Our Dear Ol’ Dads
Father’s Day is on June 20th. I always had a difficult time picking out just the right present for Father’s Day. What do you give the man who has given so much of himself throughout your life? A tie just doesn’t seem like enough.
The man I considered “Dad” was my stepfather, John. Our original father decided marriage and fatherhood wasn’t for him. I was very young at the time and can count on one hand the number of memories I had with him. No bad memories, just very few of them—the last being when I was 8 years old. He just sort of quietly exited our lives and that was that.
Enter John. John was just what we needed (even if we didn’t know it at the time). Here was a man, never married, who decided he wanted a wife with three kids…a ready-made family, as it were. Oddly enough, it was our original father who introduced John to my mother. John was an auto mechanic and Mother’s car needed repair. I was too young to recall the particulars, but after repairing Mom’s car, he cut off ties with our father and was soon a regular visitor to our home, mostly on weekends.
At the time, I was a bit shy around grown men. I suppose having a mostly absent father had something to do with that. However, John was determined to gain my trust. After consulting with Mom, he came by one Saturday afternoon to cook dinner for us (he loved to show off his outdoor grilling skills), and he brought me a present. I was 7 years old at the time and have never forgotten that Saturday. Here was a grown man, waltzing in, carrying a little baby doll with layette. I shyly walked up to him and asked him “Who is that for?” With a huge grin on his face, he answered “Who do you think it’s for?” Oh, it was precious. A little baby doll with a bassinet, a baby bottle, clothing changes…he must have spent a pretty penny on it, and I loved it. My shyness dissolved. It was about a year or so later that he and Mom married.
He was such a warm and caring man. The whole family—including extended family—simply loved him. Of course, he was everyone’s go-to mechanic, but in our home, he was also someone you could always depend on and trust. As a child I looked up to him; as a teenager, I could cry about teenage things and he would patiently listen and offer advice; as an adult I was proud to have him as my father.
It’s been many years since John has passed on, but I would not be the woman I am today if it wasn’t for his gentle parenting skills. Of course, it took him a while to learn to be a father, but he mastered it, and I can’t imagine having anyone better as a father and a role model.
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers, stepfathers, and any other person taking on the role of Dad in your family.
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