Being an admitted news junkie, you would think that I seek out these stories, but the truth is that they come to me. When I saw an article entitled, “Father Fights to Overcome Stroke for His Son”, I had no idea how inspiring it would be and how meaningful to me. Honestly, I don’t think that AOL Black Voices will mind if I put the entire article on the blog. You might click on a link, but if all you have to do is keep reading, you probably will. The article comes from Jeff Mays and is written for Black Voices.
“Reginald Thomas is the type of father that all men, especially black men, should try to emulate.
Thomas was a building superintendent in Chicago who lost his job and the apartment that came with it. He and his 8-year-old son, Reggie Jr., ended up in a homeless shelter while he tried to find a new job and apartment for them.
Residents and staff there marveled at the devotion Thomas showed his boy. He instilled manners and respect, teaching his son how to treat people and helping him with homework at night. During the day, Thomas worked at the shelter helping others.
“We take life one day at a time, and we do what we have to do. I’m there for him and he’s there for me,” Thomas said in an interview with Aol. Black Voices.
“The mother is not involved and he was just working so hard for his child,” Rhonda Davis, director of transient ministries at the shelter, told Chicago Tribune columnist Dawn Turner Trice. “To watch the two, they were such a team.”
And then Thomas, 43, suffered a massive stroke.
Even though he was paralyzed on one side of his body and could not speak, Thomas was so determined to care for his son that his progress marveled the hospital staff. Soon, with the help of medicine and therapy, Thomas began talking again. In the picture above, Reggie Jr. checks out his dad’s new haircut while visiting him at the University of Illinois Medical Center.
“I think Reggie’s story just hits close to home for everyone, because he carries all the attributes that we see in our own fathers,” said Lindsey Thompson, Thomas’ speech therapist. “He feels such a strong responsibility to take care and support his family.”
The staff, inspired by Thomas’ desire to get well for his son, began donating clothes and other goods. Davis helped care for Reggie Jr. while he worked on getting better. Thomas, being proud, at first refused the help, but then realized he needed to do what was best for his son.
Today, the staff marvels at Thomas’ recovery. Thompson told Aol. Black Voices in an interview that Thomas was a proud man who was used to taking care of himself and his son.
“His first priority is his son. At first we knew he was at the shelter and recently lost his job and all his things. We basically just adopted them on our unit. Whatever they needed — the little boy or the Dad — everybody just instantly wanted to help. But Mr. Thomas, he was so humble and full of pride at the same time. He needed help but didn’t want to ask,” Thompson said.
That’s what seems to be missing from some of today’s fathers: the idea that they need to do whatever it takes to do the best thing for their children. More than 63 percent of black households are headed by single women. That is way too high. I’m not saying that there aren’t good black fathers, but there aren’t nearly enough. Thomas is proving that any obstacles to being a good father can be overcome.
After almost two months in the hospital, Thomas has been released to a nursing home, where he is continuing his recovery. Since his story was printed in the Tribune, some of his family has stepped forward and claimed his son so he no longer has to stay in the shelter by himself while Thomas recovers. Looking for a fresh start, Thomas is considering a move to North Carolina.
Now, Thomas walks with a cane and his speech is improving daily.
“With him, he would look at you and say that he was not sure that he would be able to take care of his son, but you could see that was his drive. The condition he walked out in is not something you normally see,” Thompson told Aol. Black Voices.”He was the type of father you would want to see raising a child.”
The people who have come in to contact with Thomas have also walked away changed.
“When you think people don’t care, they do. It’s an overwhelming experience to find out that so many people do care,” said Thompson.
Soon, Thomas will return to the hospital for more speech therapy. The staff is excited about seeing him again.
“I want my son to learn that whatever he goes through, God has his back and he shouldn’t give up,” Thomas said. “He’s looking forward to me being able to play and talk and laugh with him again, and just be the father he wants and needs me to be.”
“Its been a rough ride. I came in the hospital but things have gotten better. It’s a blessing from God. He takes care of me,” concluded Thomas. “Sometimes we all need help. You have to keep the faith that everything is going to be alright. I just kept thinking that to myself.”