Tuesday, October 4, 2016

19 Years Without My Daddy - I Wish I'd Known

This tribute started off as a very long, loving Facebook post about my father. However, just after I uploaded the first photo to go with the post, my computer froze, and I spent over and hour, trying to get it to unfreeze, so that I wouldn’t lose the post. Nothing worked, so I had to turn it off and back on again, losing (of course) my thoughtful and well-written tribute to my father. Now the hour is late, and I know I can’t get it all back, so here’s just a little of what I wanted to say (greatly paraphrased).

That's me with my dad on his 65th birthday.
Before this day comes to an end, I want to share that today marks 19 years since my father left this earth. I love and miss him, immensely. Before his death in 1997, I’d dibbled and dabbled a bit in genealogy, however, it was when faced with the task of writing my dad’s obituary that I realized how little I knew about him and his life “pre-Renate”, and I certainly didn’t know of his family history. And, so it was then that I consider my real beginning as a genealogical researcher, as I started my quest to learn as much as possible about my father, and subsequently my YARBOROUGH ancestry, which was soon followed by all of my other family lines.
There was so much I didn’t know about my father before I became a researcher. I didn’t know that about his distinguished military career – about all of the honors and recognitions he’d received, as he worked his way to the rank of Army Major, before he retired in 1964, or of the racism he faced while on that journey.  I didn’t know anything about the Montford Point Marines, or of the two-plus years my father spent as one of the first to integrate the US Marine Corps, at the beginning of his military service.
I still don't know what's going on here, but what I do know is that everyone's attention is on my Daddy!


 I didn't know that, before he joined the military, my father spent a year at NC A&T; nor did I know that he continued to complete college coursework while in the Army, excelling in all of his coursework, and stopping just short of earning his degree.  I didn't know what a fantastic writer my father was, until I happened upon love letters he'd written to my mother before they were married, and editorials he'd written to an Ohio newspaper, when he was stationed outside of Cleveland (where I was born).

I didn't know that my father had 2 half-sisters and a half-brother, all of whom were deceased before I was born, and that I had a first cousin, born the same year as my dad, who lives in the Bronx. I didn’t know that my father played basketball in high school, and was the quarterback of his football team at Nash County Training School. I didn’t know that the reason my father had to move to Nash County to live with his uncle (the principal of Nash County Training School) was because he was acting up in school, and his mother (widowed since my dad was 4) needed some help with him!
That's my daddy - #10! Where are his kneepads?
These are just a few things I didn't know about my father, but my quest to learn more about him, led to my now 19+ year journey as a genealogist. So, on this day, I choose to remember my father, not with tears, but with a smile. Thank you, Daddy, for inspiring me to do this work. I only wish you were here so I could CELEBRATE all of your magnificent achievements with you, and so that I could ask you the questions I didn't know to ask, and hear some of the stories you probably didn't want to tell when you were here.
Arthur P. Yarborough
June 21, 1924 - October 4, 1997