By now, many of you know that I met my father, Chris Truesdale (pictured with me above), on Facebook in 2009 after he responded to an inbox message asking, “Looking for father.” He responded with a “yes” and the rest is history! I had gone 29 years without knowing who my father was so, when he immediately welcomed me into his life, I felt overwhelmed by his dotting care and fatherly affection–something I was not used to.
As men, I don’t think we express enough gratitude for the male role models in our lives as we do for the women who have held it down for us–often alone. But when men do step up and do their part, I feel it’s imperative that we recognize them for it. If you want to learn about how I met my father on Facebook and how our our relationship developed, you can watch this clip I shot back in 2012:
And you can read this longer piece. So, here are 54 reasons why I am happy my dad is alive today!
1. When I took to Facebook looking for my father, Chris Truesdale didn’t hesitate to respond.
2. After bonding over Skype for a year and a half, he invited me to stay with him at his flat in The Bronx, N.Y., until I could find a job. I do not have photos of that cramped space on Clay Ave., but it was this small:
3. After the first day, I learned that he loves beer. He prefers Budweiser.
4. He loves people from Detroit, my hometown. Here, he is with April, a friend of ours he knew years before we met.
5. I’m proud of my Detroit roots, but, as soon as I stepped off the plane at JFK Airport, my father told me that I’m a New Yorker now. Yep, he helped me become a New Yorker and I am lovin’ it!
6. He jokes about me being a Russian spy. Why, you may ask?
7. Because he told me Dave Chappelle told him so.
8. My father served our country in the U.S. Army, but now he makes his living as a street vendor in the Manhattan neighborhood of Soho, where he sells cool things to tourists.
9. And he also meets some cool people from the neighborhood. Like him.
10. And her.
11. And this dude right here.
12. I love my dad’s gift for gab. He was able to use it to convince some guy to let him play around with his Maserati.
13. And when work gets too hectic, he has no problem sleeping on the job, so he can be fresh and happy for the next costumer.
14. Back to my father’s gift for gab. At times, his mouth gets him in trouble and people do this to him. Sometimes, it’s the man at the corner bodega.
14. Other times, it’s his closest friends, like John,who flip him the bird. In his own house.
15. But generally speaking, people LOVE HIM!
16. One of the best things my father ever did was introduce me to my loving New York family.
17. Like my Aunt Candy, who has educated me on why my dad is the way he is.
18. My grandmother.
19. My uncle Leroy. People say we take after each other. Oh and we both call my dad a Supa Old [Expletive] when he starts talking too much smack.
20. My cousin, Liana. My dad says we are the two bougie people in the family. I guess that’s what happens when you learn the difference between a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon.
21. And my other cousin, Preston, who helped me to put pour beer down my dad’s throat when his mouth got too big for his actions.
22. And my dad gave me the best stepmom any man could have. My dad is cool for giving me Maliaka for several reasons:
23. For one, we’re the same age–33– so I can talk to her like a sister on one day and a mom on another. “Hey, that’s too close,” my dad jokes whenever I want to give my mom a hug.
24. And she plays great pranks on my dad, like the time he feel asleep at the job–again. One day, she did something clever to him while he was asleep and I was able to take a photo of him after the fact.
25. He also has his own sense of humor.
26. She makes my dad drop his manly facade and gets him to take silly selfies.
27. And this one.
28. And this cute one here.
29. Most importantly, my stepmom makes my dad happy and that makes him a great father too me. Great pick, dad!
30. Oh, and my dad and I take great selfies too.
31. He says if the ladies give me a double take, it’s all because of him. That face is a bit much, though.
32. Even when he gets sick, he is cool enough to pose for a photo with his son.
33. One thing about meeting my dad late in life is that we can catch up on conversations we missed when I was a teenager. Like his advice about women.
34. And about life in general. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, son. “You can’t clap with one hand.”
35. Because he has made me a New Yorker, we have a family, cross-borough sports rivalry. He lives in Soundview, in The Bronx. I live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
36. Like Spike Lee–even though the filmmaker is from Brooklyn–, my dad will die a New York Knicks fan.
37. I, however, will rep Brooklyn to the grave. Can somebody say, “PLAYOFFS.”
38. And, because of my dad, I eat like a New Yorker. I even eat my pizza like this.
39. And, like him, I am snobbish about my New York ways. Jon Stewart, help me out.
40. But times in New York weren’t ways good. I went a year and a half without a fulltime job. But he always kept me motivated.
41. And when another employer pass on me for a job, he’d make me feel good about myself.
42. Sometimes, when I didn’t have much money, he’d slip me a few dollar bills–even when I didn’t want it.
43. He also made sure I had money for a metro card to go to job interviews.
44. My dad also introduced me to male bonding. We kiss like the Wayans brothers.
45. Society, unfortunately, is not used to males expression affection to each other. So, sometimes, you have to tell people where to go. My dad taught me how to do that and not feel bad about it.
46. But what is especially wonderful about my soon-to-be, four-year relationship with my father is that it is normal. Neither of us is perfect. We disagree about all kinds of things. For example, I think he can be mean sometimes.
47. But that’s fine. I can be sarcastic and he accepts that.
48. That’s what’s most important: We accept each other for who we are and improve each other when we can.
49. My father showed me how much he loved me when we appeared on the “Today” show on Father’s Day weekend in 2013.
50. He said that, had he known where I was , he would have come to claim me. But after I told him my grandmother would have had none of that, he said would have worked something out with her. Inez Starr, my grandmother, did a fine job, he tells me. Dad gets a gold star for honoring my late grandmother (pictured below, when I was 8 or 9 years old.).
51. When he was asked if he had any doubts about me being his son, he said, no. “Because, I knew he was mine,” he said. That made me feel so:
52. Then, there was the the part where he said, “we don’t have to go to Maury.”
53. Indeed, he is my father. And, because of him, he makes me want to be a father someday too. Thanks for responding to that Facebook message!
54. And happy 54th birthday, dad. I LOVE YOU!