My mother never married my father. For years, I felt as if a piece of me was missing. Every so often, I would cry myself to sleep, thinking, “How could he not look for me? Does he not love me? What did I do to make him not want me?” I had so many questions, but I was afraid to even mention any of these to my mom for the longest time. You see, I apparently look like my father, and since he and my mother are not the best of friends, I did not want to spark another conversation about how things ended between them. A girl could only take so much.
I used to fantasize what I would say and do if I ever saw my father. Then one day, my mom spotted him driving behind us in an old red pick up truck. He, of course, did not recognize me as I waved to him from the back seat of my mom’s brown Taurus. I cannot even describe the emotions that swelled through my six year old body. He was like this celebrity I had always wanted to meet, and I had actually spotted him with my naked eye. How cool, right?
As I grew up, I heard so many stories from various people about my father. Some good, some not-so-good. I’ll spare you the details. Just know that many tried to deter me from ever meeting and getting to know my father. But you know, I hate when others try to pass off their opinions as facts. I like to get to know people for myself. Who knows? All those horrible things people said could have been sparked by jealousy or God knows what! So, I planned to smile whenever I heard something about my father, but refrain from allowing my vision to be clouded with that person’s opinions.
At the age of 17, I finally got the chance to meet my dad. I had been writing letters to him for a few months, and my oldest sister offered to take me to see him. I was the happiest girl in the world. He was in no way how I imagined. I finally figured out the answers to some of the missing pieces in my life. Certain things clicked now. Like, I wasn’t weird after all for eating peaches, strawberries, or blueberries in my Honey Nut Cheerios! And, I got my artistic skills from both my father and mother. And, the reason I love the smell and feel of wood, as well as building things, is because of my father! How cool is this guy, right?
In all of this, the man my mother actually married never changed. He understood why I wanted to meet my biological father, and he was okay with it. He never tried to stop me from meeting and getting to know my father. He was never threatened by the fact that my father still existed, and had a hold on me. That’s a real man, you know? He remained constant, unchanging, and loving.
Things started off just swell between my biological father and me. We had a lot of fun times together, and I learned some things. Then, I got married. I didn’t have a traditional wedding. My hubby and I went to the court house, and enjoyed our special moment with a few close friends. Neither of us had the money for the fairy tale wedding, but what we did know was that my husband’s parents survived 40 plus years of marriage. Did they have this off the charts wedding? No, they did the same thing we did. Apparently my biological father is old school and wanted to get to know my beau, and give his approval of our relationship prior to marriage. Well, I missed that memo somewhere down the line. However, the man my mom married, the man who actually raised me, the one who has always been constant and there…he gave us his blessing. So, for me, everything was A okay in the universe.
Now that I’m older, I realize that sometimes we can focus so much on who isn’t in our lives, that we forget about the wonderful people who are in our lives. For 17 years, I allowed myself to be consumed with a man who was never there for me. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful that I finally met the person who is half of the reason why I’m here. We have not always seen eye-to-eye, and we do not have the traditional father-daughter relationship. But I will tell you who does. The man my mother married, he and I, we do. He’s my hero, you know? He took me in when I was five years old, and has always treated me as if I were his own. For every good and horrible moment of my life, he’s been there. When I needed advice and guidance on how to live life, he’s been there. When I just needed a laugh or a hug, he’s been there. So, to me, he is much more than just “the man my mother married”. HE is my father, my friend, my confidant…my hero, the real MVP.