Tag Archives: Father’s Day

“The Hands Of My Father”… By Justin Carr

The Hands of My Father

As I said before, I can’t make this stuff up!! Just a few weeks ago (due to water damage) I was forced to go through “stuff”  that I really wanted to leave in place forever… But, in hindsight, I was glad I was pushed because I found yet another treasure that Justin left behind.  It was beyond appropriate and perfect timing for this Father’s Day.

I grabbed one of Justin’s middle school backpacks that lay dormant in his closet. I never looked at his homework assignments. Pretty much he was self-supportive in ALL of the homework that he ever did—and he rarely asked for help. Well, let me take that back. I do remember one time when he was in 5th grade and he was up late putting the final touches on his project. We assured him that he should go to bed and that if he places the pictures in order for his poster:“Shaquille O’Neal for President” we would glue them down. To make sure that they stuck, Darrell and I came up with the “grand” ideal to lay heavy books over the documents. The next morning we learned we had made a major faux pas. The pressure from the books made the glue seep beyond the picture borders and ruin the paper and the overall layout. In other words it was indeed really a “hot mess”! Justin was mad and told us: “Please, never touch my stuff again!” So we did not.

In any event, as I was going through loose paper, when I came across an assignment that Justin had for 8th grade English- to write a poem. As I read through all of the drafts and the final document, once again the words from our young Renaissance man, took my breath away. It was a poignant poem about his Dad… “The Hands of My Father”

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My Fathers hands are his most prized possessions.

The roughness,

From fixing many broken things

The splinters,

From moving old firewood back and forth

The burns,

From making bonfires for my birthday

He has now learned from his mistakes and wears his marks like trophies

Big ones.

Small ones.

Ugly ones.

Each and every one is wonderfully displayed in his hall of fame.

Every time I walk through my Dad’s hall of experience,

I think about what it would be like to just have a small portion of his experience.

To know so much,

Would be the best thing to have…

… And those little trophies would be really nice, too

Along with stories about where those marks came from

And where the cuts came from

They’d make a great book of knowledge

A book called “My Dad.”








As a surprise, I put all of the drafts and the final copy of the poem in a nice frame for Darrell- to remind him often how much a great Dad that he was for Justin -and that he will always be.


I don’t know if any of you have suffered from a loss (of any kind) and felt like you wished you should have done things differently, spent more time, said more things etc. Darrell and I have talked often about unfinished business we had with Justin. However, I hope that this poem is now proof for Darrell on yet another Father’s Day (sans Justin) that Justin loved him dearly, appreciated what he taught him and learned so much by his Father’s good examples of how to be a gentleman, with integrity, strength, compassion and empathy for others. I appreciate you too Darrell.






From an early age Justin watched Darrell build and fix things and subsequently he knew how to paint, build and work with concrete too.

In 8th grade he made a ceramic tool kit piece of art for Darrell







Later in life, Justin helped his peers with construction activities in New Orleans to help construct a house of Habitat for Humanity
















Darrell has many hobbies and can work with concrete, metals and woodwork. Justin could do the same. Darrell has a lot of work in progress projects around the house. He has started a garden for Justin, and laid each and every rock with “his hands” and he just recently completed an extension on the stairs in the yard… So much love.


































Butterfly flower in Darrell’s Garden


Darrell, I can’t imagine what your pain is without Justin, by your side. I do hope that you can look at this poem and know that you indeed did a wonderful job as Justin’s Dad from the beginning to the end. And as you move forward you will always be Justin’s Dad and Justin will always be your son!  You gave him the gift of life ( with a little help from me!)

This poem that Justin wrote in 8th grade  says it all.  Darrell the words of your son could not have been put any better.  You were his ” Hall of Fame”


First Beach outing in the Bahamas












Darrell and Justin in Australia ( I stayed at home)








At his friend Tara’s Arangetram
















Justin learned from Darrell so he too could help others









Postscript.. Darrell texted me this picture that he took of himself with the note” This has been the best gift ever, next to seeing  Justin (Champ) being born. Thank you very much Susan (Justin’s Mom)IMG_0510


Father’s Day is a Father’s WayTo Dream the Impossible Dream

If you look up the definition of what the word “Father” means you will find various meanings i.e.: A man who is the parent, a man acting as the parent, a man who is the ancestor, a man who is the founder, a man who is a leader, a man who is a teacher, a preacher, nurturer, or a man who is a Priest…. Happy Father’s Day to all who can claim any of these descriptions.



The first Father’s Day Darrell ever had was on Monday, February 5, 1996. It was the day that I found out that I was pregnant. When I came back from my doctor’s appointment, my elation could not be hidden so I had to tell someone!! Therefore, I told my Universal  Studio Creative co-worker, comrade, and confidant—Suzan Rude. She was the experienced one—my guru when it came to getting pregnant because she was already a mother to Matt and was also two months pregnant with Samantha. She was clever enough to tell me her secret of how to get pregnant—if you want more details than this, you will have to contact her directly!! So, I tried it and Darrell and I were successful too, or should I say blessed when we were graced with the news that there was a baby in the oven. After I told Suzan, she hugged me, quickly ran out my office, and came back with her husband Greg in tow and then she dropped a small raspberry on my desk and said with a sly grin: “ This is how big your baby is today!” We all laughed.


When I got home that night, I took Darrell to our favorite restaurant in Monrovia—The Derby. It was a very special place for us. Among other significant celebrations, Darrell had actually proposed to me in the dining hall about a year prior. So, when the waitress brought over his dessert and he noticed some paper on the plate, to his surprise he looked at me in awe when he realized it was a faint image of a embryo—from the ultrasound. He became overjoyed and was beside himself. Subsequently, a few months later after we found out that our baby was going to be a boy, Darrell wore his pride bigger on his chest. He was so proud, and oh so happy… He would have been happy either way if we were going to have a girl.


Eight short months later on September 13, 1996 Justin arrived and our dream to be parents came true. Darrell was officially a Father and his son Justin was born. It was such a proud moment when he saw the twinkle in Justin’s eye for the first time. Darrell was over come with emotion and was so elated. Maybe some of you knew that my UCLA Doctor was out of the country when I had to deliver Justin, so I went to Cedar Sinai hospital. In hindsight it was more than a blessing in disguise, because Soledad- my best friend from Convent of the Sacred Heart high school just happened to be the Neo-natal Physician on call. In fact, she was also pregnant with her daughter Shaylyn who was born just a mere week after Justin. As Soledad worked with the team of Doctors, she hands Justin over to Darrell and with a mischievous smile said: “Look Susie a white baby! Darrell was all caught up in the moment of delivery , looked shock and then cracked a smile because he knew Soledad had a sense of humor. You can only imagine the reactions from the other attendees in the delivery room because they had NO IDEAL that we personally knew Soledad—and I’m quite sure they were beside themselves to hear that come out of her mouth. As most people know, a lot of African American babies are born without their full pigmentation and their skin is pale in comparison to what it turns into a few days after birth.

Soledad, Susan, Darrell & Justin at the Baptism
Soledad, Susan, Darrell & Justin at the Baptism









Susan and Justin Eileen Stephens, Suzan and Sam
Susan and Justin Eileen Stephens, Suzan and Sam








MacKynzie, Shaylyn, Justin, Darrell
MacKynzie, Shaylyn, Justin, Darrell







Wedding Bells, Fun times with Justin and his god sisters
Wedding Bells, Fun times with Justin and his god sisters



Time flew by so quickly but as Justin’s Dad, Darrell was a great Father to him and was able to pack a lot of love and adventure in those few short years. They had trips together to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.




Darrell taught him how to use tools, to fix things instead of always calling a repairman because these were the things that Darrell’s Dad instilled in him. He taught Justin how to be a gentleman, how to respect girls, and how to take pride in all that he did. They were also together when the first racial slurs were hurled at them when they were too slow pulling out of a parking space in Arcadia, CA. That was the first time they had to have “The Talk “Darrell insisted that Justin get the full effect of the “haves and the have not’s” therefore

Darrell and his father Russell Carr
Darrell and his father Russell Carr

he wanted him to attend a public school (just like he did) for Elementary School. Darrell often told me: “ Justin needs to know what if feels like to be a black man in this world and to feel comfortable in his own skin.” What gifts he gave to Justin and to me.

In 16 short years Father Darrell (or Darnell as Justin sometimes called him) taught Justin a lot of things including how to:



  • IMG_9032kellyjuju jujuhardhar
    • Play ball
    • Stand tall
    • Build walls
  • Plant flowers
  • Climb towers
  • Live
  • Give
  • Paint and mix concrete for hours
  • Ride the subway
  • Pray
  • Not to stray
  • Sing a song
  • Call out when something is wrong
  • Sing falsetto
  • Work with metal
  • Comb his hair
  • Play fair
  • Be a leader
  • Put money in a meter
  • Take pictures
  • Install fixtures
  • Tie a tie
  • Always say hi
  • Drive a car
  • Be a star
  • Stand for what’s right
  • Be prepared if you have to fight
  • Smile for the camera
  • Help others
  • Love his mother




Even though Darrell’s physical time with Justin—his pride and joy was cut short, Justin will never be too far from his heart and thoughts. It was Darrell who came up with the slogan at Justin’s Celebration of Life when he coined the phrase “ Justin Carr Want’s World Peace.”

Watch this 5 minute clip to see how JCWWP got started… Keep in mind this short video was created and delivered to us 4 days after Justin’s service. Chad Michaels was working for the church that day doing the video for the live feed.  We did not know him at the time.   He was compelled to do this after learning who Justin was…



My niece Laureina did this on the UC Berkeley Campus




Justin’s Dreams will be realized because they are now Darrell’s goals. As Justin’s proud Father, Darrell will carry Justin’s message and show his love for him in so many other ways. Darrell will be that teacher, that guiding light for his students and for so many other kids who desperately need a Father figure. Since he was forced to take his Fatherhood to a different level and into a whole new realm,


Darrell will have Justin’s back and continue to spearhead Justin’s Dare 2 Dream program (that provides visual and performing arts and math tutoring to the underserved). His mission is to spread Justin’s message, and continue sharing his legacy…now this is his FATHER’S WAY as he lives THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM because EVERY DAY will be FATHER’s DAY for Darrell!!!!

Justin Made this Soap Box Derby Age 10



The Impossible Dream

By Joe Darion

To dream the impossible dream

To fight the unbeatable foe

To bear with unbearable sorrow

To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong

To love pure and chaste from afar

To try when your arms are too weary

To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest

To follow that star

No matter how hopeless

No matter how far

To fight for the right

Without question or pause

To be willing to march into Hell

For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true

To this glorious quest

That my heart will lie peaceful and calm

When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this

That one man, scorned and covered with scars

Still strove with his last ounce of courage

To reach the unreachable star




Susan (aka Justin’s Mom)


I got this  recent message from  a childhood/ family friend-Father Christopher La Rocca.  He and his siblings attended St. Emydius  with our family  and he graduated from St. Ignatius with my brothers.   JCWWP is paying it forward by helping one of his  village kids whose  name is also  “Justin”- get the  surgery he desperately  needs.  His message on  how (our) Justin’s spirit continues to live on across the globe sealed the deal on this Father’s Day.  Father Chris  is  now working as a Carmelite Missionary in Africa…

“Dear Susan, Again, the Holy Spirit is working through you…



Fr Christopher ( La Rocca ) OCD
Carmelite Missionary








JCWWP_Logo_with_Butterfly_II_copy copy