In light of it being Father’s Day and all, I felt impelled to highlight my unique situation and talk about the two men whom I call Dad and Daddy. Not a lot of people understand my relationship and connection with my two Dads, but, that’s okay. I don’t expect anyone or everyone to understand. This is my life and I feel lucky to have two men leading me in their own very unique ways.
I distinctly remember the reactions of people discovering that I had two fathers; that look of confusion. I referenced my biological father as “Daddy” and my step-father as “Dad” to not confuse my Mother when I spoke of either. I was about three or four when I came up with this clever idea. However, in my world, everyone had two fathers and maybe others had their own special way of referencing them.
Alright, let’s go over a little background. In the summer of 1987, my mother and biological father decided to pack up their lives and move to Atlanta, in search of a better life. And a better life is what they found. Well, at least for one of them. They moved to Atlanta with no network of friends, no family, nothing. Just one distant cousin. About 2 months after settling into their smoldering hot new digs, mom discovered that there was a little bun in the oven. This was something she wanted for years. She couldn’t wait to be a mother and after seven years of marriage, she felt that it was time. Daddy wasn’t on board, but what was he going to do at that point. She prayed that it would be a girl because she wanted a best friend, a shopping buddy, a sidekick. In January of 1988, a bouncing, chunky baby girl was born, ME! I know that I was a great joy for my parents, despite their tough patch of finances and unhappiness. At a year old, the marriage had completely fallen apart and my Daddy left Atlanta and returned to the family farm in the midwest. I know it broke his heart to leave me, but I can’t blame him for returning to what he knew best, the country, the farm, his home.
Daddy is a farmer, a mechanic, a carpenter, a simple man with very simple expectations from life. It doesn’t take much to make him happy and he finds solace living by himself in his very simple house in the country. He doesn’t own a cell phone and he doesn’t understand a lot about the fast-pace of life. That’s actually one of the greatest things about him. He wasn’t designed to have materialistic things, running the rat-race.
Next chapter. This is where my Dad came into the picture. My Dad met me and my mother before I could confidently walk without a cute little wobble. I blame it on my Michelin Man shaped limbs creating instability. Thanks, Mom! I was fed well, that’s for sure. Dad was previously married and had three children of his own whom he adored. He told himself for years (seven years to be exact) that he wanted to find a woman who already had a child of her own because he didn’t want to have more babies of his own. Little did he know of what was in store for him. Okay, readers, how often have you heard that!? A man searching for a relationship with a woman who already had a child? This is the first sign that he was going to be the greatest impact on our lives. Mom said it didn’t take long for me to have Dad wrapped around my chunky little finger. In not so many words, he swept us off our feet. Dad was a workaholic and insisted on providing for us and creating the life he had always dreamt of and make mom the happiest woman in the world. We got a house in the suburbs (an undeveloped suburb of Atlanta at the time). This is where we called home for the next fifteen years of our lives.
I really think I had a pretty incredible childhood. I mostly lived in the house with my Mom since my Dad worked out of town making his living building golf courses up the eastern part of the country. He would only be home during the “off season” for about 6-8 weeks, per year. Mom and I would travel to visit him a few times peppered along the remaining 45ish weeks of the year during the “on season.” Don’t worry, I’m going to bring Daddy back into the picture now. Daddy would drive 10 hours in one direction to pick me up in the summers and drive back to the family for his two week court-ordered visitation. Trips and summer time with Daddy was always an adventure when I was young. He was goofy, unpredictable, funny, unorganized and entertaining. It was like a controlled chaos of unexpected outcomes- in good ways, but also some not so good ways. We would stop at nearby attractions along the highways very spontaneously. We would see a sign that said “Lost Sea” and we decided immediately that we would take the detour and have some adventure. As a young child, it was parallel to my live-in-the-moment mentality.
I had a balance of family culture since I was very young. There was always great food and late night dancing parties for New Years and every other holiday with my Dad’s family (Colombians know how to throw good parties, trust me) as well as country serenity adventures with my Mom and Daddy’s family. It was honestly such a well-versed upbringing that molded me into the woman I am today. It was nothing short of perfect.
As I grew up, and due to some tough experiences, I began to become a little more refined, impatient, irritable and less understanding of why my Daddy is the way that he is. Yeah, it was definitely during my rocky and emotional teenage years. My two weeks in the summer with Daddy turned into a few days while Mom and I were visiting the family, whenever we made the long drive. However, I believe that I grew up with the perfect balance of serenity and city-life. Today, this helps me appreciate life and understanding the necessary balances.
Now, more about Dad. How are you doing on the transition between Daddy and Dad? Ya following? I seriously love both of my fathers in their own special ways, trust me. But, there is something very unique about my Dad. He is the most selfless, hard-working, compassionate, clever, spiritual being you could ever meet. Within a few seconds of meeting him, you can feel the energy that he carries. You feel safe, comfortable and an assurance that he has your best interest at heart- family or stranger. I have to say that he is the reason why I am who I am today. We love others through deep trenches over and over and over because, well, we love hard. We work to constantly find ways to grow and improve ourselves because we have an understanding that learning doesn’t stop. We work to become the absolute best that we can be. He inspires me to read because reading is knowledge waiting to be obtained. He pushed me to go to college, to be the best in my classes, to strive for the greatest achievements in life. And guess what, I did! And I kicked some serious ass. Today, I’m the same workaholic that he is. I am also the one who feels the need to help others just as he does. I don’t half-ass anything. I perfect my work and my life to best of my abilities. I hold myself to a very high standard (that one took a little longer to grasp) and I don’t settle for anything less than the possibility of the best. We value life and are cognizant of the fact that our time is limited. We also know that sometimes life throws curveballs that we cannot prepare ourselves for and sometimes we are not meant to understand why things turn out the way that they do. We just have to be okay with it, whatever it ends of being. Because of him, I think deeply about life and I know that I have a force of the Universe within that leads me. I thank him for that.
Today, my Dad and Mom are no longer together. They divorced after about seventeen years of marriage. It broke me as a seventeen year-old, but my relationship with my Dad only grew stronger. He continued to inspire me and provide the BEST emotional support a father could give his teenage daughter. He was and is my rock. I cannot imagine life and reality without him.
My entire life has been a complicated journey (trust me, I didn’t write about it all here). I have two fathers whom I love dearly. They have influenced me in their own unique ways to provide perspective, appreciation and love. I am so grateful for the fate of these two men being in my life. They inspire me. And they are both just as equally my fathers- doesn’t matter that only one of them help create me, physically. Daddy made me, but Dad molded me. Our bonds are undeniable.
I love you both, forever and eternally.