Dear Diary,


I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if not for my father, Richard Elliot Hopson.  Throughout my life, people are always surprised to meet him person, because honestly he doesn’t look like a typical father at all, or a grandfather for that matter.  He wears baggy clothes off the racks at Macy’s and Foot Locker and owns almost every pair of Jordan’s the basketball legend dunked in.  He bobs to the beats of rap and reggae and everything in between and is often spotted tossing a ball in the backyard, watching a Steelers game or reading a book about a new conspiracy theory.  He sported a Steven Seagal ponytail up until a few months ago (and when he was younger, he put alcohol in his hair to transform the natural curls into an afro!)  When he visited me in Grand Cayman, he fit right in, with many natives mistaking him as an islander!  He rode a bike all over town and carried his fishing rod and snorkeling gear wherever he went.  He has not only a laid back look but personality as well.   He gets along with EVERYONE and always makes people laugh.  Mind you, my father will be 70 in November.  (Great genes, huh?)  Throughout the years, he has taught me many things, but a few things stand out now that I am a parent.  I hope to teach these lessons to my daughter.

1.  Pick up the Phone 

No matter if I broke curfew or broke the law, my father was always a phone call away.  He told us to pick up the phone, no matter how late, if we were ever in trouble or needed a ride home.  He promised to wake up and come and get us, no questions asked–even if we sneaked out to a party we weren’t supposed to be at or were drinking alcohol under age.  He said he may be upset, but would be even more mad if we didn’t call him first for help.


2. Knock on the Door

If your going to date Richard’s daughter, you better knock on the door.  My father told us to never run out to a man’s car who beeps the horn and won’t come inside to meet your family.  My parents met most of the boys I went out with, even those they didn’t approve of.  They let me make my own decisions (and mistakes.) My father didn’t comment on someone’s looks too often but did speak up about their manners.  He treated my mother with kindness.  He opened doors, didn’t curse or smoke in front of her, and paid for meals (but often convinced her to cook:)   Since he demonstrated respect, I knew what to expect.  He set a high standard.


3. Money Can’t Buy You Love

When I was 19, I fell in love with a man named Omar.  Omar later took me to the mall and bought me $200 worth of clothes and other items.  And although we were exclusively dating at the time (and dated for a couple of years after that,) my parents made me return his gifts.  It wasn’t my birthday or Christmas, and they didn’t raise me to accept (or ask) for material things.  Well, at least from someone I was dating, since they did spoil me on their own.  My father would say, if I can’t afford it or you can’t buy it, then you don’t need it.  Ask me before you ever ask a man.  (Of course, he changed his tune once I was in my twenties and joked that when I get married he would take my hand from his pocket and put it in the pocket of my husband’s:)  I never accepted gifts, cash or trips from anyone, unless it was a holiday or connected to a date (and dinner is far less money than diamonds!)  And although I was financially dependent on my parents for longer than most, I am now a financially stable single mama.


4. Accept People for Who They Are

You can’t change people.  You can only change yourself.  My father reminds me of this when I am frustrated about an outcome or irritated over someone’s behavior.  He says you have to accept people for who they are and don’t waste too much time trying to figure them out or tell them off.  So for instance, don’t ask, why does a liar lie? Why does an abuser abuse? Or why does a greedy person eat the last piece of pie when they already devoured three slices?  You know the answer!  That’s not to say you put up with certain behavior.  Of course remove yourself from a dangerous situation.  But one reason why my dad is very laid back and filled with peace is that he doesn’t try to change everyone.  He changes how he deals with them.  Sometimes that means lowering your expectations for someone.  Sometimes that means redefining a relationship.  And often it means that you have to examine yourself to find out how you can solve a problem and not make it worse.


5. Love Means Tolerating Someone’s Flaws

No one’s perfect.  There will be many annoying things your partner does, but when you love someone, you’ll be able to turn flaws into beauty marks.  It’s easy to get along with someone when you love everything about them.  The true test of love is whether or not you can tolerate the flaws they can’t (or won’t) change.  This goes back to accepting people for who they are and realizing that everyone is not for everyone.


 Hey DFTM family, What life lessons did you learn from your father or male guardian?  How did his words shape who you are today?

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

One Response

  1. Jewel H.

    It’s amazing how much Richard Elliott Hopson’s relationship with you sounds like the one his father, Raymond Haywood Hopson, Sr. had with his daughters. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I had a “golden apple” for a dad and so do you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.