I got out of my Mother’s car. It was an old, green Dodge Dart. I got out one town over from where we lived, and walked up to the door of my Father’s house, the one he shared with a different woman, and different kids.
His new family.
My mother had been a wreck for weeks. Her child support payment was late. This I knew because I overheard her talking to my Aunt in our kitchen days earlier. They were sitting around the table, where the water leaked from the ceiling, down the cord, across the shade, and finally into the ice bucket placed beneath the light that hung above it.
This happened every time it rained, or the snow melted.
That dang light worked perfectly until the day I left that house, nearly a decade later.
But I digress.
My mother was a nervous wreck, and I didn’t understand why.
I mean, sure, Dad hadn’t picked us up the Friday before, for our ‘normal’ every-other-weekend visit. And, sure, his check was late.
But even at my young age, I figured her nerves were more about how hard it was to drive to the house where her husband now lived with another woman, and her three kids. And their new baby.
My mother told me to go to the door, and ask my father to come outside to talk to her.
So I walked up the walkway, and knocked on the door.
And when a man I did not know opened it, I figured it was a friend of my Dad.
But this man seemed confused when I asked for my Dad.
So I asked again.
And this man said he wasn’t sure where my father was.
So I asked for the woman who owned the house, my Dad’s ‘friend’.
And he said he didn’t know where she was either, and then I noticed he was uncomfortable. He was looking over my shoulder, to my mother’s car, where she and my six-year-old sister were waiting.
And then the strange man told me that this was his house. He said that he and his family had bought it two weeks before.
I think I just turned around and started to walk back to the car, because I remember my mother getting out of the car, and I remember telling her what the man said.
She went to the door and talked to the man for a few minutes.
It was a very quiet ride home.
And just like that, my father lost his ‘Dad Card’, and became forever identified in my mind as ‘my father’.
What do you do with that?
Well, you live.
You live through ‘sad’, and ‘mad’, and ‘confused’ and enjoy the good bits and get to the better bits.
Sure, as I grew, and my life was put in context, I realized that the cards I was dealt weren’t the best. Sometimes it felt like a pretty raw deal.
As I grew, I paid attention.
I figured out who I wanted to be.
First, I needed to be Independent.
Willing to take a chance on people.
And you know what?
I really wanted Dads in my life.
Sure, I wasn’t dealt a great one.
But I’ve had great ones.
One took me under his wing, after I ended up working in his organization on a summer day when I chose to take a temporary secretarial assignment instead of going to the beach.
I was eventually offered a permanent job, and worked there for ten years.
I got my college education at this man’s urging, and he guided and mentored me professionally and personally along the way. He eventually shared his family with me, his incredible wife and kids. He changed my life. His name is Bob.
Another Dad opened up his home to me when I didn’t have one. He and his wife wanted to be sure I’d finish college, and knew I could not afford a place on my own, and books and gas and a car in addition to an apartment’s rent. He is selfless, independent, and sometimes grouchy. But that’s because he is the Old Yankee Man.
The third great Dad?
I married him.
I never had any doubt that he would be a great Dad.
He is supportive, and funny.
And he is devoted to his kids.
His name is John (or Nearly Perfect Husband, he answers to either).
On my wedding day, Bob walked me down the aisle. He ‘gave me away’ to John. And The Old Yankee Man sat in the front row smiling.
My kids consider Bob and his wife, Linda, their grandparents – on my side.
And it’s pretty dang cool that The Old Yankee Man, a.k.a., ‘Grampa’, lives with us now. Which seems fitting and more than fair, considering our history.
I am lucky to love that he and Granny are here.
And John? Well, he makes it possible for me to experience, every day, what a great father is, and can be.
Which is pretty dang awesome.
So, back when I was eight or nine or ten, I learned the difference between a father and a Dad.
And all has turned out to be okay.
I like the sound of ‘Dad’s Day’ better than ‘Father’s Day’ anyway.
It’s a little more personal.
A little more meaningful.
A little more me.
And, a little more them.
Happy Dads’ Day Bob, Old Yankee Man, and John.
That apostrophe was moved on purpose.
Thanks for readin’.
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