It was a Wednesday morning when I got the call my daddy had died.
Although I accepted the news relatively quickly, at 23, I don’t really think I was able to wrap my brain around the fact that he was gone. If we’re being honest, 21 years later, I still don’t know that it’s something I’ve fully comprehended.
Whether you had the best of relationships or struggled to connect, there’s something about the finality of death that makes you rethink relationships—wonder what could have been and reinvent the way things actually were.
The truth is Cedric L. Sparks was flawed, just like we all are. He had his demons, just as we all do. The truth is in spite of all that, I loved him, and now as I look back 21 years later, I know he loved me too.
My daddy was real big on letting folks know you were somebody. His catchphrase—“Let them know you’re from a good neighborhood”—still resonates with me. It’s something I teach my daughter, and it’s something I strive to do each day—to let folks know my parents raised me to be a good person, to respect people, to make those who came before me proud.
That Wednesday in 1994 changed my life forever. It made me grow up in ways I never imagined. It taught me life is short, and while we’re here on this earth, we need to give until there’s nothing left. We can’t shy away from the things that scare us, and we can’t be scared of living to our full potential. We must love like we’ve never been hurt, dance like no one is watching and let people know we come from a good neighborhood.
I hope my life is a testament to these things. I hope I’ve made my daddy proud.