Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015: The Only Dad Left

Dear Grandpa,

It's hit or miss I suppose. Some people when they get married they get more than just a new start to life with their spouse. Both the husband and wife are joining one another's family. For better, for worse (I wonder if that's why they say that). A lot of people love their in-laws. A lot do not. Most, whether they realize it or not, are blessed with both a father and a mother-in-law.

As you know, Angie, through no fault of her own, does not have a relationship with her dad. When I married her I wasn't marrying into a family with a father-figure. Oh, I am definitely blessed in other ways. Linda is a wonderful mother-in-law and a loving grandmother. A true gift in our lives. By marrying Angie, I also joined a family filled with loving grandparents. I love all of them. Their generosity and grace over the years have filled me with a heaping spoonful of unforgettable gratitude.

But what I didn't get is a father-in-law - someone that I always pictured having, but that wouldn't be pigeon-holed to just that role. He would be a best friend as well. I don't have that. And I was okay with that - until 2005. That was a difficult year as you remember. You told me once that you loved my dad like a son. You proved that in many ways. One being that you drove him around for his service-calls many times when due to his brain tumor he wasn't able to drive anymore. That's something a father does and you did it with no hesitation. Just love and grace. You lost a son that year. I lost my dad. It was the years that followed when I started to realize more and more that I wasn't just missing my dad. I had a father-shaped hole in my life that would never be filled again. A boy needs his father. A grown-boy needs his father in different ways, but still needs him nonetheless.

I choose joy on Father's Day. With the blessing of three amazing girls, I have no choice. I don't dwell on what is missing or what I don't have, but rather give thanks for what I do have. At one point since losing my dad, I realized something. You aren't just my grandpa - although you played that role perfectly. Growing up, you did a lot of the same things my dad did. First and foremost, you showed up. You came to almost every event in my life. Every birthday and celebration. You played baseball and basketball with me in the backyard and driveway. You put me to work and disciplined me when necessary. You took us on trips and told us stories. You read to me and played games. It's the greatest one-two punch I had in my life. My dad and you. But, like I said, you aren't just my grandpa. You are the only dad I have left.

Thank you, Grandpa, for filling that hole in my life that only an amazing grandpa could do. It's not a perfect fit because each of us has our unique niche. Our own size and shape. You are not my biological dad, but you are the next best thing. You are my only father-figure and you have deserved and earned that role in my life by showing me (along with my dad) what being a true husband and father is. I cannot begin to explain the importance you have had in my life, but I hope this letter gives you some indication of how much I love and respect you.

Happy Father's Day, Grandpa!

Ryan

*The picture above was taken on Easter 2015.

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