. I tried to keep him on the phone until help arrived but he said his body was cold, and exhausted, I didn’t know that his life was leaving his body. He told me he loved me and needed rest. Good night were the last words I heard from him.

I went to bed but didn’t sleep, worried about my father. A neighbor said he was ok and resting. Falling half asleep, I noticed it was morning and my dad didn’t call me. My premonitions were confirmed when a friend said “We are sorry, Bishop’s dead.

My father, Bishop T. Mcneil, age 73, “died.” When I first heard these words two emotions, overcame me, grief and relief.

For those that never experienced caring for the aged and elderly, it can be a very demoralizing experience. Besides dealing with the condition of the person you’re are taking care of, you have to deal with a litany of social workers, doctors and assistants. It’s the free market at its worst, everyone wants you to sign papers. Someone tells you they can’t do this unless you sign that. Then there are relatives, friends, living wills, the power of attorneys and people that call themselves friends of the family but are Judases in your midst.

For a person that doesn’t care about materialism, it broke my heart to see adults that never said a kind word about my father praise him in his death.

I hope I never will be named executor or power of attorney for anything. My fathers’ death made me realize how much I detest the pursuit of mammon.

For all the squabbling over family jewels, all that I wanted was the father I remember when he was younger and stronger. My father was the poster child of black self-reliance. He was a leader, he never went to anyone for anything but when someone was in need he opened his home to anyone that needed a place.

It tore me to pieces seeing a war vet deteriorate to wearing a diaper, being bathed and spoon fed.

Although his body broke down, his mind was still sharp. He loved watching CNBC and business news channels, as well as fishing and politics. The day before his death he informed me about the missing airplane in Malaysia and other news of the day.

He also was my biggest critic. He wasn’t happy with me criticizing Barack Obama and black leaders such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. He hated people such as Cornel West and Tavis Smiley. He also said when I attack black people, I am giving aid to the right wing.

As a former union boss, he schooled me about how the Democrats gave Americans, Social Security and Medicare, while Lyndon B. Johnson passed Civil Rights. He told me you should be grateful that liberals and bleeding hearts whom you chastise paved the way for you to be ungrateful. His dying wish was that I stay supportive of civil rights and defend those that need a voice instead of defending the privileged.

As I see my father’s body for the last time, I am happy many loved my father and traveled long distances to see him. Jersey people are rugged characters and my father exemplified New Jersey. Tough, self-reliant and compassionate.

As a child, I didn’t care for his heavy-handedness and strictness to parenting. But today I love him for how he raised me. If he didn’t instill a moral compass by disciplining me, and allowing me to do what I want, I truly believe I wouldn’t be here eulogizing my father. It would be the reverse with him eulogizing me.

As a surviving son, I only have memories of my father.
Daddy, I love you and will truly miss you.