I was on my drive home and listening to NPR. A story was on about Zahra Burton who is kind of like the Caribbean version of Barbara Walters but with that cool Jamaican accent. Though her story in and of itself is amazing, the thing that captivated me was one of her interviews. She was the chosen interviewer for Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the two involved in the sniper serial killer terrorist type attacks around DC.
You wouldn't think anything a possible psychopath could say would intrigue me. I had hate in my heart for this person who terrorized our area and made each of us question if just pumping gas would be our last action on this earth. Hate usually precludes hearing anything of value from that person. Surprisingly, words of wisdom can from the most unusual sources. In her own interview, explaining why he was willing to have her interview him, Ms. Burton said,
One of the reasons that he agreed to do the interview...was because he's never been able to fully address a Jamaican audience ... the message that he wanted to impart to ... Jamaican parents is that, when he was being raised, he had parents who were living abroad. And yes, they might have sent material things, but what he really needed was time to learn how to become a man, a responsible man. And the person that became that kind of father-figure for him was John Allen Muhammad who he met in Antigua. He wanted to make it very clear to the Jamaican parents who sometimes migrate, live overseas, send stuff back, 'Look guys, that's not what is important, what's important is time. You make sure that you're creating solid individuals so that they don't have the kind of holes that I had emotionally to invite this kind of trauma into my own life.'There in the words of a convicted serial killer was the blue print to make sure that our sons, that my son, is less prone to turn out that way. Simply put, if you want to minimize the chance your son is led down the wrong road, just be there. Be there in more than the stereotypical "I provide a house and food and that is enough" way that many fathers allow themselves to fall into. Be there to grow your boy into a solid upstanding young man that makes you proud and will do the same for his son. Be there with love!
I follow a bunch of father types on all my social media platforms. Many advocate for engaged fathers and preach the importance of a father in a child's life. Having a good father, who also had a good father, who also had a good father, I don't think it really sunk in how good I have it. I don't think it ever sunk in how a father son relationship could be anything but good. The minute you were born I realized how much love I had for you and happily took up the challenge to be a good and loving father that my father had, by his example, put down before me. So sometimes hearing about the effects of an absent father seemed to be more a lame excuse than a reality. But here, from the words of what could be described as a father's worst nightmare for what his son could become, I honestly heard, for perhaps the first time, in a very real world solid way, how much a father can mean and make a difference.
Sincerely with love from your dad,