Tribute To My Dad
by Allen Steadham
My father, Joe Steadham, died of cancer on May 20, 1997, five days before his 58th birthday. The threat of colon cancer had already appeared once in his life, had gone into remission for ten years and then came back with a vengeance around 1995. This week marks the sixth anniversary of his death. I don’t mean to be dark or macabre; in fact, it is my intention to honor my father and his life with this entry.
My father was a huge impact on my life. He taught me responsibility, dignity, humility, friendliness and a lot about how to be a father. My father was a people person. He made trips to the grocery story — almost daily — just to converse with people at the store…and get one or two items. He was deeply respected by his co-workers at the Texas Department of Health, where he worked for 32 years (almost as long as he was married to my mother, which was 33 years)…a fact that was shown when over 300 of them paid their last respects at his funeral.
But perhaps the most important thing my father ever taught me was not something he told me, it was what he didn’t tell me. He never discouraged me from making friends of different nationalities, he never encouraged me to think or believe in a racist manner. And when I began dating interracially in the years before I got married, he would take the time and make the effort to get to know the women I was dating.
I’ll be honest, my father and I had some issues to deal with when it came to my entering into an interracial marriage but once my (biracial) son Adam was born in October 1995, things began to change. My father was given a six-month prognosis in 1995 but he lived an additional two years after that, sharing the first two years of my son’s life. I truly believe that my father’s love of my son is what kept him going for so long. My mother was so moved by my father’s love for Adam that she had a picture of the two of them buried with my father (see picture below).
Grandfather and Grandson
During the last weeks of my father’s life, I had many opportunities to talk with him and we both had a chance to make our peace with each other over past hurts and misunderstandings. I have since learned how rare an opportunity — what a gift — that was.
I loved my father and I know he loved me. I hope I can be that kind of father to my two sons.
I know that the Lord has blessed me to have a wonderful wife and family and I feel honored to live this life with them — and you!
Thanks for sharing this experience with me.
Allen Steadham is webmaster Interrace Haven and moderator of Crossing The Divide.
Copyright © 2003 Allen Steadham. All rights reserved.