Copyright ©2010 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

And we're going to listen, right now, to another conversation from StoryCorps. We're going to dig a little more deeply into one man's story. Last week, we heard a conversation from Michigan, between Colbert Williams and his son, Nathan. Colbert Williams was just 16 when his son was born.

M: Is there anything you always wanted to tell me but haven't?

M: I'm proud of you 'cause you're a really good father.

M: Wow.

INSKEEP: It wasn't easy for Colbert Williams to be a good father. Just before he became a father at age 16, he left home because his family was too poor to take care of him. Today, we meet the man who took Colbert in: his fifth- grade math teacher, Ralph Catania. Ralph, who was divorced with no children of his own, became Colbert's legal guardian.

M: Was there anything that you feared about moving in with me?

M: Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? Everything. I didn't know what kind of food you ate. I didn't know your background. All I knew is that you were a nice teacher, and you were going to take me in because my mother didn't have a place for me to go. So, I was very thankful for that, but I didn't have any idea as to what to expect from you.

I'm a young black man, you're white man, and I'm like, I don't know anything about white people. And then the fact that I knew that a baby was coming. When you found out I was going to be a father, what were some of your thoughts going through your head?

M: Well, my first reaction was, there isn't too much I can do about it. I think the thing that impressed me the most was your comment: My son is going to know who his father is. And watching you walk past the waiting room at the hospital and him cradled in your arms, I will never forget that.

M: I remember nights studying for an exam and he's sick, and I'm trying to feed him at 3 o'clock in the morning, or so tired that I forget to put the bottle top on top of the bottle, and I just hand him milk - and milk just spills.

How have we impacted your life, Ralph?

M: My gosh. You know, when you're single for a great period of time, you become basically set in your own ways. Then somebody else comes along and sometimes there was a little bit of conflict, but I have truly been blessed. There is no other way to explain it.

M: What you see in me is a reflection of what you put in me. And today I say, thank you.

M: I hear many times from people that know you, they say, oh, you have just done wonderful things with this young man. But I truly believe that a lot of this comes from within you and within your soul, my friend. Any parent would be extremely proud of a child that has accomplished what you have accomplished.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Colbert Williams with the man who was his math teacher and then his legal guardian, Ralph Catania, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Their conversation will be archived along with all the other StoryCorps interviews, at the Library of Congress, and you can get the Podcast at NPR.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: