Okay well it wasn’t donuts but I had breakfast this morning with the man who I came to know as “dad” later in life almost an adult really…
My mom married Mike just as I was heading into sixth grade. Moving and changing schools was nothing new to me. Almost exciting, a change in pace, A new life, a new family, a new town it really was like that carrie underwood song, a temporary home because I learned that people always leave and you move forward with or without them. That people didn’t really fight to be in your life or to be mixed up in your mess…
I should have known all along that he was different. That he wasn’t going to leave. I should have known that he wasn’t just wasting his time with late night talks in the barn after I had done something wrong because he was with my mom. That he didn’t put in the effort and spend time teaching me how to work a horse and all the responsibilities that came with the fun of owning animals and a ranch because he needed a ranch hand. That he didn’t keep me busy with chores and hard work because he couldn’t do it all on his own. I didn’t even realize I was learning the value of hard work or that he was instilling good work ethic and drive in me. I didn’t learn that he was truly my dad during the talks on the front porch on the swing after I had gotten into a screaming match with my mother and hated her with every fiber of my being. I didn’t realize that he was teaching me compassion and that we don’t hate the person, we hate the actions of those who hurt us, for my benefit. I thought he did it for her, to stick up for his wife. I didn’t just learn how to drive a car, I learned how to share a vehicle and to treat it with respect and take care of the important things or that vehicle was not going to serve you well if you neglected it. I didn’t realize that he shared his vehicle with me not because he couldn’t afford another but because he wanted to teach me these important life lessons of not getting things handed to you and to take care of what you have.
I didn’t realize that with every practical life lesson he taught me was a deeper meaning behind the time he spent, the time he took to mold me into the woman I am today….
I thought that the day my mother had a police officer with two garbage bags full of clothing waiting for him at the door when he came home from work was the last day he would ever want to be in my life. I was 19 years old married, living on my own, pregnant with my second child, days away from delivery and I thought I had lost my family. It was the first time divorce was something that felt unnatural and painful. It was the first time a dad had decided to stay despite my mother. And when I went into the hospital to be induced for my stubborn Lexi it was my dad who I called. My dad who spent 36 hours holding my hand helping me through the roughest labor I would ever endure that ultimately lead to the disappointment of a cesarean delivery. It was my dad who was there through it all and my mother who hid and only focused on the pain she was going through only to show up when all the work was done and the happy pictures were being taken.
It wasn’t the first time he had been there for me through labor, but it was the first time I realized he was there for me. Not because that was what he was suppose to do as my mother’s husband or what he had to do because of who he was but because he wanted to be there. Because he was my dad and he loved me unconditionally and wasn’t going anywhere. Because he knew his little girl needed him despite what was going on in his life. I didn’t realize the lesson he taught me was that it doesn’t matter what we have on our shoulders family is family and you’re there when they need you.
He has proven it over and over again without me even realizing or appreciating it. Supporting me through a teenage pregnancy, through a heartbreak at 16 and 8 months pregnant when the boy who said he was in this with me left and decided to find another girl. Held me close and listened to me cry when the words of an immature boy cut deep into my soul. He was supportive when that boy came back to me. He was loving and understanding when I cried that all I wanted was to make an unbroken family with this boy and our daughter. Let him stay to help care for our daughter because it’s what I needed and our daughter needed from this boy despite the deep seeded anger I’m sure he had toward the hurt he had bestowed on his little girl. Proved he was there for me when that boy lost his job and we couldn’t afford our home or any of the bills letting our little family of four move into his home. Bitting his tongue and letting us learn the lessons we needed to learn on our own. Celebrating in the victories like finishing high school, getting married and finishing nursing school. He also mourned my poor decisions of moving out at 17, a marriage that was preemptive and immature, an affair that broke not only my spirits but my family, and a divorce that was innevitable.
He continues to teach me grace and mercy and unconditional love on a daily basis. A man strong enough in his convictions that when his little girl came to him asking to take her soon to be ex husband into his home so that our four daughters had twk stable homes and that the boy who hurt her so many years ago and continues to do so could get on his feet for our daughters he agreed. He is strong enough to do this for his granddaughters who despite their blood line are his and his alone. He attempts to teach this boy how to be a man far past the time that he should have learned from his own absent father, not for that boy but for those granddaughters who now more than ever need a man like my dad. Someone who puts aside his own hurts and focuses on them and what they need in this life. Someone who can support them and teach them they are enough. That he will always be there for all the memories good or bad despite what is going on with their mother(me) and him. That he is there not because it’s what is expected of him but because it’s what he wants to do.
My dad, my hero. Teaching me without saying a word. Teaching me through action. Teaching me through the trials and errors not by pointing them out or criticizing my flaws but by showing me grace and mercy and understanding and loving me for me even when I’m making the wrong decision or a perceived mistake. By being present and willing to listen to my rationale and my reasoning for the things that I do and giving me credit where credit is due and not trying to change my mind but giving me understanding and another way to look at things so that I can refocus my own priorities and make my own decisions because he knows me and he knows me well.
He knows his little girl is a force to be reckoned with and forcing me into doing something or being someone I don’t want for myself is not the way to go. He knows that telling me what to do or criticizing the path that I’m on is sure a way to drive me further into the wrong direction. He knows I am smart. Knows I am kind. Knows I will always do what is right for my girls. Knows that I’m stubborn, like him. But also knows sometimes I have to slow down and reevaluate and make sure that my reasonings and intentions are aligned with the priorities I have set for myself. Knows that I need him now more than ever and will forever continue to prove that I’m worth the frustrations and heart break I most certainly cause him.
I listen to my dad, though it’s not the words that I hear but the content of his character that reach out to me and show me who I need to be. Who I am. Who I’ve been taught to be. I love my dad more than words could ever express and I hope he knows how much he means to me and how much he changed my life for the better because without him I would be a very empty and lost little girl.
Thank you Dad! I love you so much and though I could never repay everything you have given or taught me, I know that just being your little girl is payment enough for you and that me and me alone in all my broken glory is enough and will always be enough for you.