I met my dad when I was 6. He was a loud, cantankerous fellow and I was mostly scared of him. He liked rules, and my older sister and I were pretty used to running our house the way we liked to. He came in and kind of cleaned house, as far as the BS was concerned. It was easy to break me, I was 6. My sister, on the other hand, was on the verge of adulthood at the ripe age of nearly 12. My mother had been a full-time working single mother for years, and as far as my sister was concerned, we were doing just fine, thank you very much! It took some getting used to, but eventually, we all melded together into a family. Not long after that, my dad’s two children from his previous marriage (who had spent a couple of summers with us) moved in for good. They came from the Seattle, Washington area. They were different. They said “Dad” instead of “Daddy” and we still pretty much said, “Ray” or “Mr. Ray,” I can’t remember which. That took some getting used to as well, but eventually we did.
Growing up was an adventure in my house. While I was most afraid of my dad, I know now looking back that he saved my ass (literally) from many beatings. My mother always wanted to beat the bad out of me, and my dad wanted to talk it out. When we moved from our little town in south Louisiana north to central Louisiana, it was a big adjustment for me. He adopted me that year, when I was 14. He later adopted my older sister when she was an adult, for the sake of completeness. She was already his daughter, they just made it official.
My dad is very stubborn and set in his ways. He’s predictable. He’s strong willed. He’s painfully precise. If you ask him his opinion on any given subject, he will give you his first impression opinion but then will spend hours researching all aspects of it, and then give you his newly informed opinion. He tackles problems from a very scientific viewpoint. He draws maps and grids and flowcharts to illustrate things to you. He takes good care of my mother, and he treated my grandparents like they were his own parents. He’s a good man.
He’s not perfect. But neither is anyone reading or writing this post. His two biological children have now abandoned their relationship with him for all intents and purposes. They don’t call or write or come by (though one of them lives less than 5 miles away from him.) They are both parents themselves. I can’t imagine that they think that they have the right to hold their dad up to some kind of standard that surely they themselves have not managed to meet. Family is supposed to support each other, lean on each other, and forgive each other for each member’s shortcomings. Now that I have 4 children, it hurts me to know that they just gave up on a relationship that was theirs for the taking. They are depriving their children of a relationship with their grandfather. It does make me angry. He doesn’t express anger when he does talk about it, but you can see in his eyes that he’s sad about it.
I never knew my biological father. I sometimes wish that I knew something, anything, about my biological father and his family…knew where I came from, the stories and the characters in the storybook of my life. But I have never missed out on having a father. I know that I have a dad, and have for nearly as long as I can remember. And I appreciate that he’s been there for me, through the thick and the thin. He would do anything for his kids, and his grand kids. I know that, I have seen that. And I appreciate it.
Happy Birthday Dad, from your daughter.