This is the month when we single out the fathers in our lives for a little recognition.
Dads often don’t get the credit they deserve the rest of the year, and when their special day rolls around each June, their kids have a hard time coming up with the perfect gift to show them just how much they appreciate all that they do. Give a mom a bouquet of dandelions from the yard or a box of candy and she’ll blush and gush over the gift. Moms aim low. Dads generally have higher expectations all the way around.
Which is why the Good Lord created dads. Because life is often more of a dandelion patch than a rose garden, after all. Moms are squishy and soft when it comes to their kids. Fortunately, most dads are pretty squish-proof, at least on the outside.
My birth father was a tall, lanky boy in a leather jacket and blue jeans when I entered the scene. I study the few grainy black and white photographs from that time for clues about who he was then, pondering the course of events that brought my real dad into my life a few years later. That man was a young GI, fresh out of the service who met my mother and ended up with a ready-made family. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Anyone can father a child, but it takes someone pretty special to raise another man’s child.
And he did. Two of them, actually. Through childhood and adolescence, he was there. I can drive darn near anything (including a snow plow) because of him and he’s the only person I know who can diagnose over the phone with almost 100 percent accuracy what the noise my car is making means. This has come in handy more times than you can imagine. When I was young, he always told me I could do anything I set my mind to and he wasn’t lying. He was there the day I graduated from high school and has attended all three college graduations, as well. He walked me down the aisle the day I was married and has been “G-Pa” to my kids from day one. In all the big and little moments of my life, he has been present. Adoption? Not a foreign concept to him. What’s to explain, after all? I carry his last name as my middle with pride. He wasn’t a perfect father any more than I was a perfect daughter, which is fitting since nothing in life is ever perfect, I suppose.
But he is my Dad. Not very squishy, Kind of stubborn. Wobblier than he used to be.
But always, always there.
And that has been more than enough for me.