In August 1965 my mother met and married the man I would know as my father; we will call him Robbie. Yes, you read that correctly…..they married three weeks after meeting. At some point during the marriage my mother realized that maybe her haste wasn’t well thought out. But in spite of only dating for three weeks, my parents stayed married for 15 years.
My father was a Marine who did four voluntary tours in Vietnam. Voluntary because my father was an only child, and during that time, the only child did not have to serve in Vietnam. My father however, decided to make the trip to Vietnam because his friends were going. Four friends. Four tours. Neither friend returned alive. But by the grace of God my father did….unharmed…..although my mother said that he came back a different person.
I am unable to speak to the type of husband my father was. I heard stories. I witnessed some incidents. But the type of husband my father was is my mother’s story. I can, however, speak to the type of father he was. But I won’t. I won’t rehash my experiences with my father. I won’t say anything negative about him. I will honor him as my father, the man that gave me life. And in honoring him on this Father’s Day, I will speak about the biggest lesson my father taught me; the power of forgiveness. My father taught me that forgiveness is paramount to my healing. My father taught me that forgiveness is necessary in this life. My father taught me that my ability to forgive is for my growth and happiness. My father taught me that forgiveness would allow me to move on, void of anger, resentment, and the desire to seek revenge. So on this Father’s Day, I thank my father for teaching me about the power of forgiveness.
Shortly after my parents were married, my mother was introduced to another gentleman. We will call him Whitey. There was an instant connection between the two. So much so that Whitey would never forget my mother and vowed if he ever had the opportunity to see her again, he would never let her go. As fate would have it, their paths would cross again more than 15 years later, and true to his word, Whitey did not leave my mother’s side. They dated for seven years and married in February 1988. And would stay together until my mom’s death.
My dad wasn’t perfect. But I’m not here to discuss those imperfections. Instead, I honor today by sharing the biggest lesson my dad would teach me; that unconditional love does exist. I bore witness to the love my dad had for my mother. I watched him love her and serve her during the marriage. I watched my dad selflessly care for my mother when she could no longer care for herself. I watched and gained a renewed hope in “til death do we part.” My dad taught me that every marriage will experience storms. But when two people are committed to their union, together they will be able to weather the storms.
I honor the two men who would hold the positions of father and dad in my life. I thank them for the lessons that they taught me that would ultimately shape me into the woman I am today. And I am grateful to God for a different perspective.
Happy Father’s Day