This part of “my story” is one of my favorites and I am ready to share my truth; although, it will most likely cause me some backlash. I’m okay with that.
Just like so many people, I come from a family divided. I was twelve years old when my parents split and I began to navigate a new path in life, living with my hard working and devoted mom. My dad remarried instantly and I can remember only a handful of visits in the years that followed. Each one as uncomfortable as the last. I never felt that I fit in, point blank… and there was never an attempt to change that. I soon became a teenager and stumbled through those years with a huge void as a relationship I longed for crumbled and tension grew so thick that it was more comfortable to avoid the entire situation.
And then, there was you. I was in the 10th grade when you first came along and I remember like yesterday the emotions I felt. Complete jealousy. For a majority of my life it had been just me, my mom and granny. I had always been the center of my mama’s attention and suddenly she was “dating”! I can remember the awkwardness of those first encounters with you, and looking back it is hilarious to me. In 2008 when you two got married, that was it, and I was going to have to accept the fact that I had a “step dad”. That term was so hard for me to process, but little did I know, it would become one of the most cherished roles of my life.
You were always so easy going and humble, as you thrust yourself willingly into living with 2 women and a raging, emotional and dramatic teenage girl. Where there’s women, there’s chaos. But, you took it on without a second thought. Not only because you loved my mom more than imaginable, but also because you loved me and granny too.
Just after you were married you were sent to war and at the time I didn’t realize how devastating this was to mom, and of coarse, none of us could have known how much this would alter our future. You were injured there, on that dusty sovereign soil… fighting for us as we continued to live our routine lives. To this day, I don’t know how my mom did it, but she instantly kicked into survival mode and she stood by you through your recovery while working, taking care of a sick mother and raising a teenage daughter all alone. We struggled in those days.. financially, physically and emotionally. I can remember the night terrors, the onset of PTSD, the side effects of a brain injury and some days it was scary. Even though I never imagined life being normal again, the dust eventually settled and we built a life that has become more beautiful than I ever thought possible.
As you know, I have made many mistakes. But you… you have always been the voice of calm and reasoning in every bad moment I can remember. Just as mothers and daughters do, my mom and I knocked heads on more than one occasion, but instead of standing firmly behind her… you chose to stand with me too. When I cried, you always comforted me. One on One. Just me and you… you took the time to listen, to really hear me and understand. You guided me humbly and with love.
There were times that you were forced to discipline me, but you did it just right. It’s like you knew instinctively how to speak to my soul without speaking the words… but when you did speak, I listened. You taught me all the things that a Dad usually would and you were the one who taught me to be a productive, honest and responsible adult. In my moments of crisis I leaned on you for strength and you have never let me down. The most amazing feeling in the world is knowing without doubt that you never will. I am so thankful for that.
In more recent years our family has grown, as you found out about a daughter and grandchildren that you never knew were yours. You are now the proud grandfather of 4 amazing little boys and the Dad to 2 strong women. The rock of a family that couldn’t live without you. There’s not much left to say because there are no words for what you mean to me but in an attempt I must try: thank you Ody. Thank you for never leaving, thank you for teaching me, for understanding me, for loving me even at my worst but most of all… thank you for being the dad that you didn’t have to be.