I’m Turning Into My Dad

My dad passed away on February 4, 2014. I was 25. My brother was 20.

When someone asks me how I’m doing now, I rarely tell them how I’m really feeling. But I wouldn’t say I’m broken. I have a strong support system of family and friends who have been there for me when I needed advice, consulting, or to lend an ear. It’s helped me become a better adult as I try to overcome my self-doubt.

People have lost their parents at younger ages than me and my brother. But for me, in the three years since my dad has been gone, I’ve been constantly weighed down by my own pressures of carrying his legacy forward. When I heard Jay-Z’s “Legacy” on 4:44, it really spoke to me. My dad worked hard to provide for us and to make sure his children can live comfortable lives. In turn, I’m supposed to own up to that responsibly — whether I’m ready for it or not.

One night in Williamsburg, I was talking with my friend whose father recently passed away. We shared similarities in our emotions: her wounds were still fresh while mine have scarred. She was asking me for tips on the probate process, telling me some things about how the estate was going to be split up. She was fearful of the decisions she was about to make, but kept a more positive energy than I ever did. In some weird way, I was happy to finally know someone who understood what I was going through. She later apologized for asking so many questions about my dad, but I honestly didn’t mind returning the favor.

At this moment, I have to make another big decision about my childhood home. Typically, when someone dies, you have to divide, distribute, or throw away their personal belongings. You might want to try and sell some things to put back into the estate for future expenses. In my case, not only did I grow up in this house, but my father built it for our family. It’s a memorial of one of his last visions — every detail in here was created with my mom, my grandma, my brother, and me in mind.

Although I haven’t lived here in six years, a sense of home still permeates. My father also left this home when my parents divorced, but there are many reminders of him here. Various old blueprints from the previous homes he’s worked on, tools, and of course, family photos of him throughout the years have collected dust, but are wonderful mementos of his life.

On few occasions, I’ve already gotten comments that I sound like my dad. I even catch myself telling other people that I’m turning into him. Many of us in our 20s dread the thought of becoming like our parents, but it’s inevitable that some traits are going to be inherited over time. Personality-wise, I can get hot-headed like him when I’m stressed out. As far as business practices go, I’ve had many WWDD (What Would Dad Do?) moments and didn’t fuck up horribly.

Maybe I am turning into my dad. Maybe my personal goals and creative endeavors need to be at a standstill until the estate is settled. Maybe I am failing at trying to balance both my dad’s life and my own interests. Whichever critique I choose to pin on me, the bottom line is this responsibility isn’t going anywhere. There will only be bigger roadblocks from here.

I want to come back to Jay-Z. I bought the physical copy of 4:44 for the new songs last weekend. These bonus tracks don’t sound tacked on at the end, and actually add more depth to his confessionals. “Blue’s Freestyle / We Family” had Twitter talking about her mumble raps and that “Boomshakalaka” line, but look how Jay chooses to spotlight her; on “Legacy,” and on a track with her dad. It’s inspiring to see him care for Blue and nurture her talent while teaching her about his legacy at 5 years old.

When Blue asked about a will, it had me thinking about who would be my executor if something were to happen to me. This person wouldn’t just be mine, but technically my father’s too. What would future generations think of me?

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