It’s the Little Things: Lessons and Blessings from my Guys!

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have two amazing male role models: my Dad and grandfather, aka Pop Pop. They may not have been perfect (and I am so glad they never pretended to be), but their small gestures of kindness and guidance along the way profoundly impacted me as the woman I am today. As we celebrate Father’s Day in June, I want to share with you some of the little things they did that made me believe in myself and become my best version. When I was a little girl, I was taught that the little things in life matter most. That simple saying has never rung more true than when applied to the strong, amazing, incredible men in my life – my Dad and Pop Pop (Mom’s Dad). From the respectful way they treated women in our family and community, to their unwavering support of my many antics and ideas, to their fantastic sense of humor and their (not so common) common sense.

My Dad and Pop Pop have always been rock-solid reliable men in my life as well as the lives of others. I was my Dad’s first girl and Pop Pop’s first granddaughter, so I was spoiled and loved beyond measure. They were always there for me when I needed them, and they continued to be throughout my life. My Dad in the physical and my Pop Pop from heaven above! Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from them – about life, love, family, and what it means to be a good person. One of the things that has stuck with me is the importance of small gestures.

Dad’s Influence: 

Quote from Dad: I would rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it.

My Dad has a unique way of looking at the world, always coming up with inventive ideas and going beyond the conventional. Even when I was younger and didn’t understand what he was doing, it was obvious that he had a determined spirit. My Mom frequently says we’re similar in that we don’t quit if we know results are possible. Like the bunkbed I got as a youngster without directions – my Dad and I spent 6 hours constructing it correctly from the illustration on the box. And Ikea furniture? Well, that’s my preferred pastime, apparently!

As a child, my father always taught me the importance of being kind and generous, even when it wasn’t easy. He always encouraged me to take a moment and consider the circumstances of those struggling. As a result, I became more empathic and empathetic. He’s also taught me the importance of hard work and not giving up on your dreams. I carry these values daily, and I’m so grateful for them and his teachings.

Pop Pop’s Influence:

Pop’s Quote: A woman can do anything a man can do, but she can probably do it better, faster, and for less money.

Growing up, I was always surrounded by the compassion and wisdom of my Pop Pop. Might I add that he lived less than a mile away from me, so we spent tons of time together when I was younger. He was my first best friend, and I very much believed I was his. He was always so patient with me, listening to my never-ending stories and offering sage advice when I needed it most. He valued being an intelligent man and ensured that I, too, was well-versed in arts, politics, civil rights, and “Real” history. He taught me, by example, the power and importance of family. He was the glue that held my entire family together. He taught me the value of always lending an ear and making time for someone in their time of need. I think he knew I would be a mental health wellness coach before I did! On March 3, 2009, I lost my best friend, one of my life’s hardest and longest days. I thank God for allowing me to grow up close to him physically and spiritually, and thanks to my Faith, I know I will see him again!

What they taught me together:

Unconditional Love: They always told me that they would love me no matter what I did or how much I messed up. This gave me the security to take risks and make mistakes, knowing that I had their support no matter what.

Self-Confidence: They both came from humble beginnings and experienced the challenges of being black men in America. But they never let that stop or hold them back. They were both successful men, in their own rights, who always radiated confidence. This taught me that I could be anything I wanted if I believed in myself.

Respect: The level of respect they would show anyone would be the same, no matter if the person was unhoused on the street, to our former President Obama. I was taught that giving respect allows you to see the person’s soul (the part that truly matters) and builds feelings of trust and safety.

A Love for GOD: This one is my favorite. Both of these fantastic men taught me to love God differently. My Pop Pop taught me to respect the Lord, the house of the Lord, and the word of God. This respect and love was shown by attending church regularly, wearing my Sunday best and being on my best behavior when Pastor is preaching. He taught and encouraged me to listen to the Choir and get lifted in body and spirit without being embarrassed or ashamed. He could clap his hands and stomp his feet to the beat of the Holy drum!

My Dad taught me to love God in the same way I love and respect him. He made me understand that God loved me and that Jesus Loved me so much he thought I was enough to die for. WOW! He encouraged me to ask God questions, trust that God can always hear my heart and that women have just as much right and space to serve God and share God’s words as men do. So my father and I last October become Deacons of our church… TOGETHER. He and I make it very clear that I am not a Deaconess but a Deacon, Just like him.

The big things are great, but the little things make us who we are. By learning the small gestures my Dad and Pop Pop taught me, I have seen profound influences and gains that I would not have achieved on my own. These little things indeed matter – they make all of us better people and help make our relationships more meaningful. No matter how small these gestures seem, they can create positive changes in ourselves and those around us. So thank you, Wayne Lightfoot (Dad) and Gus Couch (Pop Pop), for being men that I am proud of and Men that love with my whole heart!