Local dads reflect on their lives forever changed
By Brea Joyner
Father’s Day is often overshadowed by Mother’s Day, but for Artis Wilson and Lorenzo Brown, this day of celebration reflects the job that changed their lives forever—becoming a father.
When Artis Wilson arrived in a taxi from Vietnam, he saw his young wife holding his first-born daughter who he only envisioned through the letters sent through their consistent letters.
“He jumped out and said, ‘There’s my baby,’” Barbara Wilson, his wife, said. “I thought he was talking about me, but he was talking about the actual baby.”
“I was pretty excited to hold her. It took me a while to put her down,” Wilson said.
Artis Wilson, 75, is a father of four and grandfather of three. The Downsville military veteran was raised by his aunt and uncle at the age of five in Monroe, after his mother’s death. In fact, he took his upbringing as a child, and used that as a guide to raise his own children.
“I was raised going to church, and our kids were raised going to church; actually going with them and not just sending them,” Wilson said.
Deployed to Vietnam
Barbara found out she was pregnant with their first-born child three weeks before Wilson deployed to Vietnam. One of her biggest concerns was Wilson coming back home, but Wilson says that his confident faith reassured him that he was coming back to his family no matter what.
“I always figured I was going to make it home,” Wilson said.
“I was on a flight crew most of the time and I used to tell them all the time, ‘It’s gon’ be one survivor,’ and they’ll ask ‘What do you mean?’ and I’ll say ‘Well, I ain’t dying over here.”
Throughout the years, Wilson says that he did not struggle to discipline his children because they started learning at an early age, and it did not always require a whooping.
“My kids, they joke about it now, but they always say that the talk I gave them was always worse than the spanking,” Wilson said.
“I would never discipline them in anger…but love. I would always wait until I knew I was calm…and then talk to them.”
Even though fatherhood does not come with an instruction manual, Wilson proved that sometimes good faith and influence could guide you to being a good father—despite your age.
Lorenzo Brown, father of three
Lorenzo Brown, 38, was raised in Monroe by his mother and stepfather who accepted him and his brother as his own sons. Brown’s stepfather was one of the influences that molded him into the married father of three that he is today.
As a young boy, Brown promised himself that he will be around as a father and take care of his children. On the day of his first-born daughter’s delivery, Brown put aside his fear and embrace a journey of excitement.
“I was still in college then. I got the call that morning and one of my brothers from school drove me half way to meet my mother in Grambling,” Brown said.
“It was amazing for me to see that child for the first time. It was like, ‘Man you have a major responsibility right now brother.’ So I dedicated myself to being probably the best father that I ever known.”
Brown’s daughters, known as the “BG’s” are by far three of his greatest accomplishments, but he admits that the biggest challenge to raising them, is letting them go.
“It’s hard to let your children go and grow up, because you have only known them to be dependent on you,” Brown said.
“You just have to let them grow and make their own decisions and stop trying to get in the way of who they’re supposed to be. They have to go through…to grow through.”
Brown and his wife, Chassidy, have grounded their into putting God ahead of everything, and everything else fell accordingly. It was as if his love for God overflowed into his love for his girls.
“Over the years, I have watched him love the girls equally, but treat them as individuals…because they all have different personalities,” Chassidy said.
Brown says that becoming a father was one of the best things that ever changed his life, and God honored a desire he had as a young man.
“I used to want to live in a house full of women when I was younger, that was coming from young men they wanted a lot of women,” Brown said.
“I guess what I was desiring came true, because I have a house full of women.