Since my Father passed away when I was little, I don’t have a biological Father to celebrate on this day. Almost all years it has not bothered me. It was just a fact of my life, not having a father. My mom always took care for us to do something special this weekend while growing up, such as planning a family vacation or stay-cation (before the verbage was there and they were all trendy and such). To this day, she and my eldest brother still do some sort of activity or trip.
This year, despite all the years in the past, I’m really sad that I don’t have a Dad to celebrate. I’m not sure what it is exactly about this one, but I think it has something to do with how thrilled the kids have been today to lavish love on Thomas. I don’t remember past years being like that, and I as I have had a bit of solitude today, I would like to say I sat and pondered and reflected upon all the fond memories I have with my Papa, as my brothers and I called him. Sad fact is though, I don’t really have any. Despite my uncanny ability to remember things now, I don’t have the mind of steel from my younger years, so I was too young to remember the way he smelled, the way he laughed, what his hug felt like, the song he liked best, the scruffiness of his beard, or even his favorite food. I just don’t know.
In fact, I only have 2 memories of my dad. 2. And one of those is from being at his funeral, so I guess it really only comes down to 1.
On pay days, I’ve been told my Papa always came home with something small for all 3 of us. It was a surprise for us, something little and fun to brighten our day. I recall one gift from him: a little blue purse with a red strap, complete with a clear plastic flap on the front that contained school like supplies. I remember him holding it down to me as he walked through the white front door. I remember immediately loving it. I remember the pencils, the strawberry pencil sharpener, the shaped eraser, and the crème de la crème, red scissors. As my heart took flight over those scissors, my Papa must have saw it in my eyes, for the next thing I knew, he was cutting open the clear plastic fold to access the supplies, taking out the scissors. He told me I was not old enough for them, and my little what I think was 3 year old heart, sank.
He was right though, I was too little for them, for at the ripe old age of 5, after he had been gone for a few years, I cut all of my gorgeous red hair off while my mom mowed the yard and my brothers and I “cut coupons.” Don’t believe me? I have the Kindergarten end of the school year pictures to prove it. Although a pixie cut is cute on a little one, they are generally best accepted by the parents when it was a conscious choice to get one.
So, I don’t have the memories, but what I do have is people that stepped in his stead, teaching me to be who and what I am today, growing my life spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Some by accident, some by force, and others by choice. No matter how, the point is that they did. They did, so today, I want to say Happy Father’s Day to my Father Figures:
1-My eldest brother, Damien. I remember Damien teaching me how two people can take naps on a single couch. He told me it would be important one day when I wanted to cuddle. I can still get teary eyed when I think about the times he carried me up the steps to my bed to sleep. Sometimes I was full asleep while others I just played possum. With him at 16 and me at 9, he took me to the Girl Scout Father Daughter Dance, so that I wouldn’t have to stay home. He taught me that no boy would ever be good enough for me (although I could look for one to come pretty close), and if a boy ever hurt me, he would hunt him down and set things straight. Damien fixed my cars and taught me how to do some of those fixes on my own. He made sure I knew that I was strong enough to take care of myself, but if a time ever came when I decided I couldn’t, didn’t want to, or felt overwhelmed by it all, he would be there to step in and help. If I sit and think on it long enough, I can get back the butterflies I use to feel when I saw his truck coming in the drive way, home from college for the weekend. What a fierce love.
2-My second eldest brother, John. Even though we were much closer in age, John still influenced me. He is the one I can thank for my sound knowledge in Star Wars, Star Trek, Sci-fi, and other geeky elements, for with that I have been fully prepared for life with Thomas. John showed me that even though a person can function on a very different level or have totally difference preferences, you can still have a raw and true love for that person. His fervor for Christ, reading scriptures and seeking more, challenged me to grow. I remember how we would fight but not too long later be back to friends. I should most likely contribute my fast running to him too, for I needed speed to get to safety when Damien wasn’t around to defend me. John helped me to imagine. Whether it be playing a game or staging our toys, the standard was never enough. We had to do something cooler, bigger, neater than we had ever done before. His aliens had to eat my baby dolls. His Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had to kill my Barbies. Albeit a bit bloody, his ability to think of something more and not to settle for the bland ol’ normal playing of dolls taught me to never settle, dream big. He’s taught me to think and listen at times, rather than just be angry. I miss seeing him frequently, but I love that he cares, across the many miles between us.
Those two were forced to fill those roles in my life, but I am so glad they did. I am thankful to Father-like figures, also loving brothers, to help me grow. Even though neither of them are fathers in the official sense, I thank them today for being who they are to me.