In October, my father passed away and left his family, students, colleagues, and friends with many emotions. We were happy he was no longer plagued with the disease of cancer but sad he is no longer able to be with us. He was such an encourager to everyone and always saw the best in people. He taught me to be the same way. He was a philosopher and would give you something to think about from another perspective but never forceful in his approach. He was an avid reader and always learning or researching something. He was a passionate teacher of vocal music and directed many choirs (classical, gospel and others) during the forty years in his beloved vocation. He was passionate about giving his students his best—rarely missing a voice lesson. He always put others before himself—often taking students or the less fortunate into our home and never expecting anything in return. Yes, all these things, I will miss but they live on in me.
One of the biggest gifts I received from my dad was the ability to dream. I remember growing up in Memphis, Tennessee and after church on Sundays loading up in the car and “going dreaming”. This consisted of us going to new subdivisions on the east side of town which was where the wealthy were moving. Some houses were completed and vacant and others were still being built. We would tour the open houses and imagine what it would be like to live there. My dad always taught us that nothing is out of our reach. If you desire something, believe you can have it, find a picture of it or go see it and do what is required to get it. Now, twenty-five years later, I see the rewards of this valuable gift. Once you lose the ability to dream, you become stuck. You begin to accept life as it comes and mediocrity is your constant companion. You lose hope because you don’t believe you can do better, be better or live better. Despair sets in and before you know it, you have settled for a life you hate and don’t know how to move forward. A few days before my dad passed, he was still dreaming—in the midst of the pain and discomfort that were probably more intense than he let on, he was still telling me his dreams. In those precious moments, he was teaching me to keep on dreaming. Keep on believing no matter what hardships come your way. Dreaming gives way to hope; hope gives way to determination; determination gives way to work; and work gives way to success and dream fulfillment. My dad accomplished so much in his 62 years because of his ability to dream and go after his dreams. He never blamed anyone for his position in life, but looked inward. His also had an unwavering faith in God that carried him through life’s mountains and valleys.
I am so thankful for this precious gift my dad gave me throughout my life—a dream that never gives up! What lessons will you take from 2014 to make 2015 better? Are you dreaming and expecting something better or will you keep the friend of mediocrity? I am determined to continue dreaming and to keep moving forward until I see the reality of those dreams. Thank you daddy for giving me this gift. It will not die, because it lives on in me.
~Coletta Jones Patterson