Father's Day is always bitter-sweet for me. While I celebrate all of the fathers which have had an impact on my life over the years, I think about my own dad, who is no longer with me.
My dad, was the traditional working man (employed by Ford Motor Company for 30 years) and provider, as many Black-American fathers are, making sure his children's basic needs, food, water, shelter, and education were met. He not only provided the basics, he made it possible for my siblings and I to participate in extra-curricular activities, such as athletic, music and various youth programs.
My father, Eugene Owen Thomas, the son of a tobacco farmer and homemaker in rural Kentucky, was born in 1930 on the heels of The Great Depression. My dad never went beyond the third grade, which was typical for the time, but what he lacked in education, he certainly made up in creativity and ingenuity. I rarely saw my dad call on anyone to assist him with home maintenance tasks such as plumbing, painting, carpentry and other repairs. He always found a way and simply figured things out, which is what I admired most about him. He did not allow his 3rd grade education to impede him in any way, especially when it came to taking care of his family and home.
In addition to his many talents, my dad was a barbeque pit master. On any given day, rain or shine, you could find him in the back yard smoking or grilling something delicious on his home-crafted barrel grill. In addition to his skills on the grill, he also made his own barbeque sauce, a revamped version of an old family recipe. His Kentucky-style vinegar-based barbeque sauce became such a hit that family and neighbors would purchase his recipe by the jar. Had he taken his sauce to market, I have no doubt it would have rivaled some of the top brands on the shelves today.
My fondest memories of my dad was connected to food. Whether he was grilling and barbequing butcher cuts or wild game, he always allowed me to look over his shoulder. Quite honestly, I attribute everything I know about food preparation to my dad. Although my dad was not an emotionally expressive man, he expressed his love through cooking for his family. I am forever grateful for the time we spent together and the bond created through food.
Learn how to make my own version of Gene O's Kentucky-style Barbeque Sauce. Turn To Page 72 > Click Here
Regina Thomas Dillard is a certified chef, founder of Inner Sanctum Wellness, and the author of FEED: Living Food Recipes to be Made and Eaten with Love.