Once upon a time, there was a man who was a single dad (of one) who fell in love with a woman who had 3 kids. This is just a short vignette to tell you about him and another dad. The first dad is known to you as Handsome Husband. The other is our older son, Alec, sometimes known as Snads.
These two men shared so much in common. They are proof positive that DNA actually can have little to do with, well, anything. Technically, they had a step relationship. Lots of people didn’t know that about Handsome Husband’s kids. As far as he was concerned, my 3 were merely added to his 1 from his first marriage and all 4 of them were his. He never spoke differently of them and, even at his memorial service last September, there were those who were surprised to find that out.
When Handsome Husband and I got married, he readily took my kids under his care. Emotionally, financially, spiritually-in every way he became their dad. He’d tell me that he’d always wanted a big family; he just never figured getting it the way that he did. My ex chose not to be in his kids’ lives. Early on, after Handsome Husband and I married, our daughter Rachael came to me, an emissary for her brothers, and, at age 6, asked me what they should call this new man in their lives? Dad? Chuck? What did I think? My response was you know what, Rachael? You and your brothers can choose because all that matters is that you have as many people in your life to love you as possible. What you call them isn’t important.
They chose to call him dad. He was their dad. He had the toughest time with our older son, Alec. The usual growing up stuff but Handsome Husband used to get so frustrated because he’d tell me that he’s the one most like me why is it so hard with him? I could have told him that it’s exactly because he’s so much like you and just be patient and it will be okay.
Issues between Handsome Husband and his son Alec smoothed out years before his death. Respect was strong between them. During his dad’s hospice time, Alec spent a grueling 6 hours coaching him in taking one breath and then another when his breathing became completely compromised. Alec brought his girlfriend to California and Handsome Husband was able to feel his grand-daughter -to-be move in the womb of her mother. She was born two months after he died.
Upon his death, I saw our son Alec grow up overnight. He’s had to struggle to maintain his right to be a dad, same as his dad had to struggle after his divorce. Single dad parenting, when the dad really wants to be a dad, isn’t always an easy thing. But Alec has his dad’s determination to not just be a babysitter but to truly be an involved parent. He’s got a good example in front of him.
This is Alec’s first Father’s day. He’s a single dad who revels in his daughter’s growth and who is the dad to her that his dad was to him. His love for her is as deep as the love he learned from his dad. He will teach his daughter to be of service to others. He will teach her to expand her mind and her horizons and not be stopped by obstacles in her path. He will teach her joy in family and he will tell her stories of his own dad, a man who opened his heart to 3 kids not of his blood and who never stopped loving them. She’ll probably roll her eyes at times, as Alec did when his dad told stories, but someday she’ll treasure those stories, as Alec does now.
Two men of two generations. One made such a difference in the lives of his 4 kids. The other is making a difference in the life of his one daughter.
Father’s day now connects them even more strongly. I miss my husband. They miss their dad.