Sidney Poitier’s Daughter Remembers His Magic, Strength and ‘Terrible Dad Jokes’

My dad was a force of nature.

Anyone who was in his presence would feel it immediately. Some would be awestruck, others giddy and almost all would get tongue-tied. And then something remarkable would happen. He would take their hand or touch their arm and fix them with a gaze so warm and so present it would bring them back to themselves, to
the moment.

I never understood the alchemy that allowed him to be both otherworldly and simultaneously so incredibly down-to-earth. He was magic. The rarest of humans that could make you feel like you were in the presence of both a king and your favorite friend. It’s this quality that drew the world to him, and I think, at least in part, it’s why we are collectively heartbroken by his passing.

His life was so prolific and so public that there is little I can tell you about him that you don’t already know. But I will try. He told terrible dad jokes. The kind that would normally make one cringe from the corniness, but instead we would laugh hysterically because he told them with such panache. His signature move was to rest his elbow on the very edge of the table and have it slip off as if he had one too many with dinner. He loved rum raisin ice cream (I know, gross), reading about the cosmos and spending time in solitude. He was a scholar, always learning, always searching, endlessly curious. He called me Sydney P or Little Syd. He was gentle, a pacifist, but also had an inner strength and could bring you to your knees with one look.

I speak from experience. I tried to take his car out for a joyride at age 13 and crashed it trying to reverse it out of the driveway. He said not one word, just fixed me with a look, and I’ve never felt more fear in my life. I wouldn’t even look at a car until I turned 16.

He was powerful, beyond measure. And he wielded that power with such responsibility, such grace, such equanimity. He saw the good in everyone.

He is the father to six daughters who love him fiercely and can’t imagine what the world will look
like without his beauty, his grace, his light. We will love him forever, we will miss him everyday and we will do our best to see the good and the wonder in the world just as he did. And maybe, on occasion, we will tell a corny dad joke in his honor. Love you, Dad.

The youngest of Sidney Poitier’s six daughters, actor Sydney Poitier Heartsong is known for such TV series as “Carter,” “Homecoming” and “Chicago P.D.” and films including “Death Proof” and “Nine Lives.”

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