June 04, 2013

Too Many Fathers

Father's Day baffles me for the most part.  I understand the sentiment behind it.  I just can't identify with it.  I've never had a "daddy" in my life.

Somewhere out there I have a biological father (or what the younger set crudely calls a sperm donor).  I've never met him.  I don't even know his name.  He apparently knocked up my mother and then rode off into the sunset.  If he's still alive he'd be around 70, supposing he was my mother's classmate.  I don't wonder about him much these days.  Why bother?  He doesn't seem to have ever wondered about me.  I do wonder, though, if I have siblings out there and if they know I exist.  It might be nice to read about him (and any other kin) or see pictures, but I don't have any desire to show up after 49 years and upset everyone.

My grandfather, Pappy, was the closest thing I had to a father for the first three years of my life.  I don't really remember anything about those days, but as I grew older I loved him dearly for the character he was and the laughter he brought into my life.

Mom got married when I was three and her husband adopted me and gave me his name.  He was quite a bit older than mom and came from the viewpoint of an older generation.  He had high standards for me (that I rarely met) and was a stern taskmaster and tough disciplinarian.  I had plenty of chores to do and if they weren't done correctly I could expect to be grounded for quite a long time or to have to write something along the lines of "I will not (insert my current crime)" about 1000 times.  In response, I tended to rebel and dig my feet in.  Mom called us a train wreck looking for a place to happen.  My teen years are the only time I dreamed of meeting my biological father.  I had fantasies of him swooping in to rescue me and take me off to a wonderful life of being his petted and loved baby girl.  

Adulthood gave me a new perspective on Dad.  He cried when I got married, which stunned me....and made me cry so hard I was still crying when my husband and I reached our hotel.  When my son came along Dad proved to be a wonderful grandfather.  That role was, sadly, cut short by cancer.  He lost the battle right after my daughter turned one year old.  In his final days he revealed his big regret was that he wouldn't be around to see my children grow up and his biggest fear was that they wouldn't remember him and how much he loved them.  He worried that he hadn't been a good father to me and said he had tried his best.  He made my husband promise to take care of all of us no matter what.  His final words were to tell me, his sister, and Mom that he loved us.  I wish I could tell him now that as my kids grew up I came to appreciate some of his protectiveness and strictness, not all of it, but some of it....and at least I understand that it was born out of love and concern.

These days I have what is, technically, a step-father, but since I didn't acquire him until I was in my mid to late 30s, I simply call him by name or refer to him as my mother's husband.  My son calls him by name, but my daughter who hasn't known any grandfather but him began calling him "Pap" or "Grandpa-pa" as soon as he and Mom married.  He's a nice enough man and does quite a bit for us, though I think he's as confused about his role as I am.

So, you see, I'm never quite sure what to do with Father's Day, but I have reached a place in life where I am able to see that each "father" gave me something.  Even the sperm donor gave me life and no matter what happens or doesn't happen, I know I have a heavenly Father who loves me without fail and that's more than enough.

**This is a blog hop.  I'm joining up with the lovely ladies (and much better writers than I) to pay tribute to our fathers.  Please feel free to visit some of the other blogs and read their stories.


Beth Zimmerman said...

Aw Stacy. I've known you all this time and this still surprised me. Not shocked ... just surprised. I'm sorry for the hurting little girl behind the tough rebel! I'm glad that eventually you saw the love that was hidden in strict rules.

Love you!

Karen D. Austin said...

I have the same experience with my mom's husband. They married when I was in my 30s, so calling him dad or step-dad is just odd. So I just use his name or say "my mom's husband." Yes, Father's Day can be tricky for many. You sound like you're managing pretty well with the complexities!

Lori Lavender Luz said...

I think you are a very good writer (and thinker). I like the way you bring it all together, with gratitude, in your last paragraph.

Stacy said...

Beth...I'm not surprised you didn't know. Other than a few mentions on the blog I really don't mention it much these days. No point in it.

Karen...It is definitely odd. I tried introducing him as my step-father for a while, but I don't think any of us were comfortable with that.

Lori...Thank you for the kind words. :)

Sharon Greenthal said...

It sounds like your father truly loved you, despite his somewhat heavy-handed disciplinary style when you were growing up. How fortunate that you came to love him so much.

I too have a "step-father" who my mother married when I was 49. I refer to him as Bill, or sometimes my mother's husband. He's truly one of the nicest people I've ever met.

Pam Houghton said...

Nicely written post, very nice! I never finished reading all the blog hop posts so sorry for the delay. Yes, Father's Day can be confusing for some of us!


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