Me and my father, Joe Steadham, in 1989
Today would have been my father(Joseph Edwin Steadham)’s 79th birthday. He passed away from cancer in 1997, five days before his 56th birthday. It really is hard to believe it’s been twenty-three years. I’m named after him: Joseph Allen Steadham.
My father was first and foremost a people person. He loved being around family, friends or even complete strangers. He went to the grocery store almost daily as an excuse to meet and talk to people. Whether at work as the head of the Microbiology Laboratory at Texas Health and Human Services or at the church where he was a Deacon, he treated them like small towns. Everyone was a neighbor, friend or family.
Speaking of work, he was an overachiever. In addition to working for Health and Human Services, he maintained a Pharmacist’s license and worked some evenings and weekends at a pharmacy. It was all to provide for his family, for us.
We were always at the forefront of his thoughts and emotions. He dearly loved his wife, my mother, almost from the moment they met. They were married for thirty-two years. Like any marriage, it wasn’t perfect, but there was no doubt they loved one another.
The doctors gave him six months to live when his cancer returned in 1995. He lived eighteen months longer than that, mostly to spend time with his first grandson, my son Adam. On his final morning, even though he was so weak that he couldn’t move and on incredible amounts of pain medication, he waited for my mother to wake and come see him. He wanted to see her one more time, his final expression of love for her. Then he let go and it was his time.
My father taught me so much, some things directly and some through osmosis. He was a fine example of a husband and father. He taught me the beginnings of cooking; how to drive; basic car maintenance; how to have a savings account; and how to balance a checkbook. He encouraged me to work part-time once I turned sixteen, which allowed me to buy my first electric bass setup (guitar and amp) and save up for a Journalism class field trip to New York City and Boston. I developed a work ethic that I have passed down to my children.
He and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but in the last few years of his life, we formed an incredible bond. We had no unresolved issues at the end. I’ll always be grateful for that.
I do miss him still, but I have comfort. He had the opportunity to know his Savior, Jesus. And my father lives on through me, my sister, and my children.
It’s a bit ironic. As a teenager, I was a “lone wolf” by choice. I would do anything for my close circle of friends and didn’t much care what anyone else thought of me. But once I fell in love with my wife, Angel, and especially after I gave my life to Christ, I blossomed into a people person myself. I don’t think I’ll ever reach the level that he was, but that’s okay. He did what came naturally to him and I’ll do the same.
There are things I wish he could have been a part of: Dad didn’t get to see Adam grow up into a kind, talented, hard-working young adult. He didn’t get to meet my son Jonavinne or my daughter Jeyli. He didn’t see me develop an Information Technology career. He didn't see me co-create a non-profit organization and run the org as its Director for eighteen years (but he did inspire me). He didn’t see me go from (labor of love) comic book creator to published Christian author.
But that’s okay. I accept that everything happened how it was supposed to.
He saw enough. My parents were there when I married Angel and they were present at Adam’s birth. They saw Angel's and my changed lives when we became Christians. As I said before, Dad and I had gotten close. We weren’t just father and son, we had become good friends. I’ll always treasure the time I had with him.
Just now, I told Adam that I was writing this tribute to my father and he said something special enough to repeat.
Adam said “You’ve told me lots of stories about your Dad. I’m gonna tell people stories about you. There’s a lot to tell!”
And thus the torch passes from one generation to the next.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian. Happily interracially married since 1995 and the proud father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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