My Greatest Teacher

It’s hard to imagine who I’d be without you.

You’ve given me so much, and I can never repay you.

You taught me the beauty of love.

You taught me the significance of faith.

You taught me the importance of family.

You taught me the strength of integrity.

You taught me the power of honor.

You taught me the truth of manhood.

How could I ever repay you?

 

You taught me good things that some men are never taught.

You helped me learn good things that some men can never learn.

You showed me how a man treats a woman.

It’s with love, honor, respect and care.

It’s with work, strength, kindness and patience.

Sadly, some men treat women differently than how you showed me.

Thank you for making sure that I wasn’t like some men in this world.

Thank you for teaching me how to be a true man.

 

Thank you for helping me believe in myself as a man.

For a minute, I thought my past would stop me.

It’s always mocking me in the present and never seeming to go away.

However, you assure me that my past will not be my future.

You tell me that my past will be my light.

For it will illuminate my mistakes and tragedies.

However, it will show how far I’ve come.

I’m stronger, wiser, healthier and better because of my past.

I need my past to be who I am today and in the future.

Thank you for teaching me my past is my cure to the future.

 

You’ve been with me most of my life, and you’ve always had my back.

I’ll always cherish everything you taught me.

I’ll use your teachings and become the man you see me becoming.

I’ll be a man of God.

I’ll be a great husband and a great father to my children.

And I’ll pass down your teachings from generation to generation.

I love you so much dad.

Thank you for being my greatest teacher.

 

 

Never Missing A Thing

When I think about my dad, Shawn McNeil, I’m thankful for having him in my life. I think about his integrity, determination, hard work, respect, kindness, wisdom and love for others. In addition, I admire his faith and how he’s a true man of God. These things and more that he has instilled in his body, mind and soul are things that I strive for and cherish in my life thanks to him. He taught me how to be a man when I was three years old. He came into my life, and he did his job as my father. Throughout the years, he was always by my side and made sure that I not only felt love but understood it. Looking back on the years and now, I realize that my dad was never missing a thing with me.

When I was 11 years old, I remember that I was starting to learn how to play the drums thanks to my dad Shawn McNeil. He wanted my siblings and I to learn how to play either the drums or piano. Since all my siblings decided to learn how to play the piano, I naturally elected to play the drums. I was thinking to myself that somebody has to do it. We have to have a drummer in the family, right? Anyways, I learned for years how to play the drums by Mr. Charles and every year I would participate in a recital. When I was 12 years old, I had my first ever recital with my little brother Isaac. We were performing the song “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly. I remember I told my biological father Keith about the recital. He promised that he could make it to the recital, but he never did. I invited him to four recitals, but he never made it to any of them. I’ll admit that it bothered me a little when he made false promises to me, but it didn’t destroy me because of my dad. My dad went to all of my recitals, and I felt loved and appreciated because of him. I had my mom and dad at my recitals cheering me on, and it was all I needed to feel loved and appreciated.

In high school, I was a sprinter on the Track and Field team. I participated in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter and 4×400 meter relay. I told Keith about me being on the track and field team, and he was proud of me. It meant a lot to me to have his approval, especially in high school. I remember year after year he would always promise to come to a track meet, but he never did. It didn’t bother that much because I was used to his empty promises by now. Anyways, I wasn’t hurt that Keith wasn’t there because I had my dad supporting and cheering me on. In fact, he was always exercising and training with me to be a better runner. If it wasn’t for my dad, I probably would never have lettered in track and field. He pushed to be the best possible version of myself, and I’m constantly striving to be the best version of myself thanks to my dad.

One of the things that I really wanted to do in high school was join the theater and drama club. I wanted to act in a school play and/or musical. I talked to Keith about it one time, but he didn’t approve. He said that I shouldn’t do theater or drama club because it was “gay” to him. He didn’t approve of guys that did theater instead of sports, and he didn’t want me doing it. I couldn’t understand the toxic masculinity that existed within Keith, and it was sad and disappointing to me. At the same time, I was still trying to get his approval, so I didn’t do theater and drama club in my sophomore or junior year of high school. However, I did do it in my senior year of high school.

It was the fall play “Murder in the Knife Room” that really enticed me to want to join drama club in my senior year of high school, but I was hesitant because of Keith. My dad actually encouraged me to audition for “Murder in the Knife Room.” He told me that this was something that I needed to do, and it wasn’t gonna make me someone that I’m not. It was going to bring me happiness, and he was going to be there for me and support me. I appreciated my dad and his encouraging words. I ended up being Plastic Politician in “Murder in the Knife Room” and Lucas Beineke in “The Addams Family Musical.” Those two shows, the cast and crew hold a special place in my heart, but that’s another story. Anyways, my dad came to all of my shows, but Keith never came to one.

Around the time of my high school graduation, Keith was talking about how he was gonna come to my graduation. He made a promise to me, but he couldn’t come. I remember I was deeply hurt by this because I had opened myself up to him and believed him. Surely, he wouldn’t disappoint me on this important day in my life, but he did. Thankfully, my dad was there for me, and he was all I needed. He made sure that I wasn’t thinking about Keith rather all the people from my uncles, aunts, family friends, mom, siblings and others that were there for me. My dad made sure to be there with me when I got my diploma, and it meant so much to me that he was proud of me.

Now, I’ll always have love for Keith. I don’t know what’s going on his life, but I know that he’s struggling right now. I pray for him every single day because he is my father, and he will always hold a special place in my heart. However, I’m so thankful and blessed to have Shawn McNeil in my life because he made sure to be a father to me. He knew that I needed that support, and I needed an earthly father figure to believe in me. My recitals, track meets, shows and graduation were special to me because my dad was there for me when Keith wasn’t able to be that father to me. My dad made those things meaningful to me, and I’ll always be grateful for that. I’ll always cherish my dad for teaching me what love was because of those events in my life. I love you always dad, and thank you for never missing a thing with me.

This is the end of “Never Missing A Thing.”

Be sure to like, share and comment your thoughts on this short story.

This weekend, I will be posting poetry dedicated to my dad Shawn McNeil on Saturday and Sunday.

Horror Movies With My Dad

I love movies with a passion, and I couldn’t imagine life without them. They hold a special place in my heart. My favorite genre is horror. Horror movies to me are on another level. I just love all the gore, blood, knives, killing, murder, demon possession, suspenseful music, isolated locations, poor choices, dumb characters, terror, madness and craziness that comes with horror movies. I love horror movies like Psycho, The Exorcist, Jaws, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Conjuring series, Friday the 13th, any horror-themed Stephen King movie, Halloween, Get Out, and so many more. I’m so thankful and blessed to have horror movies in my life, but I know that it wouldn’t be possible without my dad.

I remember it was 2008, and I was at a hotel in Springfield, Ohio. It was for a church convention, and all of my family was there. I was staying in a two-bedroom room with my parents and siblings. My Grandma Mollie was on the same floor as us, and she was a few doors away from us. It was a Thursday night, and my family decided that they wanted to have a family movie night our hotel room. My grandma came over and brought her famous cookies with her to munch on. We even had some popcorn and other snacks. My parents scrolled through all the movies the hotel had, and they discovered a movie that they were dying to see. It was the movie I Am Legend starring Will Smith. My grandma and I were excited about watching the movie because we were both Will Smith fans. I thought that this was going to be a typical Will Smith movie, but I was deceived.

This movie was a little more dramatic. There was no comedy seen it whatsoever. In fact, it was kind of a little scary. It was kind of making me a little uncomfortable. Then, my anxiety got a little worse. In the movie, Will Smith goes into this dark building to retrieve his dog. He was all scared for some reason to go into the building, and I didn’t understand it. Was Smith scared of the dark or something? However, I was scared as he was getting closer and closer to his dog. Will Smith see these groups of people huddled together. I was thinking to myself, what in the world are these things? I’m turning away a little because I’m trying not to watch this movie anymore. Then, Will Smith finds his dog hidden under a table and scared to come out. Will Smith is about to turn around, and I’m thinking to myself, “Oh God, please don’t turn around. Please don’t turn around Will Smith. Please, please, please. I will hate you if you turn around. You will no longer be my favorite actor ever. Johnny Depp will take your place, and you’ll be all the way at the bottom. I do love them Pirate of the Caribbean movies, and Johnny Depp would never deceive me like you are right now Will Smith. Please, I’m so scared. I can’t, I just can’t. I can’t watch this movie. Lord, please help me.”

Sadly, Will Smith slowly turned around and this blood-sucking vampire was waiting for him. It was a wrap for me. I couldn’t watch anymore after seeing that scary vampire thing pop out of nowhere, but I didn’t want my family thinking that I was scared. Luckily, my little sister Shawna was scared out of her mind and needed to go in the other room. I saw this as an opportunity. I remember I sighed, stood up and said, “Look, I’ll go with Shawna to the other room. She shouldn’t be alone right now, and I don’t mind being a good, big brother right now.”

Then, my little sister Shawna said, “Aww thanks big brother, but I’ll be okay. You can watch the movie, I’ll be good.”

My parents asked if she was sure, and she said that it was fine. Then, they told her to go into the other and told me to sit back down. I was panicking, and I continued, “You know I should still go back there with Shawna because I want to be a good big brother. I’m willing to sacrifice this movie because I love my sister. I’m 12 years old, and I need to learn the significance and purpose of sacrificing for the people that I care about. It’s about love and commitment. My sister needs me to be there for her and who am I to turn her away for a movie. I want more than anything to continue to watch this really scary, messed-up movie, but I want to be there for my little sister more. Can’t y’all understand that? Can’t y’all see that I’m trying to do the right thing as Shawna’s big brother? Can’t y’all see what your mind cannot comprehend? Let me be a good big brother to my little sister Shawna.”

After I was done giving that little speech, my little brother Isaac laughed and said, “Wait, I know what it is. Isaiah’s scared of this movie too. That’s why he’s trying to go with Shawna, he’s scared too.”

My parents and grandma started laughing and realizing that my little brother was right. My mom was asking me if I needed to be held or anything, and I was appalled. I was just trying to be a good big brother, and they were turning it into something that it was not. Then, my dad said, “Well, sit down and watch the movie then? If you not scared.”

My little brother added, “Yeah, watch the movie with us, coward.”

There was a moment of silence, and I responded, “Dad, I’m going to the other room with Shawna because I’m just trying to be a good big brother.”

The room erupted with laughter, and I just marched into the room. My little sister Shawna followed afterwards and started laughing at me too. My mom yelled, “Don’t worry, Isaiah, I’ll be sure to tuck you in. Do you need to sleep with me with me and your dad to avoid nightmares?”

There was more laughter following my mom’s statement, and I just never felt so betrayed and humiliated by my own family. I wasn’t scared. I was just trying to be a good big brother. To this day, whenever I Am Legend is on TV, they always burst out laughing and talking about “this is my movie, the one that got me all scared.”

After partially watching I Am Legend, I decided to never watch horror movies. I would just avoid them at all cost.

A few years had passed, and I was avoiding horror movies like crazy. It was hard though because my dad would always watch horror movies by himself. He would always ask if I wanted to watch them, but I said no as I briefly had I Am Legend memories all in my mind. However, that would all change when I started reading Stephen King books in high school. I was reading books like The Shining, Misery, Carrie, Firestarter, Pet Sematary, Salem’s Lot, Dreamcatcher, The Tommyknockers and so many other classic Stephen King books. They were so awesome and amazing to me. The horror and suspense that Stephen King brings in his work is so breathe-taking to me, and I admired his sick, twisted imagination. Stephen King helped me see the beauty and authenticity of horror. My mom and dad noticed that I was reading a lot of Stephen King books, and my dad mentioned, “You know, Stephen King had a lot of his books adapted into movies. We should definitely watch them.”

I totally agreed with him, and I started watching movies like Misery, Cujo, Carrie, The Shining, Thinner, Room 1408 and Firestarter with my parents. It was awesome seeing the books come to life, and I started falling in love with horror movies. I was craving more. I started watching old horror movies like The Excorcist and Psycho. For some reason, my mom couldn’t keep up with the horror movies, and so it was just me and my dad.

I remember my dad and I first started watching Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Halloween (1978). I just loved the music associated with Halloween and Michael Myers just killing people like crazy with his butcher knife. In addition, Nightmare on Elm Street was twisted because you could die in your sleep by Freddy Krueger. That was so cool and awesome to me that Freddy was torturing kids by not making them sleep and punishing them if they did. Freddy was a smart serial killer to me, and I had nothing but respect for me as the killer in the movie.

After watching those movies, I kind of wanted to watch more sick, twisted horror movies. My dad looked at me and said, “Say no more.”

He suggested that we watch the Saw series together, and it was so great. We watched all the Saw movies together, and it was so great and fun watching them with my dad. We would always add little things and laugh at characters just not doing what they needed to do to stay alive. We were praising Jigsaw for his many traps on his victims, and we just loved all the twists in the movies.

Then, we started getting into demon possession type horror movies. I remember we watched the Sinister series together, and we just loved it. Then, we saw Insidious, and it was alright to us. We saw more and more demon possession horror movies on Netflix, cable and pretty much anywhere that we could find them. Fast forward a few more years, and we started going to theaters together to watch all kinds of new horror movies together. We saw most of The Conjuring series movies in theaters and so many other movies together.

Today, my dad and I continue to watch horror movies together whenever we can. I’m so thankful that my dad and I can have something so special together. As I reflect on the many horror movies we saw together over the years, I find myself remembering the laughter, the debates, the surprises and the disappointment we shared watching horror movies together. Of course, I don’t only watch horror movies with my dad. I love watching horror movies with my best friend Obi and other friends. However, nothing can compare to watching horror movies with my dad.

This is the end of “Horror Movies With My Dad”

Be sure to like, share and comment your thoughts on this short story about my dad.

On Thursday, I will be posting “Never Missing a Thing,” another short story about my dad.