Colbert Williams (R) talks with Ralph Catania (L), his fifth grade math teacher who later became his legal guardian, about going to live with Ralph at the age of 15.
Ralph Catania (RC): Was there anything that you feared about moving in with me?
Colbert Williams (CW): Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? Everything. (laughter)
I didn’t know what kind of food you ate. I didn’t know your background. All I knew was that you were a nice teacher and you were gonna 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 and you’re a white man and I’m like, ”I don’t know anything about white people.” (laughter)
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 the thoughts going through your head?
RC: (chuckle) Well, my first reaction was, there isn’t too much I can do about it (laughter).
I think the thing that impressed me the most was your comment, ”My son is gonna 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.
CW: 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
(RC: laughs, yes)
and I just hand him milk and this milk just spills. How have we impacted your life, Ralph?
RC: My gosh,
you know when you’re single for a great period of time, you become basically set in your own ways. And then somebody else comes along and sometimes there was a little bit of conflict, but I have truly been blessed. There is, there is no other way, (clears throat) there is no other way to explain it.
CW: What you see in me is a reflection of what you put in me, and today I say thank you.
RC: I hear many times from people that know you. They say, ”Oh, you’ve 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.