Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Four Fathers | It's Still Complicated

My Dad. That seems so simple and so easy but it’s not. Not for so many.

My story is strange and some parts people don’t even believe. However, the four men that I’ve seen as father-figures have helped me not go down a bad road as so many girls do when their childhood was a traumatic one.

Chris at age 2 (wish I had a picture of my
father and grandfather)
My paternal grandfather was ‘daddy’ until I was 12 when he died. 

He loved me fiercely and was the first person to tell me that I could do whatever I wanted in life. That I was special and smart and beautiful and he believed it. He was the first person that I wanted to make proud. He wasn’t perfect but I’ll remember the best of him on occasions like this. 

When my grandfather was sick, he would write me letters from the hospital. On the back of the envelope he wrote, “Go letter, I can’t.” and “My love is in this envelope.” I remember his handwriting so well. He was my first true love, flaws and all. When I lost him, I lost a little of myself.

During those first years, my actual birth father was ‘daddy-Michael’ and still a person I saw somewhat regularly.  He was pretty young when I was born so being a father wasn’t a natural thing for him. He loved music and was determined to make sure I did too.  He played guitar and had a great voice. He would teach me harmonies and who people and bands like America, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and Janis Joplin were. He quizzed me on the names of each of The Beatles and the instruments they played. He told me he loved me often but it took many years before I think he really knew what it meant. 

My father was a free spirit and didn’t fit the mold his father, an Alabama deputy sheriff, had for him. 

He needed freedom but didn’t know how to be alone.

After my grandfather died, I moved in with my father and ‘daddy-Michael’ became ‘dad’. For a while, it was just he and I figuring it out. He tried. We got along well but honestly, he needed a wife or a mom. I quickly learned that I wanted my future husband (were I to have one) to be independent. I learned a lot from him. I loved him, flaws and all.

The man I call my father now met me when I was a 14 year old teen with a mixed up life and a need for stability. When I was 15, his wife (my mom now) told him that I was moving in and they were going to be my parents. End of story. I wasn’t there so I don’t know how he reacted to that statement. What I do know is that he became the father I had always needed. I call him Buddy (so does everyone else). 

Buddy showed me what it means to be responsible and dependable. He taught me about money and how quietly helping others is essential.  He never complains, even through cancer and treatments. He is a stellar human that is always there for friends and family in need without a single thought or a need for gratitude or recognition. 

Buddy walked me out on to the football field for high school homecoming court, he was there when I graduated from high school, college, and every important day in between.  He (and my mom) walked me down the aisle at my wedding and he was there to dance with me on that day.  Saying that he has changed my life for the better is a tremendous understatement.  He’s not perfect but he’s pretty close and I love him.

Adam and Dad K on our wedding day

My last dad, the man that I call Dad K, surprised me. This poker-loving, die-hard Yankee fan dentist from New York that has a Bronx accent was pretty intimidating when I first met him. He has become one of my favorite people in the world. He is intelligent, responsible and kind and has helped mold and raise one of the best men I could ever imagine, my husband. Dad K sets a standard for which all fathers and father-in-laws should strive. 

No, he doesn’t really like college football or roller coasters but I love him anyway.

There’s really so much I can say about each of these fathers and their roles in my life and the lives of others. The most important thing I can say is that I am very fortunate and I am grateful. I’ve come to realize that the things that I love most about all of these men is also alive and well in my husband.  As I wrote so much about in A Letter to My Daughters About Their Father, my husband is a terrific father and an amazing person.  I would say that I’m lucky that he’s the father to my children but, you see, it was by design. 

The man I met so many years ago, that was responsible and fun and played music (yes, it was CSN and America and all of my birth father’s favorites), had a warm heart and was great with kids.  I saw the father I thought that he would be one day.  It was all of the best of my father figures wrapped into one with a whole lot of other amazing and original qualities all his own.  He is now setting the standard.  My daughters may not realize it yet, but they are truly lucky. Well, maybe they have an idea...    

As you may have read, My Five Mothers | It's Complicated, my mother situation is complicated and my father situation is too. However, I choose to see the good and wonderful gifts that I’ve had. I know that I am fortunate. I am grateful for the things that they all have taught me and that they led me to the love of my life and the perfect father for my children.

Thanks for reading.
Much Love,

Also, I want to send a quick thank you to all of the fathers out there. As with mothers, that title is earned not just given because one act. Fathers, thank you for shaping our future. Thank you for standing by your children. Thank you for doing the hardest job in the world, your children are worth it.  

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