I Was Lucky, I Had 2 Dads Growing Up
Life used to be simple. I grew up on a working farm in the middle of nowhere called Ransomville, New York. We did our own canning
, freezing from our gardens. We worked hard, we heated our huge farm house with two wood burning stoves. One of which is in the kitchen and most of the cooking is done on it. My family was middle-upper class. My mother married my stepfather while I was young and they are still together and in love to this day. My father was always involved in my life. He took me all over North America with him and we traveled more then most people do in a lifetime by the time I reached middle school. My stepdad and my father went on hunting trips together. My mom and dad would have coffee while my sister and I waited for the bus after he’d drop us off from a trip or overnight visit. My dad was at every single family party at my mom’s farm. My mother’s still has dinners and a Christmas party for my father’s side of the family every year.
I never knew that when parents got divorced it was some awful thing. When I did begin to witness all the pain caused by parents fighting and getting divorces, splitting up and dragging each other back and forth to court. The yelling on the phones, in front of the kids, in public or whatever the only person they are hurting is the child. Women using children as leverage to get the father to do or pay what she wants when the father pays support on time, always shows up for visitation and goes above and beyond for his child. It infuriates me. Yes there are deadbeats both mothers and fathers but this post is regarding struggling single fathers just trying to do what’s right and fair and best for the child.
I was lucky. I never saw any of that. In fact when I got into trouble my stepfather and my father who got together and had a “talk” with me. I had the best of both worlds, whichever characteristics my father was lacking in such has temper tantrums over split milk, my stepfather had the patience of a saint when it came to teaching us things such as water skiing. My father would get frustrated and leave me in the water to swim to shore. My stepfather would give me pointers and teach me with patience and understanding.
My father, on the other hand, supported me in my everything I wanted to pursue. He was supportive on every level and even if I screwed which was getting pretty bad before he died he would say, “Aimless, you got the shit end of the stick.” He always believed in me. When he died, a part of me died with him. This year is the first year I have been able to grieve over my father’s death without relapsing or falling to pieces. I am finally facing and processing my past in a safe, healthy environment with a professional who specializes in addiction, trauma and mindfulness training.
My stepfather was loving in his own way with patience and guidance. He always was careful to make sure we understood completely and fully whatever it was he was teaching us. He was the authoritative force in my life that drove me to success. There were four of us girls growing up with a two year difference between each. I was the oldest, then my sister 2 years younger than I and then our twin sisters, 2 years younger then my sister. We all have high achievements, prestigious awards and honors. We have all graduated with Master’s degrees. In fact my younger stepsister, one of the twins, was the Valedictorian of her graduating class in high school. My stepfather pushed us to study hard, work hard, no excuses and no weaknesses for which I am grateful for. If it were not for his parenting style I may never have received the awards, the honors, the scholarships, the recognition that I did if it were not for him and his expectations of us girls.
I was a very lucky girl. I had two dads. Some gets do not even have one. They both had different styles of parenting but it all worked and balanced out to bring me all the way through graduate school. Hospice House was built in Lockport, NY and my dad helped pass legislation to have that facility built. My dad and the late Senator Daly are the first two bricks in the sidewalk under the flagpole donated by my family in honor of Senator Daly and my dad. How ironic that we brought him there to die, he never woke up from the coma after his massive stroke at 74 years old. It was there when my stepfather took me outside and said the most comforting words, “That’s not your father anymore Amy. You cannot remember him this way. You have to focus on all of the adventures he took you on. All the wonderful things he did and everything he taught you. You hold that image of your dad’s smile in your heart, don’t let it go and do not focus on what’s in that bed because that’s not him, deep down you know that.”
I had two dads growing up and life used to be so much simpler. Today I can see my dad’s smile. I can see him at peace and I know he is guiding me through my struggles and holding my hand all because my stepdad helped me to forget the withering, dying body and focus on who he really was, what he stood for and how proud I am to be his daughter.