Everybody has a "dad" story. I have two of them. My biological father decided I was a hopeless case when I was 17 and no longer would take his side in the demise of his marriage to my mom. You know what went through my mind when he said "make your choice, it's either me or your mother, you can't have it both ways"? I'll tell you. No fucking wonder she left him. Of course I was devastated that my parents split up, but I ended being his pawn. So I "chose" the person who didn't make me choose. Mom. And then he died a few years ago. And then I forgave him.
Fast forward to the present
My parents had a rash of bad luck health wise in 2012, and suddenly found themselves unable to travel. This was pretty hard on both of them emotionally because they were what I used to call "jet setters". Now I'm sure Nikki feels the same way about hubby and I. Anyway, they were great (and I do mean great) sports fisher people. My mom was Top Lady Angler of the Year and my dad was the best sea captain ever. Every summer they fished out of Ocean City Maryland. When my kids were little, we used to spend a week every summer on 11th street bayside in one of the bottom floor condos at Bo Pier. You can see where this is going I bet. They are aging, and it hurts me deeply to see they just can't do things anymore, like fishing.
Mom had both shoulders replaced last year, and Don had some heart issues. And yeah, they haven't gone anywhere in 18 months. Can you imagine being housebound for a year and a half when you are used to going somewhere every weekend in the summer, and spending weeks at a time tooling around the Caribbean islands on their own private yacht?
So Don and mom decided to come visit us. On a whim. They tried to get here two weeks ago, but a terrible storm system was parked over Philly and their flight was cancelled. They went back home and made arrangements to make the trip this past weekend. Thursday, the weather was awful, we had tornado watches and ugly storms on the horizon and honestly I was scared silly after the devastation in Moore, OK the week before. But they made it in before the storms hit, the storms that weren't so horrible after all, just a wicked sky, a little thunder, and lots of rain.
When they arrived, I told him how happy I was that he brought mom to me, and how big of a step it was for both of them to realize that they can travel again. Sure, maybe it's a little harder for them now because they are in their 70's. But they can do it!
The day before yesterday, Nik dropped the boys off for a few hours while she went shopping. I was tickled pink that Mom and Don would get baby time, because they needed it. The kids are a lot of work, the eldest is three and the baby is 18 months, so it's constant supervision while they are here! It took a little while, but Quinn warmed up to Don. When my kids were born, Don wanted them to call him Don. When I met Don the year I graduated from high school, he told me that although he loved my mother, he never wanted to take the place of my father. At 18, he stepped into my life as a father figure, without the title. I honestly believe that he had hoped for the best with my "real" dad, and that someday we would reconcile. But it never really happened.
And Don has been there since 1974. He's been in my life as the father figure that every girl needs for last 38 years. He came into my life not wanting to be a replacement father... he just wanted to be another person in my life who loved me. And how he loved me. I caused Mom and Don so much grief over the years. I definitely was not a model child by any stretch of the words.
So when the boys were here, I was repeating over and over "grandpa, grandpa" when referring to Don. My mom said, just let them call him Don like your kids do, like you do. And these feelings came up again... Don is my dad. He's been my dad throughout the years, as a mentor and a guide and so supportive and encouraging and loving and kind. The kind of dad every girl should have.
This morning before I took them to the airport, I had a heart to heart talk with him. I said, Don, you know you have been my father all these years, and I was so proud to introduce you to people around Muskego as my dad, to have someone in the restaurant that hubby and I frequent come up to him and say "You must be Karen's Dad!". I told him, I know all these years you didn't want me to call you "dad" because you respected the fact that my real dad was indeed my real dad. But my father died a few years ago. He's out of the picture. The pain still lingers, of being rejected as a daughter. But the pain isn't as great as the love I feel for Don.
I told him that I really would love to call him Dad now.
After all these years, yes, you are my dad.
And do you know what he said?
I would be so honored, I would love that so much.
Happy Fathers Day to both of us.
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