Julius J. Bell, Sr.: You Did a Great Job!

Sunday was my Father's birthday.  If he was not among the Ancestors, he would have been 86 years old.  He was born on June 1st, 1928 in South Carolina.  He was one of 23 children born to John A. Bell.  He was the Father of nine children with his wife Mary H. Bell.  My mother was a student at Howard University when JB Sr. came by and they started their life together.  It was a life of triumph and some tragedy.  I never got a chance to meet my Brother Jonathan who died in a car crash in 1962.  I have a Sister Virginia who is also in heaven.

He left the bucolic state of South Carolina for the hard scrabble streets of South Philadelphia.  My Father was a Jack of All trades.  When we were growing up, he worked a full time job at the Navy Yard in addition to being able to fix up houses.  He could run electrical wires, fix leaky pipes, complete cement jobs and repair asphalt roofs.  I understand now the energy that it took to do that.  He also opened and closed a Laundromat on the corner of 15th & Wharton Street for years.

I used to be a little upset growing up for what we didn't have in terms of material possessions.  We lacked the new car, the fresh crib and sometimes the latest gear.  What we did have though was a childhood free of abuse and hunger.  When I think about the number of children living in poverty in Philadelphia I cringe.  When I realize the number of children that are looking to be adopted or have to be placed in foster care, I jump for joy at my supposedly meager existence.

My six brothers and I have grown up and tried to make our way.  It has been difficult at times maintaining the close relationships that I think we all should have.  I am blessed with two beautiful children, a new grandchild and my health.  The wealth is in my mind.  I own property and am constantly trying to find ways to reinvent myself and keep food on the table.  I owe a large part of my outgoing personality to my Dad and the way he interacted with people.  People say that I remind them of you.  I take that as a Compliment.

I did not grieve immediately after my Father's passing.  I was still trying to be the judge for what he didn't do for my Mother and the way he treated her sometimes.  In retrospect, I worked harder at trying to be the best father and husband I could be.  I have not been perfect in no way, shape or form.  My children could form an impression of me that might not be favorable upon my demise.  I just want to reiterate that I Love and Appreciate the job that you did raising me Dad.  I appreciate you always fixing my heater or dropping food off for us whenever you felt the urge.  I would not be here without you.  Happy Birthday and I Love you until we meet again.

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