My dad served as assistant principal at the high school I attended.

As a freshman entering the four-year high school, I wanted to draw a boundary line between my dad’s role, serving as school disciplinarian, and my role as student, wanting to blend in with my peers as a normal kid.

The first week of school between 1st and 2nd periods, I entered the second floor boys restroom. It was filling up with boys as well as with cigarette smoke.

A freshman in a land of seniors, especially senior boys, was especially intimidating to me as a 14 year-old.

In the crowded, smokey, 2nd floor boys restroom, a senior guy recognized me, yelling out for one and all to hear, “Hey, aren’t you White Cloud’s son?”

I nodded and then made a quick exit, forgetting the need that had drawn me to make the pit stop.

Yes, my dad was known as White Cloud to the students at UT. He had a crop of glorious white hair.

I always knew my dad as a man with white hair.

I arrived on the scene when my dad was 38 years old. His red hair had turned white at a very young age.

And so throughout my freshman year, I did my best to create my own identity and not be known solely as White Cloud’s son.

I rode to school with my dad. I always made certain he entered the building before me, allowing several minutes between his entrance and mine.

One day I discovered my 2nd floor locker had been broken into. My locker mate and I were moved to a new locker; a locker that happened to be located right across the hall from my dad’s office.

I accepted the challenge and drew a new imaginary boundary line.

One spring day between 3rd and 4th periods, I was at my locker with not much time to spare.

I bent over to pick up a book. Suddenly I was aware of a ripping sound. I dropped all of my books. I reached behind me, touching the seat of my trendy blue slacks. I realized the pants no longer had a seat. Gripped in a seatless-slacks panic, I suddenly saw my dad’s  office as a haven for me . . .  a student in need and a son looking for his father’s assistance.

I silently prayed that my dad would be in his office.

I prayed that he would be alone.

With books positioned strategically behind me, I took the 25 or so steps into his office.

I walked in.

He was alone.

He looked up, saw me, and smiled . . . the warm smile a father gives a son, sensing a father’s love is needed.

I sat down.

My dad listened.

My dad responded.

A call was made to my mother. New slacks were delivered.

Yes, my dad was known as White Cloud amongst the students at UT.

My dad wore his mane of white hair magnificently.

He was a true educator and coach, loving the role of watching students and his children blossom and grow.

I posted recently a picture of my dad and me; my dad with his mane of white and me with a ‘fro.

A friend responded upon seeing the photo, “You sure do look like your dad.”

Wow, I thought . . . I have become my dad!

My curly brown ‘fro is no longer with me. My hair what I have is white.

I ask myself, am I White Cloud now?

I listen.

I listen.

I hear an inner response, as if my dad is talking to me.

Bob, my son, you are your own man, with your own style, and with your own gifts. Know you are White Cloud’s son and have earned your own name . . . Son Light.