Oh Father’s Day…

Have you ever wondered how days like Father’s Day and Mother’s Day can take on so many forms, for so many people? Take Father’s Day as an example: what does your Father’s Day look like if your child has died? Or your dad died? What if you’re a foster dad, or an adoptive dad? What about being a stepfather or if your dad
ran out on you? Or what if you had a happy childhood, your father is alive, all of
your children are alive and are all biologically yours, and you have no “daddy issues” to speak of? How
different do all these Father’s Days look for the men who have such varied experiences?

Through the years I have fallen into so many of these categories; the one I can say hasn’t changed is that
I had a happy child hood and I don’t have any “daddy issues” to speak of. My father is an amazing man
who has done everything he can to provide and protect our family. He has picked me up when I have
fallen and taught me to never give up. He instilled a work ethic in me that he got from his father; one I
strive to pass down to my children. He sacrificed so I could have amazing experiences like traveling to
places like Disney World, going skiing and to football camps. He bought himself a Jeep and allowed me
to drive it when I was in high school because I didn’t want to walk the 4 blocks to school. The only time I can think of when my dad wasn’t there for me. When I was (maybe) 5-7 years old, I was at the children’s sermon of church on Father’s Day and at the conclusion the pastor told us to go back to our pew and give our dad a hug and tell him you love him. I couldn’t hug him back in our pew because instead of being in our pew, my dad wasn’t there for me to hug- he was golfing. So I made sure everyone in that church knew it and I told the pastor, publicly I might add, “I can’t- my dad is on the golf course!” I think they had to mop that afternoon from all the adults peeing their pants from laughing so hard! In fact, not only did my little comment made the church laugh, it ended up in the town’s news
paper the next morning. So, Dad, let me say this:  I love you and I’m sorry I embarrassed you in front of the whole town.

What have my Father’s Days looked like? Not many spent on the golf course, for sure. For the longest
time, Father’s Day was simply filled with sadness as my kids weren’t here to do anything with or
embarrass me. From the very beginning, my wife always made sure to celebrate me as a father even
though my kids weren’t here with me physically. Over time, the pain lessened, and I moved into a new
phase of fatherhood – I became a foster dad. WOW those feelings were overwhelming on that first
Father’s Day as a Foster Dad. We had Pumpkin, who has had her own battles with “fathers” in her life,
and I simply wanted to honor that and make sure she was ok on that day, rather than focus on me. We also
had a young man with us who was so excited to be with me on Father’s Day and went above and
beyond to make sure I was having a good day. Unfortunately, his placement with us did not work out and he left our home and our family. Although it was what was best for him, as well as our family, I miss him even still.

I only had one Father’s Day as a foster dad because by the next year not only was I a father of four
angels and two living kids, I had become a grandfather as well. That year we had adopted our two living
kids, Pumpkin and Jar, and Pumpkin gave us the special gift of X-Ray. What a year that was! We started
that Father’s Day out with a visit to see the angels and then went to the mountains and rented a boat, a
tradition my wife and I had started a few years earlier.

The joy I felt that day was something I had never felt before – to have Pumpkin and Jar, my living kids,
wish me a happy Father’s Day is a feeling I can’t put into words. Last year the Wife was pregnant with
our surprise rainbow baby and about to pop, so we stayed close to home just in case I got an “extra
special” Father’s Day present. That brings us to this year and my Father’s Day looks like this: 3 living kiddos, 1 grand, and 4 angles. I’m a father of 7 and a grandfather to 1.

The feelings around that fact are so confusing; there is so much joy around my living kids, but there will
always be the longing for the other 4. My family will always be incomplete this side of Heaven and that
is just the way my life is. I try and hold on to the old cliché (that I hated in the beginning of my grief journey) that “they’d want me to be happy”, so we do things we love like going on a boat in the mountains or going to a BBQ
festival (because, BBQ). I look for angel kisses throughout the day and they never disappoint in sending
me little signs to know they’re still fully alive in my heart. My goal as a father is to do everything I can to bust my ass to make sure my kids are taken care of and those not here are never forgotten. I’ve seen a lot in my 10 years as a father; the deaths of four of my babies, to learning about the hell 2 of my livings went through before they came to me, and the surprise of welcoming a living baby into our family that I had completely given up on experiencing. It’s a cauldron of emotions some days yet I’ve come to accept it as my reality.

I will always bust my ass to make sure my three livings are provided for and protected as long as I can.
And I try my best every day so that my 4 angels looking down can be proud of me. I pray my children
never know the pain and heartache I have known and always remember how much they are loved by
their dad.

It’s Father’s Day and to all those dad’s struggling with what this day means based on the experiences
you have walked through, keep at it. You’re doing a great job. Take this day as a day to celebrate your
fatherhood, in whatever form it may come in, and take a breath… maybe some fresh mountain air or the
smoke-filled air of a grill barbequing delicious meat will do your heart some good today! I’m in it with you today and will be thinking of you all on Sunday.

Wishing you a Happy and Peaceful Father’s Day! Cheers!