by Marilyn M. Irwin
Today I did something that I have never done before. I bought a card from the “Happy Birthday Dad” section. See, I was brought up by an amazing, single mother and never needed to peruse the card options with the “dad” labels. It was never something I longed to do or something that made me sad or filled me with a concern that I was missing out. I was always perfectly happy skipping those cards and moving on to other options labeled “Uncle” or “Grandfather”. These card options have always been ones I read and chose from twice a year- birthdays and Father’s Day. The men with these titles hold a special place in my heart. They were the male figures I admired and went to for any type of paternal advice that the matron of my home couldn’t give because she was, well, the matron. My uncle and my grandpa both raised quite amazing kids of their own so I figured, they had enough experience to help me with my life too. They had good references if I ever needed them. They have always been there for me and I am blessed that they could make up for one’s lack.
Something I have always found ironic is the fact that my birthday often falls on “Fathers’ Day”. My mom tells a story of a church primary instructor approaching her prior to a kiddie Father’s Day church program to make sure I would be ok singing a particular song entitled “I’m so glad when daddy comes home”. My mom smiled knowingly and said “She’s fine. She will just sing to her grandpa”, which I did. I had no problem making my own lyrics to fit my situation. I was proud that the man I call my grandfather could be the one I got excited to see when he came home from work. As I got older, the “Father” talks at church on Sundays were also spun to fit my situation, but in a more spiritual way. I always think about how my Father in Heaven could fit into their talks of gratitude for their wonderful, earthly fathers. And I smile. Because, again, one stepped up for another’s lack.
Now, I am married. With that, I inherited a Father-In-Law. A pretty great one in fact. And it’s strange. Because, for the first time in my life, first time in 26 years, I have to buy things like “Happy Birthday, Dad” and “Happy Father’s Day, Dad” cards. And I don’t really know what I am doing. I worry about going to sappy because we aren’t there yet, but I also don’t want to be too punchy. It’s a fine balance, I have to find. I’ll learn, I suppose. Standing in that card section, after realizing that this was indeed, a first, I had to take a minute. This was a big deal. A new thing. I told my hubs, but he just smiled, gave me a kiss and went about card hunting. He didn’t quite get the importance of this shopping trip. It’s a blessing and an adjustment that will take awhile. First step, cards. Second step, addressing this man as “Dad” in casual conversations. Eh, one step at a time I guess. Hope my first “Dad” card was a success.