I am a by-product of a very young couple madly in love. But as the story goes, sometimes love isn’t enough. My biological father was just nineteen, my mom twenty. I’ve seen pictures of him and heard stories, but growing up never met him. Handsome young man, Randy was his name. He was apparently super funny, amazing at baseball and had a kind heart. My mom had all the qualities to match, but when I was born I guess it was just too much for Randy to handle. Instead of being a father and a husband, he had other plans. My mom gave him an ultimatum, her and I or his friends and all the things that came with partying like drinking, drugs, and other women. Unfortunately, he chose the latter and my strong, fierce, independent, twenty-year-old mom stuck to her guns and said no more. He was allowed to visit me but didn’t, at least not like a father should.
That was also the day Rob became my father, although we both would say he became my father the day we met.
My mom worked her butt off the first two years of my life, struggling as a single mother and put herself through beauty school where she met her best friend LouAnn and well, LouAnn had a brother. Enter this blonde haired, handsome, blue eyed man named Rob. He and my mom eventually started dating and talked of marriage. During that time, my mom caught wind of Randy moving so she asked him if he would give up his parental rights since he wasn’t paying child support or seeing me anyway. By all accounts he put up a little fight but not a big enough one to be triumphant. My mom and Rob got married when I was 3 and a year later my brother was born. That was also the day Rob became my father, although we both would say he became my father the day we met. He was adamant about adopting me and after my mom gave birth to my brother, my dad passed out “it’s a boy” cigars and then “it’s a girl” cigars to all his friends.
My mom is the strongest woman I know and pushed through the hard times.
My memories of having a dad are only of Rob and he was the epitome of one. He was only 24 and took such good care of us. He was loving and kind, not to mention so so funny. He taught me how to fish and how to ride a bike. He taught me about basketball and softball and always made sure my siblings and I were having fun. Whether it was riding on bike trails, going to feed the ducks, boating or fishing, he always made sure we were having a good time. There was no question that Rob, my dad, loved me just as much as he loved my brother and sister. I even sometimes teased that I was his favorite, because that is how he made me feel. Never once did I question why Randy chose not to be my dad, because I had the best one as far as I was concerned. I wasn’t sad or hurt that we weren’t enough for him because our hearts were full. I didn’t have any hard feelings towards him nor did I even blame him for leaving. He was young and dumb. It happens everyday. It’s no excuse but I was 19 once and I understand especially for men that sometimes people just aren’t built to handle things at that age. I didn’t like that my mom had to do it alone the first couple years and I didn’t like that he hurt her, but my mom is the strongest woman I know and pushed through the hard times.
I had enough of hospice and death for the time being.
Fast forward 20 years later, I got a phone call from my mom saying that Randy was dying of cancer and wanted to see me. My heart dropped. That is nothing one can prepare for. At first I was apprehensive and not because I was mad or had any ill feelings toward him but because I had just lost my grandpa, my favorite person in the world, to cancer and watched him suffer and go from 275 lbs to 90 lbs. I had enough of hospice and death for the time being. But then I put myself in his shoes and realized at nineteen his life was just beginning. He wasn’t equipped to handle us nor did he have the tools and I was sure that as he grew and matured he probably did think of me, how could he not? But too much time had passed. I couldn’t imagine how guilty he must have felt, so I put on a brave face and decided to go see him. He was staying at my aunts in Minneapolis as he was in hospice care. My mom came with because I needed her. I don’t think there was a time that I needed her more.
We walked in and saw my beautiful twin aunts (his sisters) and his dad, my Grandpa Gerry whom I spent time with as a young girl. Even though we had kept in touch, it wasn’t a joyous reunion as you can imagine. Everyone had the look of defeat on their faces as they knew they were about to lose their son and brother. Randy was in a different room and I felt like I was going to pass out thinking of what I was about to ensue.
I started sobbing uncontrollably because in that hug I felt an immense sense of loss, not for me but for him. He missed so much.
My mom and I walked in the room hand in hand and there he was. Still handsome, but frail. It was clear to me I came from him as I have his eyes, his nose, and his smile. Identical as a dad and daughter can be really. He had a smile on his face as big as Texas and as if it was the most natural thing in the world, I walked right over to him and hugged him for a very very long time. I started sobbing uncontrollably because in that hug I felt an immense sense of loss, not for me but for him. He missed so much. I was his only child and I felt sorry for him. I felt sorry that he didn’t know me. After we parted hugs he told me how beautiful I was and how when he got better we could hang out and take our dogs for walks around Minnehaha Falls. I don’t know if he believed that but I knew it was never going to happen. He told me to thank my dad for him. That he and my mom did an amazing job raising me and then we left.
He died two weeks later. I went to his wake and that’s when I saw all these pics of him holding me as a baby with the biggest smile on his face, a kid-holding-a kid really. It was there I knew how much he loved me. It was written all over his face. I hope I gave him some closure before he passed, I went in hoping to do that for him but gained so much more as I don’t have to leave that chapter out anymore.
I’m writing this in hopes that someone will read it and reach out to someone they love that they have lost touch with. I realize everyone doesn’t have a Rob, a man who deserves more respect than I can give, but whether it be your dad, mom, sibling, child, friend, grandparent, child’s other parent, whoever, I encourage you to make the first move, they will be happy you did; trust me, they are probably waiting for you. It was too late for Randy and I but it doesn’t have to be too late for you.