Amos Johnson was 16 when he lost his father to illness.
The Lee’s Summit man is now 43 and married with three daughters and a son.
The last conversation Johnson had with his father has helped shape Johnson’s views as a man, husband and father.
Recently, he recounted that conversation.
“My old man came into my room when I was 16, ripped the covers off me and said, ‘How come you don’t ever come in there and talk to me when you know that I’m dying?’” Johnson said. “I had always addressed him as ‘Sir.’ I kind of looked him in the eye and said, ‘Man, what’d you just say to me?’
“He said, ‘You know I’m dying, why don’t you ever come in here and say nothing to me?’ and he kind of stormed out of my room. I just remember I sat up in my bed and I said, ‘Man, you never talk to me and I never talk to you. You don’t know how to talk to me and right now I don’t know how to talk to you.’ Two weeks later he was dead.”
Johnson later wished the conversation had gone in a different direction.
“We never had that last talk,” Johnson said. “I went through so many changes and situations that had he been there – or any other father figure – I would not have went through a lot of the things that I went through in high school and college. He died at the worst time when I was trying to become a man.”
Using his father’s death as a catalyst in his own parental role, Johnson and his wife, Carrie, have raised a college-age daughter, her two high-school-age sisters and their middle-school aged brother.
“Instead of being angry and resentful at my father, I wanted to dedicate my life and my opportunity to just learn how to be the best dad that I can,” Johnson said. “I use the memory and the pain I had in losing him to fuel my resolve to be here for mine. I think the best way to honor his life is to be the best dad I can be.”
A behavioral intervention specialist for Kansas City Public Schools, Johnson is also the founder of DAD Changers, a non-profit organization with a mission to reinforce the notion that fathers matter in the lives of their children.
The group recently held a pancake fundraiser in Lee’s Summit in conjunction with National Make a Difference Day, teaming up with Chris Jones of the Never Give Up Foundation, Pastor Ray Mabion of Sheffield Family Life Center in Kansas City and Sheffield youth director Terrance Reveles.
“I had a ministry leader ask me why I am doing this,” Johnson said. “I told him, ‘no more pain.’”