Sunday, June 17, 2012

Daddy's Little Girl: A Tribute by Erika A. Johnson

Nathaniel Johnson (my father); Dawn Johnson (sister), Erika Johnson
Who am I? I am Daddy’s Little Girl! I am his princess and in his eyes, I could do no wrong. That was all true until I blossomed into a teenager. My father, Nathaniel, was a tall man with a loving heart. His height and girth scared most in our neighborhood, yet they became enthralled by his random pranks and laughter. He was my “gentle giant”. My father was the provider and head of our household. He never was one to boast about his accomplishments or even talk about a bad day at work. When he came home it was all about assisting my sister and I with our homework, cooking extravagant meals on the weekends, and ensuring we spent quality time as a family. My father made sure that my family had all the necessities and spoiled us with the newest, hottest items from Cabbage Patch Kids to a brand new Nintendo system.    Our many trips were always by vehicle, so that we could see what the world had to offer. We drove to Ohio, Florida, Texas, and even Mexico. We would arise at 3 a.m. and then prepare to hit the road. Ironically, I cannot sit still in a car over four hours to this day. He disciplined hard with love and spoke candidly about “boys”. When I was stood up by my date for the senior prom, my father was right there to give a warm hug. He was protective of his family and especially his daughters. He work ethic, strong desire to advance and professionalism are traits that I have mimicked and used in my own life.
My father made several changes over his lifetime that resulted in mental, spiritual and personal edification.  Through his positive example, he urged my sister and I to continue our education, raise our children properly, always help others. In the early 2000’s my father was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease).  He was given a life expectancy of one year. I would have never thought that the man that I adored and looked up to would be taken away from me, so early in my life. I was 25, just bought my first apartment, raising my elementary school aged daughter, and finally a positive member of society in allied health. Over time, the changes became evident and eventually he needed to be placed in a skilled facility. Through visits, I groomed his hair. When he needed to have a tracheotomy placed, we communicated through pen and paper or by me reading his lips. He was still the strong, caring man I knew with his mind 100% intact with a body that would not cooperate. The last thing my father purchased for me was a beautiful wood dining table for my brand new apartment. As the seasons changed, my father made his transition a year and a half after his diagnosis. We celebrated his life, everything he overcame and how he was a beacon of light to all who knew him. He taught me how to survive, how to not let anyone take advantage of me and to be a productive member of society. It didn’t hurt with love and a lot of spoiling along the way! Who am I? Daddy’s Little Girl! I always will be!

Erika Johnson is the founder of the Stiletto Network, a multi-service company that provides professionals such as make up artists, photographers, models, motivationale speakers, and an array of other services for your event, community activity, or private affair. For more information, please visit

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