Yes, I realize I'm a week behind on this. However, I'm blessed to have three amazing fathers every day of the year, so I figure I can celebrate any time I so choose.
I was lucky enough to see my biological father earlier this week. We don't seem to keep in nearly as close contact as we did when I was a child. I took it for granted then but I really miss it now. I think I need to take a page from my daddy's book and make communication a priority between us again.
As a child my mom and dad divorced when I was pretty young. I didn't get to see my dad very often, but he never let me forget I was special to him. Every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. my daddy would call me. Yeah, I know, a weekly phone call doesn't seem that important. This was before the time of cell phones, though. If daddy was traveling, he'd sit at a McDonald's on the side of the road for twenty minutes to make sure that he'd be near a pay phone at exactly seven. He was known to put a date on hold right in the middle of it in order to call me when he said he would. He snuck out of board meetings on the nights that they would conflict with our phone calls. It didn't matter what was going on in my father's life on a Wednesday night, I was always his first priority during that moment in time. We might not always be able to talk very long during some of the calls, but he always found the time to call me to tell me hello and that he loved me.
My step-father told me that he loved me just as obviously, if not just as loudly. I was a downright shit as a teenager, and yet he never washed his hands of me or forced my mother to raise "her" daughter. Even when I was a nasty, stubborn, egotistical teenager he still raised me as if I were his. I didn't always appreciate that fact, but he did it none-the-less. Today, I appreciate it more than I'll ever have the words to tell him. He is the man who showed his love in subtle ways. As Superintendent, he attended many school functions that most parents aren't privy to attend. At my NHS induction I was the only student whose candle was not lit by the group's sponsor. Instead, I knew how proud he was of me when he stood up to light my candle. He's the one who went to bat for me when I didn't always know how to communicate with my mother. He's the one who when I spent a summer trying to not explode my spleen would tuck in an extra bit of cash along with the check for my rent and groceries along with a note to spend it on anything I wanted for myself that I didn't want to have to explain to my mother. He has given to me and my life so generously and in so many little ways regardless as to if I deserved it or not, and so often I didn't. He simply gave because he married my mother and as such I became his daughter. He has taught me a great deal more about what real love is by both his relationships with me and my mother than any love story or chick flick ever could hope to convey.
Finally, I was given the gift by my husband of a marvelous set of in-laws. My husband's father was a boat mechanic and a Baptist preacher. He no longer serves a pulpit, but he still fixes boats better than just about anyone. It's not always a glamorous job, but it's one he does exceptionally well and with great pride. My father-in-law is a strong, solid man with great respect and love for God and for his family. He counted me as a member of that family from the first day he met me. I know he must not have always agreed with my life and the decisions that his son and I have made together, but he has never let that show. My husband and I lived together for almost a year before we were married legally, it took us time to save up the money for a wedding and by sharing household expenses we were able to save for it much more quickly. My father-in-law must have been heartbroken by this choice, but he never showed it. I was always welcome in their home and greeted with open arms and loving support. When we did marry we chose to do so in a very non-traditional format that did not take place in a church. Despite this, my father-in-law pronounced our marriage at our wedding and signed all of the legal paperwork. When he told his son that he could kiss his bride my father-in-law was almost choked up with pride as he handed his eldest son away in marriage. My father-in-law's faith does not believe in the ordination of women. Despite that, he supports my personal goals to attend seminary. In my father-in-law I find unconditional love and support of who I am as a person and as a daughter regardless of if he supports the choices and decisions I am making. No matter where I go in my life, I know I will always find a home in his house.
Things have changed a lot in my relationships with all three of my fathers over time. I no longer speak weekly with my father, in fact, sometimes we don't even manage for monthly phone calls. He lives on a large farm in Iowa now with goats, chickens, a horse, and plans for possibly adding in cows. He and my step-mom adopted two foster boys and continue to take in other foster kids as needed. Yet despite that, when we do get the chance to talk, I'm still his little girl and still know I'm just as important to him and to his life as I've always been. My step-dad retires at the end of this summer and he and my mom are talking about buying a home just an hour from here. I'm looking forward to a relationship with him as an adult where I'm able to let him know just how much I enjoy him and how much I've always appreciated him, even when I wasn't mature enough to be able to let him know. We've moved further away from my father-in-law and now have puppies to whom he is allergic. We get to see him much less frequently now, but we still talk as often as we're able.
Some children go through the entire lives not knowing the love and support of a caring or loving father. I've been blessed enough to be given three.
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