Donna C. Terrell

I Was Just Thinkin'

“I Raise My Own Child”–A One-In-a-Million-Father

on June 14, 2012

I have great intros, so I’ve been told. Thank you for the compliment. I think I do, too. I believe I know how to hook a reader within the first couple of lines. But this one poses a happy dilemma. How do I pay homage to the best man I know, the person I love and respect the most in this world? Where do I even begin to write about my father?

Here’s one thing that’s on my mind as I start this. Dad told me about 10 years ago that when my mother died, her well-meaning relatives offered to take me back with them to Mississippi.

My father told them emphatically, “I raise my own child.”

I guess they figured my father was a young man; he probably wanted to start afresh with a new wife or whatever. I had to ask about that whole exchange when I spoke with an older cousin sometime after I was made aware of this. She explained that the way of thinking at that time was “the best place for Mae’s daughter is with Mae’s people.” It wasn’t hard to hide my outrage at the thought of relatives I didn’t know taking me to a place and way of life I didn’t know–on the heels of losing my mother yet–and their thinking my father would just easily pawn me off. The cousin said, “Well, he’s one in a million.”


I had a wonderful life and still do because of my father. He gave me a wonderful childhood, and now in adulthood, his wisdom and friendship is such a rich blessing. How do I honor him? I have no idea, but I’ll tell you some tidbits about Dad.

  • When my mother died, Dad couldn’t cook much. My mother did all the cooking. She’d see Dad parking the car in the garage and start fixing his plate. All Dad had to do was come in, hang up his coat, wash his hands and sit down at the table. Now he had to cook for us. Those were some lean days, I tell ya! Dad didn’t do the fast food route–he learned to cook and cook quite well, actually. He would boastfully proclaim we were in “Don Coleman’s Soul Kitchen.” Even now if you dare to give him a compliment on a meal, he’ll say, “I know it.”
  • Once I disrespected my mother. She wouldn’t let me go outside, so I stomped my foot and yelled, “Forget you, then!” Dad was on me within seconds and tore my tail up.
  • I didn’t see Dad much during the week cause he was working, but I loved to hang with him on the weekends, even if it was just watching TV.
  • Dad always listened to jazz and smooth instrumentals. I developed a love for that kind of music at an early age. My mother was surprised that I’d change the R&B radio station to Dad’s favorite.
  • Dad took me to the circus on my 7th birthday.
  • Dad bought me a cool red and white bike for my 8th birthday. I was the only girl on the block who had a 3-speed bike.
  • My one beef with my father–and I hold it against him to this day–is when I was 8 or 9 years old he got rid of my kitten. Why, I don’t know. He took me and the kitten to a grocery store and instructed me to just leave the kitten there. Dad’s rationale was that the kitten would be fed. Yeah, right. I guess he compensated by letting me have a couple of other kittens and a dog in the coming years. But still…
  • Dad and I would butt heads over curfew when I was a teenager and even until I turned 21! I told him no one would hang out with me if I always had to be home at midnight.
  • When I was a child, my father would tell me to “stop wasting paper” when I wrote stories. When I became an adult, he couldn’t stop bragging when I got stuff published.
  • Dad is very smart with money. I wish I had listened to him more. I’m listening now!
  • Sports is an obsession with Dad. He will watch anything that involves a ball. Dad has even developed full understanding of World Cup Soccer. Because of him, I think it’s strange if a man doesn’t like sports. I married a football coach.
  • We talk everyday and I go over to his house every Sunday afternoon. We love to watch NFL football and we suffer through football withdrawal when it’s over.
  • I instructed my husband when we were dating that he needed to talk to my father before we got married. He did. When I called Dad to tell him we had got engaged, Dad said, “I know it.”
  • Dad became a Christian almost 30 years ago and has since never missed a year reading the Bible cover to cover.
  • Dad is man of action and commitment. He knows how to take of business, and if Dad says something, you can bet your life on his word.

It brings tears to my eyes to think what I would have missed out on had Donald Coleman been any other kind of man.


11 responses to ““I Raise My Own Child”–A One-In-a-Million-Father

  1. What a wonderful reflection, Donna. You said you didn’t know what to give your Dad for Father’s Day. I suggest you print this out and give him a copy. I can’t think of a more meaningful or wonderful gift.

  2. Chester Moody says:

    Donna you always bring back memories, Don was the first person to take me to a baseball game a country boy to see Ernie Banks & the Chicago Cubs give my love to your dad for me

  3. Hey, Chester! I didn’t know you knew Dad. I’ll pass along the greetings!

  4. Pat Fiene says:

    A wonderful homage written by one of my favorite people about one of my favorite people. One of the best things about being a Bears fan is watching a game “together” (over the phone) and hearing dad’s comments and explanations. Please wish him a happy father’s day for me and many, many more!

  5. Linda Perry says:

    Donna, this is really a beautiful tribute. I can relate to sooo many things that you have written about. We are so blessed to have strong fathers in our lives that have helped shaped us into who we are today!

  6. Greg Terrell says:

    Reminds me of the stories My Mom told me about my Grandfather raising her, My Aunt and Uncle. Their mother died at 32 yrs old……………..ironically she had a heart attack in church during a weekday morning mass (after she walked them to school). My Grandfather worked on the Railroad as a Pullman Porter). He took a local Truck Driving job to stay home. My Grandfather had to make more money………….so a Year later he went back on the road and Multiple Aunt’s & Uncle’s would stay with my Mom, Aunt & Uncle while he was on the road. When my mom started to complaining to my Grandfather about how they would mistreat them (My aunt wouldn’t say anything because she was scared & my Uncle was too young), he got rid of them and decided to let them stay at home by themselves. But in those days neighbors looked out for neighbors (so the neighbors were the watchdogs and they watched over them while my Grandfather was on the road). My Grandfather built a step stool for my Aunt (so she could cook over the stove safely. When my Grandfather went back on the road my My Aunt was 11, My Mom was 9 & My Uncle was 7. So THEY WERE YOUNG………and my Grandfather would be on the road for a week then back for about 7 – 8 Days. He did that for about 4 years (UNTIL HE PUT IN THE TIME WHERE HE COULD GE TA BETTER SCHEDULE)!!!! I went through that ALSO raising my daughter as a Single Dad. I had custody of her since she was 2 and I had to travel on ocassion (not like my Grandfather……………..but Still had to pack a suitcase & be gone for a few days at a time). But I had my mother helping me until she got sick. Luckily when that happened my Daughter was old enough to stay with my family members and get picked up by her classmates parents for school. Raising kids are hard (especially being a single Dad). But we do what we have to do. I hope your POPS had a great Fathers Day!!!!

    • Wow, lotta family history there! Sorry your grandmother died so young. And you’re right–in those days neighbors REALLY looked out for each other and helped raise the kids on the block. Your grandfather must have spent much time worrying about them, but he knew working had to be of the same priority. It’s cool that you were such a responsible father–RAISING YOUR OWN CHILD! Thank God your mother helped. I know you had a great Father’s Day, and I hope you and your daughter are very close. You’re a class dude, Cuz!

  7. Stephanie says:

    I loved your blog. It made me think of my father. He responded like your father did when mother died, You are blessed to still have such a wonderful dad to continue to learn from. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful blessing. Also your pictures are so precious. I will add your dad to my hero list.

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