Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Three Dads


It has been a really, REALLY long time since I've blogged. However, tonight lots of different emotions are coming over me as I think about tomorrow, Father's Day, so I thought that writing about them would help me sort them out and to feel a bit more grounded. So, here goes nothing. Heck, I'm not even sure that I know where to start so I'll just jump in feet first!!

Let me my life I have had three fathers! Yes, you heard me right. Three. Yes, I will be happy to explain.

First, of course, there is my biological father. His name is Chuck. He and my mom divorced when I was eight years old. Their marriage wasn't good at all, even at eight years old I knew that. In a nutshell, he drank entirely too much and and his idea of contributing to a family was to be the bread winner. After they divorced, we lived with my mom and were supposed to visit him every other weekend. Somehow, he sobered up and our new life seemed to start off as good as it possibly could have. However, after a short time he became involved with a woman who would become his wife. Her name is Rita. She is his wife; not my stepmother. To say I have bad feelings towards her would be the largest understatement ever in the history of the world. She is a mean, selfish, evil, hate filled, awful person. He somehow fell under her spell and sat back and allowed her and her children from a previous marriage slow but surely destroy the relationship I had with my father. She made the time we did spend at their house a complete living hell. He seemingly allowed this behavior and basically seemed to choose his new family over me and my twin sister. Although, looking back, I know it wasn't intentional. Back then, there wasn't much talk of blended families and there surely wasn't anyone around offering people help on how to handle blended families. He was newly remarried and I am sure he didn't want to rock the boat, so being passive must have seemed to him to be the easiest road to take. We all just do the best we can at any given moment to get by. Anyway, he was, for the most part, absent from my life as I went through my teenage years and my twenties. I would get token phone calls from him on my birthday and on Christmas which made me happy. During every call he would say that he was sorry, that he missed me, and he would promise me that he would some how make things better, that he would somehow make up to me all of the hurt he had caused, that he wanted to see me, that he loved me. Being young and naive, of course I believed him. Unfortunately, he never kept or followed through on his promises and the scab would be peeled away from the old wound and the pain would resurface all over again. At some point though, I think it was after I started having children, I realized like most children do, that even with all of the crap that had happened between me and my father - he was my dad and somehow I still loved him and wanted, even NEEDED, some sort of relationship with him. I am now 40 and I can say that we have clumsily forged a relationship and see each other a couple of times a year. It was awkward at first, but has gotten so much better. I would even say it is comfortable and pleasant. I enjoy being with him and spending time with my aunts, uncles and cousins on his side of the family. I will say that our relationship does not include his wife. I will never allow her to poison my world again. Ever. After lots of tears, honest talks, soul searching, praying and some hugs along the way, the hurt is finally gone and forgiveness has taken place. I am no longer mad and bitter towards him. He has A LOT of regrets about the things that happened all of those years ago and about the time we missed. Honestly, so do I. Today, I believe with all of my heart that he loves me the best way he knows how and you know what, that is ok. I love him too.

Enter my Daddy. His name is Ralph and he has a bigger heart that many people I know. He and my mom met shortly after her divorce from my biological father, Chuck. I am pretty sure I was nine years old when they got married. He is what a daddy should be. He loved me and my sister from the very beginning. As we were growing up, he treated us like princesses. He is the one who helped take care of us when we were sick. He is the one who held us when our hearts were broken. He is the one who comforted us when loved ones passed away. He is the one who walked us down the aisle on our wedding day. He is the one who tried his best to make our every hope, wish and dream come true. He is the one who met nervous boyfriends. He defended us when we needed it. He scolded us too when we needed it. He always wanted to legally adopt us. However, Chuck (my biological father) would never allow it. When we were close to turning 18, my mom and dad set the wheels in motion starting the adoption process. As 18 year olds, we were legally adults and didn't need our biological father's permission to be adopted any longer. So, on the day of our 18th birthday, we went to the lawyers office, signed all of the legal documents and our "step dad" because our legal father... our daddy. He always had been, the only difference now was that it was legal and official. Unfortunately, when I was about 25, my parents divorced. Even though I was an adult, it rocked my world. It was rocked further when my daddy remarried. He married someone that I never would have chosen for him. She seems to be very materialistic and she definitely has a lot of insecurities about his relationship with me and my sister. He is not allowed to come to my house as my mom lives directly behind us. She has, in my opinion, intentionally caused some problems with my relationship with my daddy and again, he has allowed it. In a weird twist of fate though, given what I have been through with my biological father's wife, I refuse to allow his wife to ruin this relationship. I try my hardest to make the best of it and to be accepting of her and her ways. The relationship I have with my daddy is different now than it used to be, but he is my daddy and I love him with all of my heart and I know he loves me. He always has and he always will. I am working on not being bitter about the path this relationship has taken. It isn't easy, but I am trying. My mom reminds me that the bad things that sometimes happen now with him and his wife do not make null and void all of the years he spent pouring his love, time, attention and devotion into me and my sister. She is right. He was, and still is in his own way, the most amazing daddy a girl could have asked for.

::::wiping tears from my eyes and taking a deep breath:::: Man, this is tough!!!!

Next, there is my stepdad. His name was Cass, but we all called him "Pops." He was amazing! I am trying to remember exactly when my mom and him met. It was either in late 1997 or early in 1998. They were married in December 1998, in the most beautiful wedding ceremony I have ever seen. Lane was born a month after they were married and you have never in your life seen a grown man more in love with his grandchild. Or a baby more in love with his grandfather. He taught Lane to crawl. He fed him new foods. He changed diapers. He played with him. He went with me to some of Lane's doctor visits. He walked the floor with Lane when Lane had colic to give me a break. He was so kind, so very generous, so full of life, so loving, so funny and just a bright light shining in all of our worlds. He was crazy, crazy protective of me. I was going through a very difficult period in my own life at that time and Pops was like a knight in shining armor to me. I will always be eternally grateful for him and his love. The time we had with Pops was cut entirely too short. A few months after he and my mom were married, he was diagnosed with cancer and went home to heaven in July of 2000. During the months he was sick, I did things to help take care of him that I never dreamed I could do...but that is what happens when you love someone. I wanted to do anything I could to help him. Sometimes in life, things happen that we will never understand this side of heaven. One of those things for me is trying to understand why God gave Pops to us for such a brief time and then called him home so fast. I also know that thanks to God's promise to us, we WILL be reunited with Pops in heaven one day. The time we had with my Pops were filled with more love and happiness than some people have in a lifetime. And, while the pain of losing him never goes away, I don't regret loving him the way I did, still do and always will.

So, there you have it. The story of my three fathers. It has been a long, sometimes very very painful journey but journey has also been filled with lots of love and happiness. I am blessed to have had all three of these men in my life. I have learned very valuable, life changing, life impacting, important lessons from each one of them. These are lessons that I try daily to pass along to my own children. All of these things have molded me into the person I am today. God put each one of these men in my life for a reason. I trust my Heavenly Father above all others. I am still trying to learn lessons from these three relationships. They are all so different and my relationship with each of them was/is so different. Finally, I can openly say that yes, I have three dads. And, for the first time in 40 years, as crazy as it may sound...I am totally, completely, 100% ok with that.

Happy Father's Day to ALL of my dads.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Lesley, this is powerful!! I'm so happy you blogged about this. For the first time, I feel like you have finally worked through your feelings, and learned the lessons of unconditional love. That makes me feel so good, and so hopeful for your future peace of mind and spirit.
Chuck loves you in his own way. It is what it is, and I'm glad you've accepted that.
Ralph was THE most amazing daddy to you girls. He loves you with every fiber of his being, and always will. I'm so happy you are realizing that bitterness only further blocks a relationship. We often get out of a relationship what we put into it, and allowing others to get in the way only hurts us and can block the free flowing of love.
Cass will always be a bright and shining time of love in all of our lives. He adored you girls, and the three grandchildren we had then. Lane was his heart.
I cried through reading your blog, and through writing my reply. Both tears of sadness and regret, but also of happiness and joy. To see your emotional and spiritual growth in this blog makes me so happy for you. You seem to have made your peace with it all, and that makes my heart smile. From this day, go forward with love and the understanding you have found.
I only wish your fathers had done as good a job as I did in giving you and Lauren loving "steps". ;-)
I love you, Lesley, and am very proud of where you are now.

Dawn said...

Who knew you were still blogging? I updated mine today and saw you on the updated list lol. Sweet post!

Lesley said...

Haha!! I hadn't updated it in forever, but decided to try to write those feelings down to get them out and it helped!! I'm going read yours too, LOL!

tifi said...

glad you came to an understanding somewhat with your dad. i truly hope that your stepmother changes, and that she apologizes. but at this point, you're already the bigger person, by forgiving.