A few days after I turned eight years old my mom left for a date with a new man and I stood on the stairs of my home hoping I would get a chance to meet him. I ended up receiving a hug that night and a lifetime of memories.
He never really wanted to be my father, nor did I want him to be, but we travelled down a path that was remotely like a father and a daughter. At times we loved being around each other and at other times I loathed his very presence.
He never told me he loved me and it was likely that first hug was simply to impress my mom because I do not recall too many more signs of affection in the years that he was in my life. Yet I knew.
I knew by the way that he helped choose an instrument for me to learn to play in the fifth grade. I knew in my sophomore year when he insisted that I carry a 3-ring binder each day to my classes to then be able to easily report to him my daily work. I knew by the way that he shared his German candies at Christmas time and laughed at my silliness of pre-teenage antics. I knew when I was thirteen and he calmed my mom down enough to refrain from killing me. I knew when we had a huge family fight in the downtown districts of London on our Griswald trip to Europe. I knew every single time he encouraged me to be a writer or an artist. I knew when he showed up at the birth of my son to video tape his first day as well as the following years documenting each child’s life. I knew by the way that he understood my girl and always said she was “just fine”. I knew by the way that his face lit up the last time I saw him.
I just knew.
Although his life ended alone, I hope that he knows that he filled my childhood with so many opportunities to know what it means to be part of family. He was not my father by birth, nor was he really my step-father by choice. Instead, he was a man who simply shared my life for twenty-six years and helped me to experience the subtle acts of love.