Daddy. Dad. Father. Pop. Many names for one guy. Whatever you call him, the man who is half of the reason you are here certainly influenced your life in some way. For many, this was in a good way, for others, not so much. Every man has the ability to father a child, but it takes a lot of love and effort to be a Dad TO that child.

I was fortunate to have a second chance at having a father in my life.

The man who played a part in my existence, I barely knew. Without going into a lot of familial dirty laundry, he was in mine and my sister’s life until I was four. He was not a good man and after my mother divorced him, for a period of time, he hurt several people in my family, both emotionally and one time, physically.

Granted, I was young and so many of these stories I have heard from the adults that went through this. But I have a very powerful memory that sticks with me even today of when he and several members of his family actually kidnapped my sister and I. It was for a brief period of time and he was upset because he wanted us to spend time with him over Easter and it wasn’t his time to have us.

So, he took several of his family members and drove to where my mom was living and took my sister and I from her. I remember seeing my mom in tears, screaming and I was scared. I couldn’t have been much older than four or five. I was yelling for my mommy and I put my hand out the window. This man’s father, my “grandfather” if you will, rolled the window up and pinched a finger of mine before I pulled it away.

This man who married my mother was, simply put, not a good man.

My mother met another man not long after the divorce. He was a young man in the Air Force who was visiting someone he knew and met my mother. He returned the next time to visit his friend and my mom. The time after that he returned to visit my mom.

To say that this man was smitten with my mother is an absolute understatement. I have truly never met a man so in love with a woman as the man I call Dad today, is with my mom.

When he asked her to marry him, my mother was obviously hesitant. She’d just gotten through a bad divorce. What if this one didn’t work out either? She had two kids to take care of and was not sure she could put them through that again.

This man came up with an idea. He asked my mom and us two kids to travel with him to Florida where he was to be stationed. If we got there and she did not want to marry him, he would pay for her to go back to South Dakota. My mom agreed.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

This man, my Dad, took two kids who were not his own, and a woman whom he adored and he made them his family. Along the way, we had another kid enter our life, my second sister. The three of us were always treated the same by this man. I never thought of her as my “half-sister”, she was my sister. And after a period of adjustment by the young boy that I was, I soon thought of him as “Daddy” and then finally “Dad”. And at some point, he made it official and formally adopted my other sister and I and I carry his surname to this day.

My mom and dad have been together for more than forty years now.

This man is, simply put, a great person and a great father.

He has been a father to me and my sisters and plays an important role as the grandfather of mine and their children. He is called “Grump” by the grand-kids, named so by my oldest, when she had a hard time saying Grandpa. He likes to pretend he’s a grumpy old man now and that the name fits, but he’s far from it.

I love this man. I aspire to be like this man everyday. He’s not a perfect man, no one is, but he’s a good one and that’s what really counts. I want to be the husband to my wife that he is to my mom and I try hard to be the dad to my kids that he was to us.

Someday I want to be my grand-kids “Grump” as well.

Last year, my biological father died. I found this out by accident. I had little contact with him as I was growing up and the last time I saw him was the year my oldest was born. To me, this man had stopped being a father a very long time ago and so hearing that he died had little effect on me. He was just someone I knew when I was very young.

My Dad, is the man who took a young woman and two young kids and made a family with them.

My Dad, is the man who threw me in a car when I was suffering from the croup and raced me to the hospital, so I wouldn’t die.

My Dad, is the man who taught us how to ride bikes and when he thought we were ready, took us to the top of a hill and let us go. (He didn’t tell my mother he was going to do that either!)

My Dad, is the one who taught me how to drive a stick-shift and complains about the neck pains he has from those times to this day.

My Dad, is the one who, when as a young boy I would yell, “You’re not my Dad!” loved me anyway. (He may not have particularly liked me at that moment, though.)

He taught me all the best things about being a Dad. He may not have played a part in my existence, but in every single way that counts, he is my Dad. And I thank God that he gave me a second chance for getting a real father in my life.

Happy Fathers Day, Dad.

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