What I’ve Learned About: Being Fatherless

Lord knows, bookshop shelves already creak under the weight of misery memoirs and teen novels…I have no desire to add my small pebble to that avalanche of unhappiness. – Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet

As I have read before, we all have our little tragic stories and I’m not here to share mine. I’m here to share what I’ve learned from a particular part of this journey: being fatherless. Maybe some of you can relate to how that feels or what has become of you because of it. I hope that I can give you some insight that I discovered.

us
My siblings and I.

Quick back story: I never knew my biological paternal figure. An illegal immigrant, he left my mother when I was born. He came back briefly and was out the door again when my brother was born. In these eighteen years, I have not heard from him. I never have even seen a picture of him. All I have of him is his signature in my baby book and the mirror. Otherwise, all I ever knew for a father was my step-father who married my mom and had my youngest sister. He was all I knew when it came to daddies but even then, he wasn’t going to win the number one dad award anytime soon. After my parents divorced, he ceased contact with me and solely kept in touch with my sister – his real daughter. After that, my mother found a great man who she eventually married and he became my second step-dad.

john
My dad and my mom.

Today, I refer to my second step-dad as my dad when I talk to strangers. As far as fathers go, he was the only one to be a paternal parent to me through and through. He listened, he cared, he fostered my love for rock, and he helped me grow into what I am today. He taught me how to be logical, to see the calm after the storm, and what a real man looks like. The most important one was that he taught me how to find peace inside of myself. I love him to death and even though it’s been a bumpy road, he still picks up the phone and provides his never-ending wisdom any minute of the day I need it.

Although I consider my step-dad my real dad, I’ve come to learn that there have been many people in my life who were also fathers to me.

trouble
My uncle Trouble, me and my sister.

First, as everyone lovingly calls him, my uncle Trouble. My uncle Trouble has been there since I was a baby. He was the one blowing bubbles with me and letting me do his makeup. He always joked to my boyfriends that he had guns and always threatened me what might happen if I ever started doing drugs. He listened and taunted me. In the end, he always let me know h ow much he cared for me and wanted the best for me. He was there for every accomplish I’ve done and every heart breaking failure I had fallen into. He was the one of the few father figures in my life that was there from the beginning. The most important lesson he taught me that it was okay to laugh and cry at the same time.

keith
My uncle Keith, my cousin, and me.

Second, my uncle Keith. My middle name, KD, was derived from my uncle Keith’s initials. By default, he was going to have a say in my life. He lived further away from me than my uncle Trouble did, but nonetheless he treated me like a daughter. He always told me how beautiful I was and his eyes glittered whenever he saw the projects I was working on. My uncle Keith had this tendency to draw out the most endearing words in what he was saying to you. Like beautiful. He made you feel like you were the diamond in a field of stars. Always encouraging me, he helped me find my inner beauty.

Third, the wonderful teaching trio, Mr G, Mr D, and Mr Hubbard. Mr G helped me grow my writing talent and opened up my eyes to what a happy life could look like when I was at my darkest moments. He was also there when my parents divorced with the most wonderful advice anyone could give. Mr D made me cry. I know that sounds horrible but if he hadn’t challenged the way he did, I wouldn’t be able to do what I can today. The most important lesson he taught me is without pain, there is no gain. Mr Hubbard taught me the power of knowledge and I still have his quotes in journals. All of these wonderful teachers have sparked my love of learning capabilities and influenced how I think today. They taught me what the power of the mind looks like.

mom
My mom, me and my two cousins.

Last but not least, my mom. Of course, she was there since day one and never gave up on me throughout these eighteen years. She had to be both parents for the majority of my life. She was the provider, the caretaker; the firm hand and the soft shoulder. My mom was all of it rolled up into one. I couldn’t even begin the list of lessons she taught me. One of the most important ones she taught me was hard work. To aspire to anything I desired. To become the change I wanted to be in the world. How to forgive and how to be strong. She was the one who my boyfriend asked for permission to date me. She was the one who yelled at me at the sidelines when I was at football to be more aggressive. She is going to be the one who is sitting at graduation that has been there for every step of the way.

What I have learned about being fatherless is that I was never truly fatherless. These people stepped in when I needed them most (even if I didn’t want it) and became the paternal figure I needed. The truth about having no real blood father tied to me is that I’m not really without father. A father could be anyone that looks out for you, loves you, and enjoys you for what you are. A dad is someone that is there when you fall and when you’re first place. A father is the person you can rely on when it seems to late. A father guides you even when you don’t want it.

A dad is someone that sticks around because they care about the potential person you can become.

Right now, I’m a many faceted person that reflects the many influences that were put in my life. Honestly, if my biological father stuck around, I wouldn’t be who I am today. And you know what – that’s just okay with me because who I am today is the person I want to be.

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