Happy Fathers’ Day to all the dads out there! My hope and prayer for you all is that you know how loved you are, how important you are to all who love you, and what a profound difference you make in the lives around you.
This being my first Fathers’ Day without my father, I remember him and thank him in my heart for all he did for me. I thank him for being the kind of man who grew and changed with the years, and who sought knowledge as eagerly as a plant seeks water.
My dad came from a childhood where his mother showed him constant and unfailing love. His father, for reasons of his own, could not. When dad was young, his father never ruffled his hair and told him he was a good boy, played with him or encouraged him in any area. Dad grew up with trust issues that didn’t resolve themselves until much later in life.
I watched my dad throughout the years, and was proud of him for his efforts to grow and change and rise above the dysfunction of his father. I watched as he read all he could about healthy living. He believed, as so many do now, that a plant-based diet was the best way to go for good health.
When Mom was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, she took many medications and infusions to help. Dad put her on the “cancer free” diet; basically no sugar, no processed foods, no dairy, very little meat and no artificial anything. The main diet is fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, small portions of organic meat, and the like (look this up; it’s a real deal). Because of this, Mom lived a lot longer than she would have on just the medications.
Because of how he had lived as a boy, he decided that marriage was not for him. His parents’ marriage was constantly in an uproar, and fights were frequent. We have laughed over the circumstances that lead him to marry Mom and adopt me when I was four years old.
Here’s what happened:
He was sitting in a waiting room in Philadelphia, getting ready for his interview to be a radio announcer. While he sat there, he found a Maine newspaper and idly began to read it. There was a tiny ad in the classifieds for a television cameraman/announcer in the new station, WTOO, in Bangor, ME.
Without thinking, he got up, told the receptionist that he had to leave, and drove all the way up to Bangor, ME. Not only did he get the job, but he met my mom, who at the time was hosting a TV swap show.
A few months later, they began dating. Mom was in the process of a divorce, and she was understandably nervous about starting a new relationship. When she let Dad meet me, I liked him right away. He often showed up at our apartment with bags of groceries because he thought we were both too thin.
Months later, Mom was offered a new and better-paying job in Portland, ME. Although she was already falling in love with Dad, she told him that this was an opportunity that she had to take to make a better life for me.
I can’t imagine the mix of feelings he had to have had at that moment. He told me years later that he might have been able to walk away from one of us, but not both of us. So he grabbed my mom by the shoulders, took a deep breath and said this following “romantic” proposal: “All right, goddamnit, I’ll marry you.”
Needless to say, this was a family joke for years. We have all felt that this was no coincidence; it was a meant-to-be.
So on this first Fathers’ Day without Dad, I remember him for so much. I will always love him for marrying my mom and adopting me. I will always be grateful for all he taught me and for how much he loved me and my mother. He was truly a father who fathered and did it well.
Thank you, Dad. I love you.