For many, Father's Day is one of the least significant "holidays" of the year. It pales in comparison to Mother's Day (and I am totally fine with that).
When I sat down, I was going to write a funny piece busting on how little fan-fare there is for Father's Day compared to its counterpart... but then I would be perpetuating the "problem". (It's really not that serious. We can all relax).
I might still attempt to write a funny post... but this is not that post.
I am lucky enough to have a father figure in my life worthy of praising. Thirty years ago, I would have never imagined I'd be typing that about this particular man. Fortunately, 46 year olds are much wiser than 16 year olds (and hopefully say fewer stupid things to police officers).
So this one is for you George!
When I was three years old, my mother and father got divorced. I spent the next six years visiting my father every Wednesday afternoon... with a few weekends sprinkled in here or there. When I was nine, he died.
Happy Father's Day everyone! Thanks for reading!
This is not a sad story. When I was seven my mother married a man named George.
George looked a lot like Neil Sedaka when he met my mom. I know none of you young people know who he is. Google him.
George happens to be the quietest person I have ever met in my life. He is basically silent. Recently I told my daughter that Grandpa had said that he wanted to hear her and her brother play their musical instruments. She looked at me like I had just grown a second head. She cocked her single head and said, "That's impossible. Grandpa never talks." She wasn't kidding... and she was right.
To further illustrate this point, my daughter likes to do impersonations of people in the family. When I ask her to imitate my Mom, her eyes get wide, she changes her voice to sound very excited and slightly more mature and says, "Oh my lovely grandchildren. Just look at them. Everything they do is just so wonderful. Here have a toy!"
When I ask her to imitate George, she gets a blank look on her face and stares ahead.
Both are spot on impersonations.
I met George when I was 6. I lived with him from the time I was 7 until I turned 21 (with some time away at colleges sprinkled in there). During those nearly 14 years, I probably had five conversations with George ... and that is on the high end. We didn't go to baseball games. We didn't play catch. We didn't go to the movies or dinner or watch TV together. It is important to note that for much of that time, George worked the night shift as a security guard. That made it even more difficult to connect.
So how are you doing George? Nice talk. Try again in 15 years?
On top of that, George is not good with kids. He simply doesn't know what to say to them. He is so naturally quiet and introverted that he struggles with adults. So trying to figure out how to communicate with kids was torture for him.
And yet, when I was 7 and my sister was 10, this man who was so uncomfortable around kids, chose to add two of them to his life.
Why? He loved my mom... and my sister and I. I wrote that George had trouble interacting with us as kids. He never had trouble loving us as kids. He just had his own way of showing it.
George showed love by pulling my mom and her two kids out of poverty and giving them a chance at a happy life. He welcomed me into a house. Not a cockroach filled, rat infested apartment... a real house like I had seen on the Brady Bunch.
He made sure we were able to go to the doctor and the dentist. And I mean a real dentist. Not the 75 year old guy who treated us for free... while his hands shook the entire time.
We ate healthy food every evening and slept in our own warm bedrooms every night. Every year we got brand new school clothes and shoes. We did not need my aunts' and uncles' hand-me-downs anymore. When we were sick we had the proper medicine. When it came time for high school, he paid to ensure that we didn't get stuck at a failing public school. He took us to Six Flags and Disney World.
He gave us a childhood.
I will. Thanks George!
I did not know it at the time, but his providing us with these things came at great sacrifice. You see, George was working extra shifts to give all of this to two kids he met when they were 6 and 9 years old.
George was a provider. He provided us with everything we needed to meet our physical and educational needs. He provided my mom with the freedom and the time to attempt to meet our emotional needs.
Then he provided me with my twin "little brothers". Although they are 38 now, they will always be my "little brothers". They are my best friends in the world. Thanks for providing them for me George (oh and Mom)!
As I have become older, George and I have had more and more conversations. He isn't great with kids... luckily I didn't stay a kid forever.
Things really changed when I foolishly bought a fixer-upper house when I was 30. George happens to know how to fix or build everything in a house. I truly believe he could build a house from scratch all by himself.
On the other hand, I know nothing. I can swing a hammer (if you point me at the right nail). But that is about it. For one entire summer, George and I worked side by side remodeling every room of that house. As we worked, we talked and joked. I had discovered George had a sense of humor.
George's sense of humor is slightly better than this.
I hated working on the house. In fact, I have decided that if there is indeed a Hell and I end up there, my job will be to remodel Hell. Then every day the devil will burn down my work so I have to do it again... for all eternity. (But that is a different story for a post all its own).
I despised the work, but I loved spending time with my step father.
I finally had the amazing father-son moment I had always wanted.
After that shared common experience, we talk a lot more now. We even joke.
Better late than never.
But now I need to go. My kids bought me the Lego Batman Movie for Father's Day.
Wait. Maybe George is good with kids... considering I am obviously still a child.