I chose my own dad. I was about four years old when Mom and Dad started dating. Mom had been divorced from my birth father for quite a while, and she and Dad met on their jobs in Bangor, ME. We had wonderful picnics and drives together as I went with them often on their dates. I especially remember picking buttercups with the man who would soon adopt me, and I remember asking him if I could call him “Daddy,” and he said yes.
I know that many adopted children boast about being “chosen” rather than simply being born to their mom and dad. I understand now that sometimes kids get to pick their parents, too. So I really did “adopt” my dad.
Biology doesn’t make a father; it is love, choice, commitment, kindness, understanding and decency that makes a father. The Hawaiians have got it right when they include and embrace non-family people into their own family; it is called “ohana,” or ‘extended and blended family, not just blood relatives.’ You don’t have to be related to love each other.
With the loss of my mom last December, Dad and I have become closer. We talk with each other every morning and afternoon, and I treasure each phone call. Twice a week, I or the Crankee Yankee and I go up to visit him and go out to lunch. Afterwards we chat for a while, and we do some little project or other that needs doing.
Dad tells me often to just take what I want from the house; I appreciate that very much. But the few things I will eventually take into our own home can wait. Right now I am happy that Dad is comfortable in his home with all that is familiar and has been for years.
He does very well each day, getting out in the morning to meet the world and see his friends and have coffee with them, go for the occasional walk, pick up some groceries and the mail; all things that make a pleasant routine. When I am not there with him, I picture him in his chair, reading and always striving to learn new things, keeping in touch with his old friends, and making a life for himself.
Of course we both miss Mom; she was our North Star, our point of light and a big presence in our lives, her friends’ lives, and in the community. Somewhere in previous posts I have mentioned what Dad told me shortly after she died: “If I had been the one to die first, she would of course have mourned and missed me. But she still would have gone out with her friends, stopped in three times a week for coffee with the gals at the local bookshop, gone out to lunch now and then; in short, she would have LIVED. And that’s what I intend to do: to LIVE.”
So, we two who used to be “we three” go on—loving and supporting each other, and
“*…talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”
So, from that long ago day of picking buttercups, there is this wonderful, precious and amazing connection between my dad and me. It enriches both our lives, and makes a soft cushion between missing Mom but being present ourselves.
Even at four years old, I was smart enough to choose the best dad for me.
*From “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” by Lewis Carroll, 1832 – 1898