Growing up there was nothing more I desired than to have a dad. You were always my father, but I never thought of you as my dad. A dad is someone who is present in the life of his child, and you were never there.
You weren't there to teach me how to ride a bike, throw a ball, or take me fishing. You weren't there to tell me stories about your childhood or bedtime stories at night. You weren't there to celebrate Christmas or my birthday. You weren't there to teach me how to drive a car, change the oil, or work on the engine. You weren't there to give me advice or teach me life-lessons. You weren't there to encourage me in those times when I doubted myself and my worth. You weren't there to lift me up in those times of struggles and defeat. You weren't there to teach me how to be a father, a husband, or a man.
Your death on Thanksgiving Day, 1970 forever changed my world, and my life. Don't get me wrong, I had a great childhood. I was blessed with a mom who loved me with every ounce of her being and who sacrificed much to make a better life for my brother and me. I was blessed to have my grandparents live with us most of my life and I treasure the many life-lessons that they taught me. But I always longed to have a dad.
I spent so many years blaming myself for your absence in our family. Maybe if I had been a better kid. Maybe if I looked more like you. Maybe if I had never been born.
I longed to know that you loved me and that you cared about me. I always thought that you were ashamed or disappointed in me, and that was why you were never there. I made up stories in my mind to explain your absence that always had you in the role of the hero.
I can't remember ever hearing you tell me that you loved me or that you were proud of me. That is probably the reason that not a day went by when my kids were growing up that I didn't tell them that I loved them and how proud of them I was. My kids are all grown (well, mostly!) and I still remind them often of how much I love them and how very proud I am of the people that have become.
Over the decades the few memories of you that I had faded. I forgot the sound of your voice many years ago, and the one picture I had of you was almost unrecognizable. I had so many questions that could never be answered, and I so longed to be able to spend just an hour with you. The one thing that remained constant across all the years was my need to know if you ever really loved me. But I came to accept the fact that I would never get an answer to that question, and that left a void in my life.
But then a few months ago, through a very unlikely series of events, I was able to connect with Uncle Billy's and Uncle Wayne's wives. Aunt Elsie and Aunt Mary Ann have been a blessing that I never thought I could experience. Aunt Mary Ann sent me many photos that belonged to you, and I wept when I sat down and looked at them. You had our school photos, and so many other photos of us that you obviously carried with you. It was in this moment that God showed me that you truly did love me.
I still have so many unanswered questions, and I know that you had your struggles and demons that you fought, but I now know without question that you loved us the best that you could.
For the first time in my life I can honestly say, Happy Father's Day Daddy…I love you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope that it was a blessing to you, and I would be honored to read any comments that you might have. If you enjoyed this post, please click "like", and if you would like to share it, please do. Above all, if you find yourself struggling with your relationship with you earthly father, know that you have a Heavenly Father who loves and cherishes you beyond anything that you could ever imagine. Turn to Him, He will never fail or abandon you.