I have been thinking a lot about fathers lately. My biological father, David, in particular and how he relates or compares to other fathers that I come in contact with throughout my life.
My birth father spent 7 years with me. Living in the same house, watching me grow up, theoretically, being a father. Yet one year after my parents divorce, he was gone. I haven't seen him since I was 8 years old. I have spoken with him 3, maybe 4 times in the past 20 years. Wow, even to write that is astonishing. I remember once when I was about 14 or so, my mom somewhat threw us on the phone together (in a desperate attempt to help forge a relationship) and he blathered on and on about his step-daughter getting ready to go to college... couldn't remember how old I was or what grade I was in (let alone that I lived and died by the New Kids on the Block)... nope, rambled on about Laura, the (apparently) world's best step-daughter.
The last time I spoke with him, I called him just before 10:00 pm about some paperwork that I needed filled out. Deadlines were approaching and I needed it done so I could keep medical insurance through the military until I was finished with college (as was my right as his child)... and he got angry that I called so late. The conversation lasted maybe 3 minutes. I hung up before I started crying (ANYONE that knows me knows that is quite a feat) because I couldn't bear the thought that he would know how much he hurt me. I was 19. I haven't spoken to him since. I doubt he knows my mom is dead... actually, I doubt he cares. I doubt that he cares that I could quite possibly be alone in the world.
So I look at people in my life and fathers that I know now.
There is the father that attempts to have a relationship with his child but is blocked for one reason or another. The father that tries to know about his child but isn't let in. This guy, he is my hero. It doesn't matter if he always gets through or not... it is the effort and attempt that make the difference. I pray that when his child is of age, the love that is there will finally be able to be seen. I hope that it will be evident why he wasn't there all along and that his child will love him for the effort. Hang in there... from a kid that truly was abandoned. I would love to hear that my dad tried.
There is also the father that takes on more than necessary. The one that 'adopts' the older sibling of his biological child, even though they aren't blood relation. The one that loves his wife's child as if the child were his own... The one that has no problem adopting a child of a friend in need because there is no where else for her to turn... The father that earns money to support them and then, at the end of the day, goes home, kisses his wife and walk right outside to play with his 'children'. This guy is also my hero.
Then there is the father that comes in later in life. The one that doesn't do anything particularly heroic, or at least that is what he would say. However, in reality, he is quite heroic. The one that manages to erase years of hurt by another man and restore the lost confidence. The one that steps in and shows, by actions, how real love is supposed to work. The one that stands by through much pain and suffering and through the very worst of times and comes out the other end, still as strong and loving as ever. The one that I couldn't possibly live without.
So to all the fathers that I know... Thank You. I love you guys.