It has been 27 years since I became a father. We did not know that she was a girl until she arrived.
Of all the jobs or titles I’ve ever held, there is none I love more than being Daddy.
There is a part of me that stops at the moment I get a call from someone who calls me Dad.
Some people end up with more than one dad. I have three grown stepchildren who call me some version of dad. One calls me Pops, the other calls me Papa Harris and the other just calls me. I have declared that my son-in-law has to call me “Pa” and I make him pronounce it the way Opie did on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
I love them and have felt that love in return. That’s not why I did it, but it is the benefit that you treasure most.
My dad was a heck of a good guy. He was a decorated World War II veteran and suffered in his post war life from a rare form of anemia. He died when I was 24. I regret that I did not learn many of the skills he had. He was a great cook, a good carpenter, plumber and electrician and was a great dad.
I have been blessed with many surrogates. Some of them were men who offered wisdom and counsel when I reached one of life’s many crossroads.
I have great admiration for those who become fathers for a second time. I’m speaking of those who are suddenly faced with a child who has no one else to turn to.
We have many grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Sometimes, it is because of the scourge of drugs. There are many children who have been taken away due to a parent’s addiction to meth, cocaine or heroin. It is a real thing and it is happening every day.
There are other reasons that grandparents become parents. It all boils down to the inability of a parent to take care of a little child. It’s not easy.
Sometimes, a child is old enough to understand some degree of what led to them being removed from their parent’s care. They often become rebellious against a grandparent who wants nothing more than to love and care for them.
And, yes, sometimes that duty falls to a single grandmother who works hard to provide for herself and an unexpected additional family member or two.
I have a friend and his wife who are raising their grandson. They have legally adopted him. They have a mutual admiration for each other. The little boy now calls his grandfather “Dad.”
When the little boy reaches his teenage years, the dad/grandad will be in his late 60s. Nothing in life can prepare a person who should be thinking about retirement for dealing with the issues of a teen.
I have no doubt they both will succeed.
Being a dad is not an easy job whether you are 26 or 66. But there are so many who have learned to do it well. Yes, we will all make mistakes and have moments that we regret, but I hope the good will always outweigh the bad.
For those of you who have a dad nearby, make sure you spend a little time with him on this Father’s Day. If you can call him, please do.
The others who have said goodbye to their dads can draw on memories to treasure for a lifetime.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.