Monday, June 11, 2012

My Second Dad

With Father's Day coming up, there is not a more perfect time to reflect on my Heavenly Father, my biological father, the father of my own children, as well as the second father in my life.  The second father in my life has been Howard, my step-dad.

Growing up, I didn't know what it was like to have a dad who came home every night, or parents who modeled good communication skills with one another.  My parents were divorced.  Their relationship with each other was, without a doubt, one in which they loved each other, but sometimes love is not always healthy.  It's like the song "Wild Horses" by Garth Brooks when he says, "Before I hurt her more than she loves me."  Everyone has a breaking point.

Kissing.  See, I have proof!
So, Howard entered into our lives.  A friend of my mother's was how he was introduced to me.  A man who later became my step-dad when he and my mom eloped when I was about 13 years old.  Who marries a woman with two teenage kids?  Well, it was a man who loved my mom and saw, hopefully, the potential in us kids to become productive human beings.  I had never seen my mom happier.  She beamed.  They smooched constantly which was totally gross to this teenager at the time.  On the day that my mom returned and told me they had eloped, we made an agreement.  She was the parent, and she would be the one to parent me.
Well, I can tell you.  This is one of those instances where they say, "Hindsight is 20/20."  Being in my teenage years, it didn't take me long to see that Howard would have been the softy parent and let me do lots of things my mom would absolutely not let me do.  Don't get me wrong.  My mom was an incredible parent, and I was a pretty good, obedient kid.  However, there were many times I asked him to talk to her to see if I could get some extra privilege or get her to lighten up on some discipline.  Later curfews.  Open lunch at school.  Driving long distances.  It was always the same.  He would come back and say, "Nope, she won't budge."  I should have negotiated that joint parenting deal a little better!

One thing Howard and I loved to do was to watch action movies together.  I was a teenager and questionably old enough to watch what we watched, but we loved it.  Terminator.  Predator.  Rambo: First Blood.  I still remember the scene at the end of the movie Rambo where Sylvester Stallone says in his characteristic, mumbly speech which you can hardly understand, "They drew first blood."  You can feel his despair and exhaustion as he sits there covered in dried blood.  Classic cinema, I'm telling ya!

Howard showed me that you can have someone come into your life and love you for who you are. He came home every night. He helped me if I ever needed help. He provided for our family along with my mother.  He was the one who taught me how to drive. However, he taught me part of the time to drive my mom's car which had a stick shift and began to laugh hysterically when I would stall out in first. All I am saying is that there was a lot of laughter in the car that day. Stick shift cars are still not my gift to this day.

Howard, 2009
About 10 years before my mother married Howard, my brother made a plate for my mother for Mother's Day.  This was back in the early 70's.  Back then, there was a process you could do to make plates for special occasions.  You would color a round piece of paper however you wanted, and the school would send it off.  Magically, a plastic plate would come back with your drawing displayed on the front.  Well, my brother gave the plate he had created to my mother for Mother's Day.  It had two men drawn on the plate with the words Happy Mother's Day written around the plate edge.  One man had a full head of black hair with a black mustache.  He was the tallest of the two men.  This man was obviously my dad.  But who was this other man?  The second man had on a gray suit, a bald head, and glasses.  When my mother asked my brother who the second man was my brother said, "I don't know.  I just drew him." 

Years later, after her marriage to Howard, she was shocked when she pulled the plate out of the cabinet and looked at it for the first time in years.  It was most definitely a picture of my dad and Howard drawn about 10 years before she and Howard ever married.  It was fated, if you want to call it that.  Destined to be.  Written in the stars.  Even my dad 2 weeks before he died said he couldn't have imagined choosing anyone better for my mom than Howard.  Some dads you get biologically, and some dads you get by marriage.  I consider myself very blessed to have had both.

Happy Father's Day, Howard.  I love you!

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