I just replied to a message from my Mom’s father trying to guilt-bait us for disowning him. No F-bombs were used, though I could hear them in my finger tips. And because of that jack hole, I started thinking of many other men in my life. Let me be clear to those few reading this – I do not blame anyone anymore. That would require energy that I’d rather put to my own growth with my family and friends.

These three people have made their choices and walked their paths. I am not writing this out of vengeance or looking for emotional restitution. And I will end my writing with a fourth “Father”, my biggest surprise yet. Buckle in – This may feel heavy – I will not speak to all the details as some of those are very private, but I will speak to a child growing up with only my Mother as my hero.

My father – I understand you have had some medical challenges. I understand you and Mom were never a good match. I also remember the child in you that I loved so much – When you took an appliance box and made a house out of it in the living room.

I also remember having to call you because we didn’t have money, child support was inconsistent. I remember staying up late with Mom crying over which bills she was going to pay, or her worry about having money for my glasses so that I could do better in school. I thought Mom was unnecessarily strict in comparison to you. Only in later years did I realize your inability to be a foundation to our growth, and broken promises that sheared away at our confidence. The child in me still lingers around that question of our importance to you.

My grandfather – You became my role model after my father moved back across the country. Then you did a horrendous act the year before divorcing my Grandmother. But you didn’t make amends. You went off to another life where you violated again. Then you left the country. You showed up when my Mom had her accident – then disappeared again, leaving two teenagers to spend the next 20 years taking care of our Mother, making major medical decisions, providing cares no child ever should to a parent, dealing with possibility of death multiple times a year…And you seem to think we owe you something!?

We don’t owe you any semblance of a relationship – despite the crap you pulled we have become two strong people with amazing families. We still work through our baggage all the time and when you send out a message, it brings it all back. You are done.

My step-father – I was so excited when you came into our lives right at the time our grandfather basically shit the bed. You rode a motorcycle, knew about fishing and hunting, took me to archery. But you were only 8 years older than me with your own baggage of your family and we never seemed to find solid footing.  It’s too bad you couldn’t see outside your own problems and selfish needs.

Then you shot my mom in a hunting accident – I forgive you for that, I sincerely believe it was an accident. And I even understood when you divorced her before being shipped out to another base. You were weak, it was a hard emotional story to find yourself in. Me, Mom, and Sis were better off in the long run without you. And I’m sorry you continued to battle depression eventually leaving this world. I feel a need to sometimes reach out to you to see if you’re okay, only to be reminded you were lost in the darkness awhile ago.

My Father-in-Law – Thinking of you and your impact in our lives today automatically grabs me right in the feels. You were an asshole when I met you, only to become one of the strongest Men in my life. You carry your own baggage like many of us, but instead you work to be better and better. You are my role-model – rough edges and inappropriate jokes included. You love your family, you love people, and I know you love me. We may not have much in common than the deep caring for those important to us, but that’s more than I’ve been able to see of the others.

You show me that you can work past the demons, that how we were raised is of no consequence to how we treat others today, and that no matter how tough things are, love will continue to make it easier to deal with.

Thank you for showing me I didn’t have to be only the product of those males who sucked at an unspoken promise or failed to engage in becoming better than their wrongs. Thank you for walking with me while I figure out what a Dad looks like.