Father’s Day

...now browsing by tag



Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Daddy—Donald E. Thornton (1925-1983)

Happy Father’s Day!   It has been 30 years since my Dad passed away at 57 years of age.  He was too young to die, but there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him.  There are so many instances in which I say to myself, “What Would Daddy Do?”.  The answer to that question often solves the problem immediately!!  He was a humble man, an honorable man, and a person who saw the future for his five daughters (when no one else did).  With his prescience, he guided me and my sisters to careers virtually unheard of when I was a child.  Women as doctors?!  Black women as doctors?!  What a hoot!  Impossible!!

Yet, with his vision, persistence, love and determination, we realized his dream for all of his daughters becoming physicians (doctors).  That lofty goal was achieved over and over again in my family and is chronicled in my two memoirs, “The Ditchdigger’s Daughters” and “Something to Prove”.  Long before his dream for us to become doctors, he took it upon himself to get us out of the housing projects of New Jersey and build our home (with our Mom serving as his hod carrier).  He was a genius.  Daddy was a cross between Bill Cosby and Rocky. His indomitable spirit has lived on in each one of his daughters.  Although, we did not all become physicians, in one generation, he spawned two MDs, one oral surgeon (DDS), and one attorney (JD) and PhD., and the remaining living daughters of Donald and Itasker Thornton are all doctors.

He and my mother were a formidable team and great parents, as well.  I have fashioned my parenting skills after both of them.  Because they were lovingly strict, I have benefited from their life lessons and have taught my children those same lessons.  Education was revered in our family and it was our only way to get out of poverty and enjoy the mainstream world of privilege and success.  My son, is a physician and my daughter is a well-educated woman with Columbia and Stanford degrees.

I owe it all to my Dad (and Mom) who supported us, loved us, sacrificed for us and gave us a chance to succeed.

Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.

May You Rest In Peace

For my father, Donald Thornton, on Father’s Day

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Dear Daddy,

You know how much I relied on your guidance as I was growing up. But I wonder what you’d think if you knew that, even now, more than 26 years after we lost you to a stroke on a snowy February day, your wisdom still guides me.

I know you regretted dropping out of school as a young man and, although you seemed content to work 16 hours a day, it must have hurt not to have the opportunity to better yourself.

I know you wanted better for us, your children.

We may have grumbled when we were kids because you demanded so much. You insisted we get the highest grades in our classes. An A wasn’t good enough for you. You expected every grade to be an A+. We had to reach so high that nobody could yank us back down.

People laughed when you told them your five girls were going to grow up to be doctors. Impossible, they said.

And yet, as the first African-American woman to be board-certified in maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk obstetrics), I’m living proof that your dreams weren’t impossible after all.

Your dreams and your demands for us to do our best are the reasons why, among your five daughters, two are now physicians, one, an oral surgeon and another grew up to be a lawyer.

But I owe you for more than my career in medicine, Daddy. There isn’t a problem that I come across in life where I don’t ask myself, what would Daddy do? There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of you. There will never be a time when I will stop missing you.

Even though, I know, you’re very much with me. Even now. Happy Father’s Day.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH