Today is his birthday.
When I met my husband I was just 21 years old. I was not looking for a husband. I was young and having fun. So when I met him one night at a dance club, I didn’t think much of it. We danced. We talked. I thought he was a nice guy, but my heart didn’t do anything crazy. However, before I left the club that night, we exchanged numbers.
And so he called the very next day.
We met for lunch a few days later. I didn’t even let him pick me up but instead suggested we meet at the restaurant. I was guarded, to say the least. Surprisingly, our lunch lasted four hours. We talked, talked, talked, talked. When it was time to say good-bye, he asked if he could see me again sometime. And I said yes.
And so he called the very next day.
We met again for lunch exactly a week later. Again, I drove myself there. This lunch lasted another four hours. We talked, talked, talked, talked — I learned he had a 2-month old son – and we talked, talked, talked some more. On the drive home after that lunch I thought, Why did I have to meet him now? I’m not ready to find THE ONE now — I’m only 21 years old! But I knew. I knew after that second lunch that he was THE ONE. I actually had a hunch during our first lunch, but the second one decided it for me.
The thing that impressed me the most during that second lunch was that he flat out told me that his son is the most important thing he has going on in his life, that being a devoted and involved father was his first priority, and if I had any kind of doubts or reservations about that then we should just stop dating right now. He was pretty blunt about it, and I could tell he meant what he said. After hearing that, I thought Okay…this is a good guy. This is the kind of father that I would want for my kids. This is the kind of father who knows his priorities.
This is the kind of father that I never had.
My own father had a drug and alcohol problem, and for most of my childhood he was in and out of jail for such things as drug possession, DUI’s, and petty crimes. He’d be away for months, sometimes years at a time, so my time with him was never lengthy. When he was home, he often forgot to pick me up from school, or he’d say he was going to show up for a school performance but never would, and he would break promises to me often. I learned at a very young age that I could not depend on my father.
But besides all that, I remember him as a fun and loving person. He played with me. He tucked me in at night and told me stories. He would tenderly wash, dry, and brush my long hair. Unfortunately, he also took me to drug houses, drove stoned with me in the car, and hawked all of our expensive things to pay for his drug habit. Of course as a young child, I wasn’t aware of all that bad stuff. But my mother was, and that always lead to big fights and a very tense household. I used to put my pillow over my head at night to muffle the sounds of their screaming. I don’t have any memory of my parents cuddling together or hugging or even talking kindly to each other. I only remember fighting. My mother was always “mad” at him, and I didn’t understand why. In my young eyes, my father was always a happy guy. He was always fun. So why was she always so mad at him?
I remember one day he was in the bathroom and my mom was pounding on the door, yelling for him to get out. She was pounding and trying to force the door open, but he was holding it shut. I stood in the hallway right next to the bathroom, wondering what all the fuss was about. Why couldn’t she just let him use the potty in private? What was the big deal? When my mother finally forced the door open, I could see my father sitting on the toilet with a big rubber band around his arm and a needle in his other hand.
Shortly after that incident she divorced him. I was about seven, maybe eight years old by that time. The divorce was a good thing because after that my life was calm. It was peaceful. The fear and anxiety that I often felt in the pit of my stomach was gone. I remember that being such a relief to me. My mom provided everything for me and my sister — a safe neighborhood, a beautiful house, a big yard to play in, a strong faith foundation, family gatherings, wonderful holiday traditions, and most importantly love and the feeling of being safe and cared for. I felt secure. In fact, I can honestly say that there is nothing that I lacked from my childhood. I had everything…except a father.
Growing up without a father isn’t the best thing for a kid. Fathers are very important! But in my opinion it’s better to not have a father around…than to have the wrong kind of father around.
So while I was dating Rich, I soon realized that he was the exact opposite of my father. I could tell that he’d never put anything before his family. He was a hard worker and a devoted father. He was a strong personality; didn’t use drugs, wasn’t an alcoholic. These things were important to me. I wanted my kids to have what I never had – a father they could depend on.
That’s exactly what they got.
And today is his birthday.
Happy Birthday, Babe.
We all love you so much!
Wow, there’s a lot of candles on that cake!
Today I’m linking up with Things I Can’t Say: Pour Your Heart Out