Nominated by Tywanna Reese, who calls him a hands-on dad
Q: What did it feel like when you became a father?
A: It was a joy and it still is. Being a father comes with challenges, but is always a joy.
Q: What can you share about your children?
A: Lanasia, 21, is a certified nurse assistant. She’s a hidden talent. She is very talented and can sing, but she refuses to sing in public. She sings at home a lot. Kayla, 19, is very outspoken and is a sophomore at Onondaga Community College. She’s a go-getter. No matter what people say, she’s going to go out and achieve it — in a positive way. Nate Jr., 18, is a freshman at OCC and is a very good kid. He plays drums with my youngest son, in the Elks Pride Drumline. Then there is Maxwell, who is known as the prince of the family because he gets away with everything. He’s 7. He’s involved with everything: karate, football, wrestling.
Q: What was your relationship like with your father and what similarities and differences do you share?
A: I was raised by my stepfather. He worked every day, and he took care of the house and the family. And I find myself doing the same thing. You knew he loved you.
Q: Is there a saying of his that stands out?
A: He had a saying: “You never know when you’re going to get another mouthful.” Meaning appreciate today because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Try to save up for tomorrow and enjoy today.
Q: Why are fathers important?
A: A good father and a good mother — completes a family. A lot of people seem to think you don’t need a father, but I think it strengthens everything. Fathers are there for guidance and direction. Moms give that, too, but dad always seems to have the last word.
Q: As a father, is there anything you do that would surprise people?
A: Take my family apple picking. Every year, we go to Beak & Skiff Apple Orchard for a family outing. The entire family goes to spend special time together.
Q: Any advice for other dads?
A: Stay involved. Try and understand your kids. When I grew up, adults would tell us to do something and we’d ask why; they’d say because we said so. Now kids are informational children. They need to know why. They aren’t being disrespectful; they just need to know why. They understand how computers work and all these different concepts, and sometimes parents refuse to let them know how they operate as a parent. We need to take time to explain our reasoning.
Q: What is a favorite moment you’ve shared with your family?
A: My favorite moment was last year when I got sick. I had an aneurysm in my aorta and required emergency open-heart surgery. To wake up and see my family there, that was the most important thing for me. Due to hospital policy, Maxwell was too young to visit the intensive care unit and it wasn’t until a little later I could see him. (In her nomination letter, Reese noted that “it was heartbreaking to watch father and son wanting to see and hold each other. The older kids were able to come every day, but Maxwell would stay in the waiting room while they visited. One day it become too much to bear, and we slipped Maxwell in and Nate was so happy he couldn’t stop smiling, hugging and kissing his baby boy.”)
Q: Final thoughts?
A: Keep God first and everything will fall into place.
– Interview by Ashley Kang, The Stand director