I originally wrote this post on Father's Day of 2011. It still rings absolutely true today, but there's one Dad that needs to be added to the list. So stay with me, because I'm getting there...
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Father's Day is both simultaneously a holiday that is a little awkward for me, and one that I only truly began to appreciate this year. For anyone who knows me, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that I've struggled with "Daddy issues" in the past. This year, however, I became exceedingly aware of just how blessed I am to have the privilege of experiencing life with more than one Dad. Each one has taught me something so different about what it means to be a father and a husband. Insight, that I imagine, most people may not be able to boast of.
When I was 10, my mom and biological father, Emmett, were divorced. However, there was no real grieving to be had by my sister and I for the end of our parent's marriage because about a month or so later, my Dad suffered from a massive stroke. The stroke paralyzed his right side and his speech took a huge hit. To this day, he must use a motorized scooter when traveling a large distance and walks with a serious limp, his right arm is completely useless and the only words he can clearly state are "I love you" and various obscenities. Perhaps, most upsetting for my sister and I were not the physical repercussions the stroke left in its wake, but the fact that it left him a complete shell of the man we grew up with. It was almost as if the day of the stroke, our Daddy died and a crippled, depressed old man took his place.
Enter Dad #2. About a year after the divorce, my mom was remarried to a 6'5" 300-lb biker by the name of Ed. To sum up, the consequent 6 years were the most terrifying and hellish years of all our lives. Ed suffered from a serious alcohol addiction and was one of the most genuinely mean people I've ever known. If a shirt was cut too low by his standards, I was deemed a slut. If Kelly's laundry wasn't put away when he wanted it done, she would be hit. Heaven forbid, an argument were to arise between he and my mother after he'd been drinking, she'd receive a black eye. We endured more verbal and physical abuse during those years than I think anyone should ever have to experience and I honestly struggle to this day to forgive him for the hurt and hopelessness he inflicted upon the two people I love the most in this world.
When we finally escaped the hell of the House of Pain, we had about a year or two of "just us girls." While we were grateful to have a life again, that time was no less difficult for us. We were incredibly poor, transitioning between homes, and mom was dealing with the inevitable depression that resulted from the dissolution of her abusive marriage. Not long after though, my mom found consolation in a friend she'd known for years. Enter Dad #3, Kenny. Now obviously, after what I'd endured with Ed, I was more than a little skeptical when the new boyfriend started showing up and for lack of a better word, was a lot bitchier than I should have been. But Kenny stuck it out, and eventually proved that there is no way he had it in him to ever hurt my mother or one of us girls. But more so, that he loved my mother with every ounce of his being. This one was here to stay.
My Daddy instilled in me an amazing ear for music. Through his talent as a musician, I've gained such an appreciation for the beauty in every genre of music. I also inherited his goofy, sarcastic sense of humor. There are very few people in the world who actually get my sense of humor, and I absolutely have him to thank for that. I have his eyes, his nose, his big noggin and his intelligence. I am 50% Emmett James Best and proud of it.
Ed helped mold me into an incredibly independent and strong woman. I am fearless, yet appreciative of every blessing I've had bestowed upon me. I am a survivor. He unintentionally taught me about the power of forgiveness and allowed me to have an even closer relationship with my two best friends: my mom and sister. Perhaps most profoundly, however, he led me to Dad #4, Jesus Christ. Because of his involvement with AA, I began attending Church and was saved from my sins, and saved from a violent home by the grace of God alone.
Kenny has illustrated what it means to be a balanced man. Looking at his tattoos, scruffy face and Harley apparrel, it would be easy to assume he was a gruff, stone-cold biker. He is possibly the most sensitive and warm-hearted man I've ever met. He tears up at every birthday card, hugs me the instant he sees me and tells me how beautiful I am when I visit home and seizes every opportunity to let his kids (biological and step) know how much he loves us.
Each one of these men has had such a profound impact on me and I truly am the woman I am today because of them.
To my Daddy, to Ed and to Kenny, I thank you and wish you a Happy Father's Day. I am blessed beyond belief.
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Since writing this post two years ago, I can happily add a new Dad to the list- Chuck's father, Loren. I am so thankful to Loren in so many ways. For the last two and a half years, I have never seen him fail to open the car door for Chuck's mom, Sherry. I have watched him in countless moments of patience when Sherry or one of the kids has been late running out the door (I'm pretty sure he's the only punctual one in the entire family). I've watched him captivate his kids with stories of his youth and political/historical anecdotes.
Basically, every good, chivalrous and wonderful thing that makes Chuck the amazing husband that he is, was learned from watching his father. Happy Father's Day to you too, Loren. Thank you for blessing me with your son.