There are times in your life when you need your father, especially, during the mile markers and challenges in your life. Important events, such as, graduation, marriage and the birth of your children can be painful reminders to those of us who do not have our father figure in our life. The fortunate fact is there are other good men who can be in your life and step into that role or at the very least model for you what a good man and father looks like. This man does not have to be of your blood. It may be a mentor, a teacher, a family friend, an uncle, or a stepfather.
I am more than blessed to have not one, but two fathers in my life growing up and as an adult. From the age of two, I was raised by my wonderful and loving stepfather, Richard. In my childhood, he would be the only man I would ever know as ‘Dad.’ He taught me how to fish, ride my bike, playing in the mud was not just for boys, and ungrounded me often which annoyed my Mom! He also taught me boys have cooties that are highly contagious, how to defend myself and to not tolerate disrespect but to have self-worth. In my teens, my dad and Mom divorced but my ‘Dad’ did not divorce me! He remained a loving and constant father to me and continues to do so to this day.
It was not until I was a young adult that I discovered the truth that my Dad who was lovingly raising me was not my birth father. My biological father was an absentee father on all levels. My biological father knew I existed, however, he never came looking for me. At the age of thirty, I sought him out and met him for the first time. He is truly a nice man and I was able to find out all the family history and where I came from. We continued to talk for several months developing a new kind of relationship and then he just selfishly and suddenly disappeared from my life.
A dozen years ago my Mom remarried an extremely loving and kind man, Charles. He is a devout Christian, intelligent and one of the kindest people you would ever meet! Early on I witnessed Charles deep devoted love to my Mom and in my heart, that is when he became my Dad. Charles had been married previously, however, he never had any children of his own and he said that was his one regret in life. His only other regret in life was that he had not met my mom, Jeanne, when they were younger so they could have had children and more time together. Over time Charles and I, who I respectfully and lovingly call “Dad” developed a very close and loving father and daughter relationship. My Dad has lovingly been there to guide, mentor, and support me through some of the life’s greatest challenges in my adult years.
One year ago my Dad and I lost my beautiful Mom and his loving wife to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Through the two years leading up to her passing the three of us bonded together through this painful reality through our love for one another and our faith. We both miss Mom terribly every moment of every day, however, our shared grief and loss have brought us even closer together as father and daughter. We have supported one another through the best and worst of times. This relationship we have built, as well as, the relationship Dad has with his grandchildren (my four boys) is beautiful beyond measure.
I am sharing my personal journey with my two Dad’s to not only honor them but to encourage and inspire those of you who maybe still hold onto anger and resentment because you too had an absentee or abusive father. Make room for other male role models in your life and do not be afraid to let another male figure into your heart just because the one who should have stepped up stepped out. There are many good men that are willing to mentor or parent. Maybe you have a new stepfather or male role model but have not truly given him a chance or allowed him to step into that role because of your past experience with your birth father. To hold onto that resentment gives the absentee or abusive father your power, robs you of your joy and only hurts you.
These two men, Richard and Charles, have and continue to bless me with their fatherly love and presence every single day. I will love and appreciate them with all that I am and will do so for all of my days. These men did not have to raise another man’s child and continue to be there even when relationships and life changed. To call these men Step-Dads would be unjust as they have both more than earned the true definition of what it means to be my Dad’s!