I blame my Mother for so many things, but some are really my Daddy’s fault. He has taught me so many things since he joined the family. I smile every day when I think how blessed I am that he chose my mother, my sisters, and me. I have learned the following, and more, from this wonderful man.
For the record: After my biological father left, my mother was single for a goodly time. My then-not-my-Daddy was dating my mother when my three sisters and I held a meeting about him (mind you, our ages were 8, 6, 5, and 4… I am the eldest). We decided to ask him if he would be our Daddy. He didn’t answer right away, and told our Mamma what we asked. Well, shortly thereafter, they were engaged. It has been a long road since, but he has been there the whole time. He loved us so much that he legally adopted us. He has also done everything in his power to remind my mother, always, how wonderful, beautiful, kind, caring, and amazing she is.
He really showed me how strong a parent-child relationship can be, despite not being a blood relation. He entered our family with open arms. He even does the Daddy things of lecturing us when we make poor choices, wiping our tears when we cry, hugging us when we need it, and being there no matter what. He walked me down the aisle, cried at my wedding, and is eagerly awaiting grandchildren from my husband and me. Your chosen family is just as important and close as your birth family, sometimes closer.
He showed my how important it is to be fully committed to your family, and to take relationships seriously. People’s hearts are not games. People who enter your family are your family. There is no such thing as discounting a child’s siblings just because they don’t share the same blood. Siblings are siblings, and family is family. My mother’s family is the same way: my auntie is till my auntie despite my uncle having crossed over to the heavens.
He has been very patient with my as I learn my own path. He took me to ice-cream as a child when he had to discuss something difficult: bad grades, poor choices, concerns about my then-boyfriend, etc. The ice cream did soften the blow, but I think it was more to have an important conversation just the two of us… away from other people’s ears, and in a more confidential manner. The strangers at Baskin Robbins didn’t count. I learned from these encounters that private matters should be discussed privately, with as few people involved as possible. It is important to make sure the person feels safe and comfortable when discussing difficult things.
He was also very patient in my “learning years,” i.e. 11 to… well… I am still in the midst of them, aren’t I? He dealt with my impossible know-everything-teens, my early-college my-life-is-my-own self, and now he puts up with me as I blaze my own trail forward. When I have children, I will have to take that deep breath that he took… and he is going to laugh at me as I go through all the steps of parenthood. At least, human-child parenthood. I have my two cats, but I hear that doesn’t count.
He showed me that a man is a man, and what he does is masculine. My amazing Daddy can cook, clean, sew, garden, do laundry, iron, bead, make jewelry, braid hair, have his toenails painted by his daughters. I don’t know very many dads who can/will do that. He taught me how important it is, whether you are male or female, to be able to do these things and take care of yourself.
He knows hit song lyrics before I have heard them, he tells funny stories. He makes sure I feel included and loved in any situation. He supports my in my endeavors (even if he thinks they are silly). He tells me what he thinks, and is honest with me. He colors with me. He never wished I was a son, or treated me like I can’t do things because I am female. He always expected the best from me, and acted like I single-handedly made the sun come up over the horizon whenever I accomplished something. He always believed in me. I hope someday to be a parent like him.
He taught my that knowing my roots and culture is very important. He encouraged Native American dance lessons, learning the language (which I have failed at), learning the ceremonies, and connecting with the community. He even did the sewing and beadwork for my Regalia. It has enriched my life so much.
And more! He is always teaching me new things and always helping me become a better person.
Thank you, Daddy. For all you have taught me.
It is your fault.