A little later today we will bury my father. The first traces of dawn are peeking through the shadows of night. As I sit thinking about my dad, I would have to say that one of the things I learned from him by example was the importance of living life with “Compartments of love.” What I mean by this is learning to appreciate and celebrate the importance of each individual human being that you come in contact. At the family visitation that was held at my church yesterday, there were so many persons who shared stories of how my dad helped them: the firefighter who said my dad helped him to advance; a small business person; men and women who worked in the Cyprian Center, a mental health non-profit founded by my father; and many others. When I think of how my dad treated each of the people in our family and extended family, the same is true. He loved each of us individually and collectively. Listen to some of the examples of this “Compartment Love.”
Andrew Young – you may have read some of the stories about how my dad and Andrew met and their friendship over the years. When Andrew began his ministry in Thomasville, GA,, my dad drove from his church in New Orleans to lay tiles for Andrew on the floor of the church.
My mother, Elizabeth Hood – every morning my dad would fix her a pot of coffee and bring it to her in bed. As a 19-year-old sophomore at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Conn., when my mother married my father and they moved to New Orleans, my father worked out a tuition payment plan of $5 a week for her to continue and complete her college degree at Dillard University. They were married for 42 years. As cancer invaded her body, my dad took my mom on a five-year jaunt around the country to basically say good bye to all of her friends and family. In the end, he would drive her to and from Wayne State University where she served as a tenured member of the faculty.
My sister, Sarah Cyprian – when she was stricken at the tender age of two, my father built several contraptions to try to help her to walk. Sarah stayed at our home until she was 16. Although she could not walk, talk, see or compute what she was hearing, my father loved her and gave her unique attention. At 16 Sarah was made a ward of the state so she could receive more complete care. Every Friday night my father, and often Emory, Steve and I, would drive to Northville, Michigan and bring her home to lay on the floor. On Sunday nights, we would drive her back to the Plymouth State Home.
Brother, Steve – My dad and Stephen had a special relationship. They were business partners and had a financial relationship. More than business, Steve and our father talked about technical things and science. When Steve was a little boy, our father would take him swimming at the Fischer YMCA where Conrad Mallat was the swimming instructor who taught him to face his fears and learn how to do a back flip into the pool. In his last days on earth, Steve bought a tablet computer for his father to make it easier for dad to get on the Internet.
Brother, Emory – our dad loved Emory deeply and supported Emory in everything that he did. When Emory and I wanted to play sports, our father would take us to sign up and attend the games. He constructed a basketball backboard and hoop over the garage. In the winter, dad hammered a wood frame rectangle in the backyard, laid a huge piece of plastic and then filled it with water so Emory and I could have an ice skating rink. Several of the kids who lived on our block would come over and we would fumble around trying to play hockey. On Saturdays, our dad would drive us and other boys from our neighborhood to Belle Isle, drop us off and let us play hockey against the white boys. We could not skate as well as the other kids, but we reveled in the physical nature of hockey, and just about the time we were ready to fight, he would show up, make us get in the car and drive us back to the west side of Detroit. In the summers, our dad taught Emory and me how to canoe at Belle Isle. In high school, Emory and I played in a dance band that included several other boys from our neighborhood. Before we were old enough to drive a car, our dad and two of the other fathers would drive us to the various parties and engagements that we played. He would return at midnight, 1 AM and eventually 2 AM at the end of the engagements/performances and drive us home. After storing the larger amplifiers and speakers in the garage, he would pack us back into the car and drive around the corner to the Esquire Restaurant for corned beef sandwiches. It was not until many years later that it dawned on me that when our band performed on a Saturday night, he would have to get up and preach the next morning. My dad stood by Emory until he took his last breath of life.
Conclusion – These are some examples of the “Compartment Love” my dad displayed for each of us. My dad also did a lot to help Denise and me in our careers and personal life. After the death of my mother, my dad married Doris Chenault. His love for her was also, compartmentalized and special. One day I will share a little more about those memories. From my father’s example, I have tried to treat every man as a king and every woman as a queen. What this means is to focus on each individual, listen to each person, respond to each person, love each person in front of me and treat them like they are the most special, important, significant person in the world. I learned this from my father and will forever be grateful.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Funeral Arrangements – Today, Saturday, April 16, 2016
1 PM – Family Hour: Plymouth United Church of Christ 600 E. Warren Ave. Detroit, Michigan
2 PM – Funeral (Ambassador Andrew Young preaching)
3:30 Burial – Elmwood Park Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Hood at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/