Bernal E. Smith II and Brianna Smith at Women of Excellence 2017. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

“I find it interesting that Webster’s dictionary provides definitions for the word “father” as a noun and a verb. As a noun, it means “a man who has begotten a child”; as a verb, it means “to take the responsibility for.” – Bernal E. Smith II

This year Father’s Day, there will be no call, no convincing him to tell me what he’d like, no last minute running to the store to find his size, no search through a dozen cards at Walgreens to put on his nightstand.

If you’re like me and have lost a father whom you love and adore, I want to encourage you to embrace Father’s Day with gratitude and courage. Let’s celebrate our fathers’ memories and uniqueness.

Countless individuals walk through life never experiencing unconditional fatherly love. To them, Father’s Day can represent a massive void. There are many who will never know the love of a father. When I think of this, I realize I had been blessed with a magnificent man for a father.

My dad knew how to bring out the best in me in a way that inspired me to expect the best out of myself. He accomplished this not so much by being strict but more so by trusting me, by encouraging me to trust myself.

Father’s Day 2004, my dad and grandfather (Bernal E. Smith Sr. who died in 2011) wrote a story in the The Commercial Appeal titled “Father of the Man.” I often reflect on the article because he wrote so vividly his expectations for my brothers and I.

“Surely the greatest and most challenging role in my daily life is that of father, helping my children grow and develop into whole, healthy and productive individuals. Showing them love, administering discipline, enabling them to be productive thinkers, inspiring a thirst for knowledge, giving them the tools necessary to ultimately be productive on their own – these are the critical roles of a father and the opportunities I cherish most.”

My dad really lived those words. Much like my grandfather, my dad was not only a great role model for me and my brothers, but he was also a father figure for many inner-city youth in Memphis helping to be a positive influencer in their lives.

Perhaps, Father’s Day may bring tears but I know there will also be smiles, reflections and laughter; that’s who my father was: a man who enjoyed life.

So, to all of you who have lost a father whom you have loved dearly and who showed you that love right back, I pray you can embrace Father’s Day with a spirit of gratitude and courage.

God didn’t fail me at all. He gave me the greatest gift ever — an angel to watch over me. And, this Sunday, I will celebrate him.

My father has always been my hero — the man who loved me unconditionally and made everything better. Even in death, he continues to show me he’s always there for me.

Happy Father’s Day in Heaven, Daddy. I love you more!