Father’s Day is approaching and every year at this time I get a little introspective. Until I got married and had children, I never celebrated this holiday. Not even once. Why? Well, simply put, I didn’t have a father. Obviously there was a man that helped in my conception, but aside from a few random phone calls in my early tween years and a faint, very distant memory of an arthritic hand delivering to me a giant teddy bear before I was four, he was not involved in my life.
I’m only a third party to the story, so I only know what I have been told. Apparently the man who fathered me was a much older, married man. Married to someone other than my mother. It was a mutual decision between my parents that instead of infringing on his “actual” family, it was better that my mom and I just go our separate ways. She sent photos every year and kept in touch with him sporadically if she could contact him through his place of employment.
I never really knew that I was supposed to have a dad at home. It was just my mother and I, going through life’s journeys. Once I started school and made friends, it slowly became apparent to me that my family life was different from the other kids. I began to ask questions. I was always told that my father was a great man. I believed it then. When I got a little older, I asked more questions and was given information that was supposed to explain why he was not a part of my life. It was supposed to satiate the curiosity. It did…for awhile. Again, I asked more questions. This time it was arranged for me to speak with this elusive “father” on the telephone. The few conversations that followed were incredibly awkward and one-sided. What on earth could I say to this man who was a stranger to me? I just listened and mumbled quick replies to his questions. Then he had a stroke and his speech became slurred and hard to understand and I was told that he wasn’t going to talk to me anymore because he did not want me to hear him “like this.” I didn’t really have a reaction. I was a little saddened, but my life had always only had one parent, so nothing was changing.
Several years went by. We moved. I started high school. I got curious again. Because of an unfortunate event, that destroyed all of my mom’s photographs before I was the age of three or four, I had never even seen a picture of my biological father. My mom placed a phone call to my father’s place of employment only to discover that he had passed away nearly a year earlier. Whoever my mom spoke to said they would send us a program from his funeral and that was that. I felt oddly numb. Should I cry? Should I be sad? It felt surreal. I felt as if no matter what I really felt, the decision had been made for me: I was never going to know anything about my father or the other side of my family. Never going to know my half brother. Never going to know what features of mine came from him. Never even going to know what on earth he looked like.
I came to some conclusions. First, I questioned the image my mother had laid out. How could such a great, honorable man not only commit adultery, but then father a child and WALK away from her? Second, after some minor searching for my unknown half-brother, I decided that even though I felt it was unfair that I will never know about that part of me, I’m going to move on and live my life anyway. The man is gone now, hopefully a saved man who now sits in Heaven. I have no desire to disrupt any ideas or relationships that he held with his other child(ren?) and wife by showing up on the scene. That’s just not my style. They couldn’t answer the questions I have for him.
My last conclusion didn’t come until recently. I have been blessed to be married to a man who loves his children with all of his heart, who thrives on spending time with them and who couldn’t ever fathom being apart from them. I can watch with joy as they all look up at him and call him “Daddy” and know that his strong arms will be there to catch them when they fall. They will know, without a doubt, that their father will always be a part of their lives until his dying breath. For this, I am thankful beyond words. Watching them, I wonder what I missed out on, but I’ve begun to realize that even though I never had a father or even a decent father figure throughout my growing years, and even though I still feel twinges of sadness and a small ache in my heart from missing that integral part of my family, I have a Heavenly Father who has never, ever left my side. Through all my childhood traumas, through all the heartaches and tears, through all the years that I desperately cried inside for a “Daddy’s” shoulder to cry on, for a protector… I had one. One who loves me no matter the circumstances. One who is not ashamed to call me his child. One who will never leave me or forsake me and one who I cannot wait to walk beside in Heaven.
And to that, I give a hearty Happy Father’s Day!