For My Step-Dad, with Love
When I was 13 years old, my Mom told me she was getting married and I was furious! Absolutely indignant, in the way that only 13 year old girls can be…closing myself up in my room, spending hours on the phone with my friends (the only people in the world I was convinced knew anything about life), and just generally trying hard to make others miserable.
Mom and I were supposed to be moving to England in a few weeks- that’s where she is from and where I was born- and I thought my life was over when those plans abruptly changed. Obviously I knew she had been dating my future step-dad for some time, but I didn’t think it was serious. He’d come over to pick her up for dinner a couple of nights a week and on the weekends too, and he was nice enough, but still. We were supposed to be moving to England for goodness sake, and we’d already been shopping and everything! I kept thinking, “How can she do this to me?!” (I am using the excuse of being 13 as to why I thought everything was about me…yeah, that’s it…)
I knew my step-dad’s three daughters. They had all been lifeguards at a local pool my parents took me to and I thought they were so sweet… that’s the only thing my teen-aged mind was right about because they are. Knowing we would be a part of the same family lessened the blow of not moving. When I met his son, I thought, “He seems ok.” Typing that now makes me laugh as I love him with all my heart and know he loves me too!
In the weeks before the wedding, my Mom was so happy and my selfish heart softened… a little. The service was beautiful and I could see how much he loved her.
My step-dad has always been an animated storyteller. He’d come home from work telling tales of what had happened in the hospital or clinic that day, and I was fascinated. He was very patient with my many questions. The influence he has had in my life led me to eventually become a nurse. Days of being polite to each other turned into his kicking the soccer ball with me in the evenings and then into “Can I come too?” whenever he had to run errands. Two of his favorite places were Radio Shack and the hardware store, and soon I was his permanent tag-along. He didn’t seem to mind. He taught me how to drive a boat, jump-start a car battery (many times, thanks to the very old Chevy Vega he had), use a come-along for fence repair, and to pursue knowledge. He’d become a constant in my life, always there, and I’m forever grateful. About a year ago, I was facing a professional dilemma and he was the only one I wanted to tell. I asked him, “Will you please listen to me as a doctor and then talk to me as my Dad?” That’s just what he did.
Fast forward through the decades…two days ago, we celebrated his 90th birthday. He loved telling stories as much as we loved hearing them, and it was glorious to see him so happy and laughing a lot! He shared with us, “I sometimes forget what a good life I’ve had!” Don’t forget, Dad, and please know how very much you are loved.