Interestingly enough, I have celebrated Father’s Day in my 27 years with 3 different father figures; My deceased dad Doug, my deceased step-dad Roger, and now my live and well step-dad Marc. (Don’t get any ideas, Marc.) Each of these figures have witnessed me at a different time in my life. I only had my dad until the age of 12, but I have never felt ‘cheated’ by losing him at a young age. I feel that the first 12 years of a child’s life are critical. My parents taught me from the day I was born what unconditional love looks like, and sometimes that included tough love, but I must say, even that was pretty rare. I learned what a happy marriage looks like, the dynamics of a large family, and that challenging times can be the ones that make you closest. We had our fair share of them. I truly look at my childhood with endearment because while maybe that chapter only lasted 12 years, they were filled with love, happiness and togetherness. I also had my two older brothers, Nick and Doug, both who took on a father role to me in my dads absence, and that has made an incredible difference in my life. To put it simply, I was made to feel that I mattered as a kid, and I think at a fundamental level that is what most children require in order to turn into secure adults. So Happy Fathers Day to Doug, Nick, and to my dad; I guess you knew that 12 years was all I needed and that I’d be left in good hands. You were right!
In chapter 2 comes the introduction of my first step-parent; Roger. Roger didn’t share so many traits with my dad except one vital one- he loved the crap out of my mom. Roger had a difficult life that had its fair share of pain and hurt. I could tell when he spoke about his childhood, it wasn’t the same as mine. I don’t think he was always shown unconditional love or made to feel that he mattered, so when he confronted that kind of love with my mom and her four loving yet obnoxious children, he didn’t always recognize it when it was there. As much as he took warming up to our family, I took warming up to him. It’s always an adjustment when new members join the gang. The whole dynamic shifts. My mom changed, the living situation changed, even our dog Bacchus changed. So it was challenging for me at age 16 to try to plant my feet in something solid. But after two years under his roof, it actually started to feel like home. Underneath his cautiously built walls was an incredibly loving, sensitive and generous person that after a while I was finally able to know and really enjoy. I used to call home during LSU football games and he’d be rooting them on and happy to talk to me. Somehow through all the muck, we were able to find each other, and it turned out to be a pretty great relationship. I would have never, ever, guessed that Roger’s role in our life would be a quick one too. My mom and him were only married 5 years when he died suddenly of a heart attack. I know I know, this sounds depressing. But both my mom and I feel that while we were a part of Roger’s life for such a small stint, it may have been the most vital. We were able to show him some of that unconditional love we’d both been a part of, and I think when he died even though it happened to be alone in his hotel room, it was the least alone period of his life. I feel assured of that. So Happy Father’s Day to you Roger; it wasn’t always easy and it didn’t last long, but I think we both showed each other a thing or two that ended up making a big difference.
Chapter 3; present day. Marc is my 3rd and hopefully my last father figure. When my mom and Marc married a few years ago, I figured we’d get to know each other over the years, but to be honest, since I was older and away from home, I always figured he’d be more my ‘mother’s husband’ than something like a step-dad. But wouldn’t you know it, at age 26, I end up too ill to work, unable to keep my apartment, and move myself and my dog back in with my parents–back to the house I thought I’d never live in again. It was not something I wanted or readily accepted and for that first month or two, I wasn’t exactly joyful to be around. Meanwhile right under my nose, I wasn’t considering that a sick girl and her dog moving back in with her parents wasn’t necessarily easy on them, either. But day after day, I was taken care of there. I wasn’t told that they were doing me a favor, I wasn’t reminded of the gift I was receiving and nothing was ever held over my head. Once again, I was shown how powerful a love like that can be. Marc didn’t owe me anything really, I was his wifes kid after all. But that is not at all how it played out. He turned out to be a lot like a real dad. I found myself saying “my parents house” and really feeling like I had two parents, not a mom and her husband. The point is, terms like “step-dad” and “blended family” have kind of become meaningless for me. It’s simple; blood doesn’t make a family, love does. And there’s plenty of that going around. So, Happy Fathers Day to YOU Marc! Thank you for playing your role so well to me, and being such a great grandpa to Monty. I’ll pay it back when you’re old and can’t feed yourself.
Health, Happiness, and Happy Fathers (or positive male role model) Day!