Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

So after 18 years of not knowing him, I met my father when I was 23. He called me one day while I was working and in a tone reminiscent of Star Wars, he said, "Hello Jim. This is your Father."

I met him shortly after that call and it turns out he was living six miles from where I grew up - in the same school district and a stones throw from my high school. All types of excuses were thrown at me for why there was never any contact, especially being so geographically close.

Then we spent a year getting to know one another. He would crack open a can of Budweiser when I would be putting on my running shoes early in the morning. He would tell me about all of the women he was sleeping with - at work, at the beach, in the neighborhood and then we would go to dinner with his wife - and then once he was (again) all liquored up, he would tell me the only women he ever really loved was my Mother.

After seeing the typical trend of drinking, grandiose plans, those plans falling thru and then depression leading to more drinking, I decided my life was better off without him in it. As tough as it was growing up without that father figure during those formative years, I had struggled and been somewhat successful on my own - and with the help of some dear friends.

The point that my feelings really solidified was on a nice night in the spring. My sister was in the hospital. They found and removed a cyst on one of her fallopian tubes. After visiting hours were over, I called him and told him that my side of the family was gone so if he wanted to call, he didn't have to worry about speaking to someone he didn't care to speak with. His response..."She's young. She'll get over it." At this point, I told him my sister had been seeing someone for a couple years and it was a serious relationship. This would also cut her chances of child-bearing in half - and besides, even if she's young and will phsyically recover, this could scar her femininity for the rest of her life. His response..."Did you see that Flyers game last night?" Our conversation and our relationship ended very soon after that.

I always said that if I ever had the chance to have kids, that I would be a better Father to them than he had been to me. Which in all reality, would have been extremely easy. For better or for worse, that opportunity has never been pursued nor has it ever been presented to me. My dogs, Winston, Kiana and Jeb have become my kids as so often is the case in households like mine - and I love and spoil each of them, especially my baby Winston.

And so, on this Father's Day, I salute all of the Dads out there. Nurture your kids. Let them grow. Pick them up when they take those first steps and stumble and definitely be there when they finally spread their wings and fly. Trust me - they'll appreciate it.