Gullah couple's advice on life lives in foster son's book

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comMarch 6, 2012 

  • Bernard Snyder will sign copies of his new book of poetry, "If I Had a Son," from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Jump and Phil's Bar & Grill, 3 Hilton Head Plaza.

Bernard Snyder has some mighty sound advice for the son he never had.

And it comes from a man not raised by his own father and mother.

The chef at Jump and Phil's Bar & Grill was raised by his aunt and uncle, the late Maggie S. and John Holmes Jr. of Hilton Head Island.

Snyder said he moved from Savannah to their home on Wild Horse Road when he was 5 years old, after his mother was stabbed more than 50 times.

On paper, Snyder probably shouldn't have any positive advice about life. But he does, and he's poured it into his new self-published book of poetry, "If I Had a Son."

He told his three daughters not be offended by the title. He dedicates the book to John and Maggie Holmes, saying he could hear them and see them as he wrote these words to the son he never had:

'IF I HAD A SON'

I would sit him down and tell him to include God in everything he does, first and foremost. I would then remind him how important it is to get a good education. I would tell him there will come a time when he must make decisions in life all on his own, so I'd like him to treat people with the utmost respect but don't let them walk over him. I would tell him under no circumstances should he hit a woman, because it would show a lack of respect for her and a sign of weakness in him as a man.

If I had a son, I would look him in his eyes and tell him of the many mistakes I've made, with hopes he won't make the same ones.

I would speak to him about this imperfect world we live in and how he must learn to adapt and act accordingly. I would tell him no one is perfect and we all make mistakes, but it is very important to learn from each one.

I would tell my son to always listen, because it would allow him to see things from different perspectives.

I would remind him that all friends aren't necessarily his friend and how he'd be able to distinguish the difference in time of need.

I would speak to him emphatically about morals and values. I would tell him to pray often because prayer changes things. I would tell my son to always have "faith" because things won't always go his way, but with faith, he would have a reason to keep his head up.

I would speak to my son about "peer pressure" and how insignificant material things are compared to the way he conducts himself in his everyday "walk of life."

I would alarm him that he might be stereotyped, not because of who he is, but simply because of the color of his skin.

I would tell him whatever he chooses to be in life, try and be the best at it. And when he finally asks me about love, I will say to him, "Now is when you should listen to your heart!"

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.

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