My father died when I was 19. It was hard to deal with because he had been sick with lung cancer for 2 years before he succumbed to the disease. His death was really hard on my sisters and I. As it was, we didn’t get to see him that often because he and our mother had been divorced for most of our lives, and a lot of our time with him was canceled due to his work. As we got older, and physically moved apart from him, that short time became even shorter. When he was the sickest, he didn’t want his family to see him weak, broken, dying – and I understood that. My last image of my father is a sad, sad one. I of course hold on to the memories of him, and miss him daily, but am more relieved that he is no longer suffering.
But don’t feel sorry for me. Despite my father’s absence, I did not grow up fatherless. My mother met her current husband about 15 years ago, and from the beginning he’s been there for me. He would side with my mom when fights happened and it was my fault, and vice versa. We went on family vacations with him to Europe and New York. Christmas time always promised a fabulous breakfast and excellent presents, all courtesy of my step dad.
My step dad, let’s call him ‘Bob’, is the person I go to for specific advice – just like a dad. He helps find someone to fix my car, goes over my resume when I’m looking for a new job, and even helps me find delicious recipes for Thanksgiving. He’s always thinking of me when he sees something funny online, and I’m constantly getting funny and interesting emails from him! Bob has been there me for a large part of my life.
He’s seen me hit rock bottom, and stood by my side as I climbed back to the top. He has patiently listened to me lament about bad relationships, and encouraged me by telling me they’re not good enough for me anyway. He puts things into perspective for me when I start getting too wound up in the drama between my sister and mother. He recommends me to friends and colleagues if and when they’re talking about needing an interior designer. He agreed to take in my dog for 4 months when I couldn’t keep her at the house I was living in. And he’ll be there for other milestones in my life.
The list could go on. Father’s Day is a day of happiness for me. It reminds me of what I have, not what has been lost.
Bob – I love you and thanks for being my dad.