I attended my Dad Joe's funeral Friday, and I'm here to tell the story. Instead of telling the story of how my half-brother tried to make me feel insignificant - even during my Dad's funeral ceremony - I'll tell the story of how the relationship that wasn't was, and how I think it's made an amazing difference in my life.
As a little girl, I fantasized ALL the time about how amazing it would be to have my Dad in my life. A couple of my friends had Dad's, and I just could not understand why I did not. I've accepted God's divine plan at this point, but on my bad days, it's still hard to accept what I lacked as a child.
-- I wanted to give my Dad all the crappy cards we were forced to create in elementary school to celebrate Father's Day.
-- I wanted to eat with my Dad at the Girl Scout's Father/Daughter luncheons.
-- I wanted my Dad's honorable name to display on my report card in that blank "Parent" field just below my Momma's.
-- I wanted my Dad to scare all the boys that gathered the nerve up to come to our house. I mean, my Mom did it, but it just wasn't the same.
-- I wanted my Dad to teach me guy stuff: fishing, boxing, killing bugs. Shit, scratching, I don't care!
-- At every parent-teacher conference, when the subject came up, I would've been happy as heck if my Dad would've been able to chime in when the snotty teacher asked my Momma if "a man was in the home."
Honestly, I just wanted some normalcy; not normal to my neighborhood or my little impoverished city where about 80% of the households were led by women (with no men), but normal to TV: Cosby Show, Leave it to Beaver, Family Ties, A.L.F., well damn, even The Simpsons.
So, I've come to grip with my childhood. I'm 34 and a Christian, so I've let go of the unfairness of not having my Dad in my life.
Besides, since the age of 18, my Dad has been amazing. He truly became my best friend.
-- My Dad knew that I got off at 5pm to go home, he'd call me 4 or 5 times a week and talk to me until I got home.
-- I almost dropped out of college, but my Dad came through with tuition to keep me in.
-- My Dad was amazing with my boisterous, hyper, always sports-minded sons - keeping them distracted for my entire trip to Texas by playing, football, catch, and "boy games" with them.
-- I could count on my Dad for giving me an honest insight on what made men tick. . He was an old Baptist minister, but he did not pull any punches. He always called a spade a spade.
-- When my Mom passed away, my Dad was my rock. I'm not touchy-feely, but I happen to know that if he did not hold me so tight during the entire ordeal, I would've fallen apart and just faded away. .
-- My Dad said he was sorry. He said he was sorry for hurting me. And that heartfelt apology, along with my faith in God, made the sting of him making me feel invisible as a child wear away.
The relationship with my dad that I was able to build over the last 15.5 years has taught me that God works in his own time. He truly is right on time, even if while you are going through it feels like you will not make it through. My Dad showed up in my life when I needed a Dad in my life; even though at the time I thought I was grown and did not realize it. He STILL helped me to grow into the woman I am today: strong, affectionate, forgiving, confident, humble. These are the attributes he brought to the table.. and I was able to absorb from the warmth he gave off.
It's not that my Momma did not do a kick-ass job raising 6 kids. She did. But after existing as a child the way that I did, my focus is on making sure I am not an obstacle to relationship between my children and their father.
I can't force it, but I'll never stand in the way. I won't be the cause of my child one day asking the question I can't help but to ask myself, "What if I had had my Dad in my Life as a Child?"
I'll do my part. The rest is up to Dude.