Easy Advice for a Tough Situation

For my dad.

I know that today is normally question day, but I wanted to post about something that has been on my mind since I’ve started this blog.

I write about my experiences with my kids, and being a single dad, all while completely ignoring my past with my father.

This man is my “real” dad.

This man Died on May 9, 2011.

I never knew him. I was 1 years old when my mom left him. From the stories I’ve been told, he wasn’t the nicest man when I was a child. Some things went on, and my mother decided that she would be better off with out him.

That was her choice. And even to this day I completely respect her decision.

I went a large part of my life not knowing who my father was. I knew a name… but that was it. We didn’t have facebook, or myspace, or the internet for that matter when I was a child.

I grew up in a middle class family that loved me. My mom married a man that I always knew wasn’t my “real dad.” But he was still dad. He stepped up and became that father figure that I needed in my life. He eventually adopted me, and I even took his last name.

Growing up with a step dad wasn’t always the easiest. We didn’t always see eye to eye, but who does with their parents. After my brother and sister were born, I always felt they were favored over me. Looking back, maybe at times, but for the most part, we were raised the same, and we all became very good people.

Not seeing eye to eye, and feeling favoritism caused me to act up. I got into my teens, and turned into a little shit. My mom acted as the middle person between me and my step dad, which looking back was completely unfair to her, and mom if your reading this.. I love you and I’m sorry.

During the years that I started rebelling, I knew that I had a dad out there somewhere. Fights with myself and my step dad would lead to me telling him that he wasn’t my father, things thrown, wrestling matches, and all out hatred.

I remember telling my mom that I didn’t want my step dad in my life, and that I would run away…. ( because that was the answer to everything)

I told her I wanted to find my real dad, and I was moving out.

I got home from school one day, and I was in my typical angry teenager mood. In fact. I was grounded because I was talking back to my step dad, and not listening to my mom.
I went straight to my room, and about 20 minutes after being in there my mom yelled down at me. ” Jay!! Phone!!”

I yelled back “I thought I was grounded” She replied “just come answer the phone”

So I made my way up stairs and said “hello”

The person on the other end of that phone was about to change my life.

It was my “real dad”

We chatted for about 20 minutes, his brother (my uncle) was with him, and I chatted with both. He told me what city he lived in, and that if i’m ever in the city to let him know. He gave me his phone number, and we hung up.

After getting off the phone with my dad, I turned to my mom. She was listening intently. She didn’t want me to get hurt, but she knew I needed this.

To me.. finally.. He was real. He wasn’t just a name.

I asked my mom how he got our number, and she had told me that she was reached out to his mom, and got him to call us.

I’m not sure what happened that day… the only way I can describe it was that I felt … Verified.

Going forward after that day, my life had meaning. I was finally someone with a real dad. I was ecstatic. It changed me.

I was 15 years old at the time. I couldn’t wait for summer to come. I was going to the city, and I was going to call my dad and I was finally going to have a relationship with this man.

Summer came, and I had made arrangements to stay with family in the city for the summer. They knew very well that I was doing this to meet my dad.

When I finally got to the city, I remember sitting with my cousin in her bedroom, and she suggested that we just rib off the band aid and call this guy. She would even come with me to meet him for the first time.

I hadn’t talked to my dad since he called a few months back, but I had the phone number. We called. He answered after a couple of rings. I said it was Jay calling. He didn’t sound super happy like I thought he would, but he said hello and we had struck up a conversation. I told him that I would like to get together and that I could come see him any time. He told me that ” he was just heading out of town to see my grandparents, but that I could come with him if I wanted”

I was pumped.. of course I would go. He told me he would pick me up in 30 minutes and we would head out. I told him that I was excited to see him and that I’d see him soon.

I hung up the phone and ran to the shower. I was so fricking excited. .. but that quickly came to an end. I had a thought…….. How did he know where I was? How was he going to pick me up if he didn’t know where I was staying?

I got out of the shower and shared my concerns with my cousin. We called him back.. Answering machine.

I called at least a dozen times. .. No answer.

He never came.

After that I lost all respect for this man. I did however go to his place of residence a few times, but he never answered.

That was his chance and he blew it. That changed the way I acted at home.

When I moved back home at the end of summer, I realized something. The one person that has been there for me all my life… the one guy that has been a constant in my life since I was 3 years old was my step dad.

There was a new found respect for this guy. And although there were still rocky times, I learned to love him as though he was my “real dad.”

I finished high school, moved out, started to try and figure out who I was going to be, what I was going to do with my life. Always in the back of my mind that I had a dad out there somewhere.

I didn’t put much thought into him after that. It wasn’t until Trudy and I had our first child that I really started to think about my real dad once again. Having a child really opens up your eyes, and all I could think about was that I wanted to be the father that my real dad wasn’t.

I also wanted to know who he was.

2011… Facebook had been out for a few years, and I tried to hold of being part of the world for as long as I could. Finally I caved, and I got facebook.

One of the first thing I did on facebook, was try and look up my real dad. Maybe I had brothers and sisters… maybe not. Maybe he wasn’t even on there.
After searching obits with the same last name, I had learned my grandfather had passed. In the obit, my father and his family were listed. Immediately I started looking up the children on facebook. I finally found a girl named Jennifer. I made a fake facebook account and messaged Jennifer. I told her that I was actually a friend of a guy that is looking for is bio dad, and that he doesn’t know anything about computers, so I was helping him out.

She confirmed what I already knew. She was my dads daughter… step daughter. She lined it up , and had my bio dad message me.

Knowing that the facebook message from my bio dad was coming, I waited by the computer for hours. Finally it came.

He talked about how sorry he was that he wasn’t in my life. He regretted not being there for me. He made up a story about the weekend that he was going to come and get me, and said he was actually winning some award and couldn’t bring me. (turned out to be a lie which he eventually admitted to)

We chatted on facebook for at least a month. He would call and talk to Trudy, but I wouldn’t talk. I couldn’t. There was just to much hurt.

He finally called me out on it one day. Asked why I wouldn’t talk on the phone with him. That I was the one that found him.

I told him that I’m sorry I cant just open up and be completely fine with everything that has happened in the past. That there was a lot of years I needed him, and he was never there. That even a phone call every once in a while would have been nice.

He replied with “that’s all you needed to say, I understand and will leave you alone. Just know that I am proud of you, and who you have became. You have done an amazing job with your kids and again i’m sorry.”

I didnt reply to that.

May 6th, 2011- I got a message from my dad and he said that he has liver cancer, and that he was happy that he got to know me, and see pictures of my kids. He didn’t want anything from me, but just wanted me to know.

May 8th- I replied “omg.. are you ok? Is there anything I can do? I can come and maybe they can do a transplant or something ( I had no idea.. I just wanted to help)

May 9th- He told me that there was nothing I could do, again, that he was happy he got to talk to me, and get to know me and my family.

That same day I replied ” Lets forget the past. I forgive you for everything that has happened, just get better so I can bring my kids to see you this summer”

No reply.

May 11th- I was scrolling through Facebook, and seen my step sister Jennifer had posted a message. “RIP to the sweetest man I have ever known, I love you daddy”

Instantly I message her. She informed me he passed away this morning.

I instantly break down and cry. I didn’t know this man.. but I loved him. Trudy was at work when I told her, she came home and comforted me.

I kept thinking… did he ever see my email forgiving him?

Its been 8 years since my dad died. Its been 8 years of trying to figure out who I am, and who my family is. 8 years of wondering if he got my message that day.

As I sit here thinking about him.. I need to close that chapter in my life, I need to forget about the past, and remember him.

This letter is to my dad.

Dad,

Even though you have never known it, you were larger than life to me. You have and will always be a rock for me to lean on. For alot of years I knew you were out there, and I knew that even though you never reached out, you thought of me. I had a lot of help in becoming the man I am today. My step dad did an amazing job raising me, and showing me work ethic, and how to be a good person. Sometimes I wonder if you not being in my life also helped me become the dad I am today. I didn’t want to be like you… but I still loved you for who you were.
There’s been many many days that I have fought with who I am. Growing up as a child not knowing his dad, and getting bullied because of it. Or because I looked different. Many nights I leaned on you. I would lay in my bed face down talking to you. Begging for your guidance.
I forgive you for not being in my life. In a way with you not being around, I seen you as this entity that could help me in any way…. I just needed to ask.

I spent the better part of my life without you in it. I am so unbelievably grateful that even for a month, we got to message each other. There’s a reason we found each other before you left us. It was supposed to happen.

I promise you that I will live my life to the fullest. I promise you that I will never ever forget you. My kids will know who you were, and the impact that you had on my life.

One day when I get called home, I hope and I pray that you will be there waiting for me.
I love you.

Jay.

thebarkingdad@gmail.com

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