My mother and father divorced when I was 9 years old. This is the same age my father was when his mother lost her battle with cancer. Within the first year after the loss of his mother, my father also lost a brother to drowning and his grandmother to old age. Not long after these losses my father’s other siblings left home, and he being the baby was left to survive this devastating string of events with an emotionally and psychologically unstable father.
My father was never equipped to create and raise 3 girls, let alone 2 step children along with a wife who had untreated thyroid problems that caused a whole slew of psychological trauma on its own.
I am not real sure how we as children survived much of this. Thankfully, none of my siblings lost their lives, but we were all disturbed none the less.
We were, however, blessed with the presence of a man who walked into our loves so simply serendipitous. My mother was eating by herself at a restaurant one morning and was approached by a young man asking for a cigarette. This young man was accompanied that morning by his uncle who had noticed the petite woman dinning alone. He didn’t care if she had a cigarette or not, he really just wanted to know more about her.
Within a few months my mother and this man would be married in the living room of our home. She was in a mint green dress and he in slacks and a button down. It would make a third marriage for the both of them. Last summer they celebrated their 23rd anniversary.
In a few days, this man turns 56 and I have so many life lessons attributed to his sweet and kind spirit. He taught me not only how to play chess and to cast a fishing line, but he also taught me that among the chaos of life there are still waters.
I do not know much about where he came from and how it was that he made his way into our lives, but he was the bastion of hope that our family needed. He may not have been my biological father, but he was father to me in so many ways. I am so thankful for his being in my life and my family’s life.
He was the age I am now when he was given the choice by my mother to take on a family or move on. He chose the hard path, and he walked into a damaged home filled with broken hearts and managed to patch some things up by setting a good example.
I often contemplate where my life would be without his guidance and acceptance. He was the memory in the back of my mind that allowed me to see the good in the world. When my heart was broken by detestable men, I had the hope there were good men out there because of his representation.
I owe him so much for showing up in our lives and maintaining a place in our hearts, and for all of the effort and love that he put into my growth as a being. Just knowing the struggles he faced as a surrogate father encourages me to push forward when things get difficult in my own life.
I was and still am truly blessed by his presence in my life, and my wish as we begin our journey into 2016 and beyond is that others receive such a great blessing in their lives as well.