I grew up without a father.
I was the child of divorce, and beyond a few dreamlike seconds of toddler memories, had no experience of my father until my own son was a toddler. I was lucky to have come to know even a bit of him - he was, by all accounts (including those of my brother, who knew him better, and my mother, who always maintained a bit of love for him) a lovely, talented, bright and charismatic man. Nonetheless, my experience of the man was as an adult, with an adult's apprehension of another adult's frailties.
I grew up with my grandfather. He, too, was talented, bright, and charismatic, and I loved him a great deal when I was a little girl. But life with him grew steadily more difficult for many reasons. I remember the Grandad of my childhood to avoid unhappy memories.
The father I love is not my father. He's the father of my - our - son.
He's the man who cared for that son pretty much single-handed after the first three months of the latter's birth. I was not stay-at-home mom material. Andy's dad was. He was patient, loving, long-suffering, kind, willing to swing a laughing baby by the ankles to make him fly, to carry him about on his shoulders, to sing with him, to teach him rude words, to care for him when he was sick, to comfort him after nightmares, to draw pictures for him, to teach little fingers to master guitar strings, to show a growing boy that it was alright to fear, to cry, to giggle, to sing, to dance, to be as brave as possible, to be kinder than the next person, to rock and roll ....
Of course he made mistakes (but far fewer than he thinks even now.) Of course he stumbled (but not nearly as much as he thinks, even now.)
Of the many blessings I've gained since I met Bob, learning what a father is by watching him be the best one I ever knew is perhaps one of the greatest.
Happy Father's Day, Robert Jackson Berlien.
Bob and Andy, Museum of Science and Industry, 2010
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