Last year I wrote this post about my husband and father. I don’t think I can add much to it since they are both still incredible men and incredible
strengths in my life. If you’d like, please go back and read this post as it still holds as true today as it did a year ago. I would like to take this time
to wish a Happy Father’s Day to both of them and all the other men in my life that have been a guiding strength to me. I have been fortunate to have lots of “father figures” in my life and they have all taught me important lessons.
Unfortunately in the past year or so I have lost several of the best “father figures” I had in my life. I lost my Uncle Bo to cancer last August. He was probably the closest thing to a father I had other than my own father. He was my dad’s youngest brother and he spent almost every weekend of my childhood up at the Old Home Place (or so it seemed). He was always so loving and kind and it seemed like before he and my aunt had kids of their own, we were all sort of like his surrogate kids. He was always doing things for us and with us. He was a lot like my dad in personality so maybe that was why they were not only brothers but great friends.
I also lost my Uncle Ray not too long ago. Uncle Ray was also a guiding force in my younger years. He was married to my dad’s younger sister and he also kind of took us under his wing before my cousin was born. He was also up at my grandparents almost every weekend or so it seemed. He was always riding us around in his dune buggy or sitting out on the porch on the glider or swing with his guitar.
I’ve lost both grandparents many years ago. They were both pillars of strength to me growing up. I was only about 11 when I lost my Grandaddy, my dad’s father. He was probably my biggest “champion” when I was little. I always felt left out and alone. All my cousins were really either
younger or older and I was pretty much a loner. It always seemed that my brothers and sisters all had cousins or each other that were their own age and I really didn’t. None that I was particularly close to anyway (at least at their house). So it seemed my granddaddy always was there for me to tickle me or play games or hide me from my Big Mama when I got in trouble.
I was an adult when I lost my Big Daddy (my mom’s dad). He was such a sweetheart too. He had raised all his kids by himself pretty much after he lost his first wife at a young age. He had promised her that he wouldn’t let another woman raise her kids and he didn’t. Even though he “dated” Big Mama Lynda” for a long time he would not marry her until his last child got married. I never really felt accepted by her so he was always my solace. He was a very kind man. I guess it was sort of a blessing that in his last few years I no longer lived in Virginia so I didn’t have to see first hand his decline into Alzheimers. I would see him once or twice a year when I came home but I didn’t have to see it daily. It’s a terrible disease and hate that others in the family did have to deal with it. I miss him terribly though.
I lost my Uncle Winky (married to my mom’s oldest sister) many many years ago but I still miss him terribly too. He was such a fun and wonderful man to be around. You could just feel the joy in his heart. It was infectious. You couldn’t NOT be happy and be around him. It wasn’t possible! He spread love and joy wherever he went. There was no way you could be around him and not know you were loved. He and my aunt raised three wonderful kids (now adults) and they are just as wonderful to be around. I miss them both tremendously.
I lost my Uncle Burleigh a while back too to cancer. I loved my Uncle Burleigh dearly too. He was my mom’s younger sister’s second husband. My aunt was married previously to a man that I don’t even consider my uncle. He was mean and treated my aunt and her kids terribly. My aunt’s son was special needs and my uncle was so tender and loving to him. I used to spend lots of time at their house during the summers. My cousin was about a year or so younger than me so she and I were pretty close growing up. My uncle had elephantiasis in his right arm and shoulder and side which caused his arm to gather a lot of fluid so it was a lot larger than normal. He was very self conscious of it and wouldn’t shake hands with people with is right hand. In fact, around people he didn’t know well or that he felt uncomfortable around he would kind of hold his arm behind his side. As weird as it sounds, the fact that he didn’t do that around me made me feel special. He made me realize that being “different” wasn’t always a bad thing. He made me more accepting of myself and others.
Even though he wasn’t really a “father figure” to me, the one that has hit me the hardest losing was brother Monte. Monte was 5 years older than me so even though he didn’t do a lot of “fathering” to me he did teach me a lot about what it was to BE a father. Monte was married three times. The first time I really don’t think he’d have ever gotten married if she hadn’t told him that she was pregnant with his child. He did was he thought was the right thing to do and married her. Then after they were married she told him it wasn’t his. He could have left her and disowned the child. He didn’t. He still put his name on her birth certificate as the father even though he (and everyone else at this point) knew he wasn’t her biological father. He never treated as if he wasn’t her father. He always told everyone that he was. It would have been very easy for him to walk away from the situation but he didn’t. He stuck it out and he loved her tremendously.
When he married his last wife, Ana, she had two young girls already. He could not have loved those two anymore if they HAD been his biological
children. And I think the feeling was more than mutual. They loved him as if he were their father. He did the same for their children. He loved their children as his. They were his. He taught me a lot about family. He taught me that you don’t have to be bound by blood to someone to love them unconditionally. He taught me that you don’t have to be “related” to someone to love and care for them and be there for them and give them a chance in this world. He taught me that the only boundaries and limits are the ones we set for ourselves. I miss him so much it hurts.
Since I hadn’t lived near my brother for the majority of our lives and we only saw each other a few times a year, I had NO IDEA that losing him would affect me this profoundly. I had no idea that spending those last few weeks up there with him and his family would teach me so much about love and family and life. I had no idea I would miss him the way that I do. I do think this whole experience has made me a better person. I think being around him and letting his acceptance and love rub off on me has rewarded me in a way I never expected.
So to all the men in my life, past, present and future, Happy Father’s Day to you and yours. I love you all and you all made a profound impact on me in your own way. I hope I can live up to all your examples.