When I was a young kid, I really thought my dad was a superhero. We were visiting my uncle Ray and his family. They lived on Logan Avenue in Mingo Junction at that time. Those of you who are familiar with the area know that Logan Avenue is a steep hill that leads onto state Route 7.
I was 5 years old when my cousins, Chauntel and Kim, asked me if I wanted to ride a Big Wheel down this hill. Being "the man," that I was at 5, I wasn't going to allow my two older girl cousins to show me up, so I agreed. So we walked to the top of their block on the Logan Avenue hill. Being the gentleman that I was, I of course let them go first. The truth is I was scared to death and had no idea what I was doing.
Someone yelled, "Go!" Stupid me thought it was a race and started pedaling as fast as I could until I realized that the momentum of the hill caused the pedals to travel faster than my small feet and legs could keep up. There was a pit in my stomach that told me that this was about to be a disaster. I heard my cousins yell, "Pick your feet up!" I did what they said and it seemed to help for the moment.
My next thought was, "how do I stop this thing?" By this time we were nearing the end of the block, I was intently listening for more instructions. There was nothing but the rush of plastic wheels rolling down this hill. I glanced behind me and no one was there! What? They had turned at the intersection. I did not know this. I was now headed toward the highway.
Out of the corner of my eye, I would have sworn I saw a ninja. I quickly turned my attention back to the road in front of me.
I crossed the street and the Big Wheel hit the corner sewer and went flipping over a fence. I went flying in the air and was stopped when my chin hit a curb. I don't know how long I was out, but when I woke up I was in my father's arms.
My father, like a well-trained ninja, had jumped from a second story balcony. What would have taken most people 20 strides only took my dad three to get to me.
I want to celebrate Nathaniel Freeman Sr. I believe during this time of uncertainty and despair in our communities and neighborhoods, that guys like my dad need to be recognized and celebrated. My father always provided for us. He worked 43 years for the same employer. I never knew or heard him call off from work just because he didn't feel like going to work that day or that he had a headache. He has been married to my mom for 42 years and counting. I saw my dad, while my grandmother was in extended care, go to the hospital nearly every day for nearly 10 years. When I was on home dialysis and we would come in to visit, he would have the 50-pound treatment bags unloaded before I could get out of the car. This was with a bad back and needing knee replacement surgery. And the "S" that is on my dad's chest is for Steubenville Big Red. On any given Friday night in the fall you will see him at the stadium volunteering.
There are so many other things I could write but I just want to say I think that if we celebrated more people like my dad, the world would be a better place.
A belated happy Father's Day, and thank you.
(Freeman, a Steubenville native and resident of Reynoldsburg, is the founder of Freeman Revival Ministries.)