It's just a fact of life that not all biological fathers are dads and not all dads are biological fathers.
My first marriage was ill-advised and short-lived. It was over before my daughter's first birthday and my ex-husband remarried weeks after the divorce was final. That's all I'm going to say about that.
I was a single parent for seven years. It wasn't awful. I was fortunate enough to have a job that allowed me to bring my child with me each day. We had a comfortable life and I was pretty proud of myself. I convinced myself that Molly didn't miss having a full-time father in her life.
Then one day we went to Lakeshore Mall for a ride on the carousel. Molly was little, 3 at the most. I stood beside her and held her on the black pony, always her favorite, as the carousel started moving.
Other children around us waved happily to people who stood watching. I noticed Molly was waving as well. I asked her who she was waving to. Her answer broke my heart. She said, "I'm pretending I have a daddy out there to wave to."
When I married my husband, Arthur, one of his first orders of business was to legally adopt Molly. The procedure was surprisingly easy, and by our six-month anniversary, Molly was Molly Glazer. The occasion was even more special since the presiding judge was Andy Fuller, one of my Gainesville High School schoolmates. He spoke about how adoption finalizations were some of the happiest aspects of his work. He gave Molly a commemorative coin set as a keepsake.
Then we celebrated with a ride on the carousel. Molly finally had a daddy to wave to.
Arthur and Molly may not share DNA, but they are father and daughter in every other way, the ways that really matter. She knows he's there for her in times of car trouble, computer trouble, boyfriend trouble. He was first man who would willingly throw himself in front of a bus for her, wrestle alligators if the occasion arose, do whatever necessary to ensure her safety and happiness. When she finds someone else who can offer that kind of devotion, I hope she marries him.
Two of the best dads I know never had children of their own. Harold Platt and J.H. Holcomb have been members of the Optimist Club for decades. I've written about these guys before but it bears repeating.
Through their hard work, hundreds and maybe thousands of kids have benefited in many ways. They've helped sponsor youth baseball teams and golf tournaments, oratorical and essay contests, recognition banquets for both students and teachers and much, much more.
Harold and J.H. have sold a forest full of Christmas trees to finance these good works and, when that wasn't quite enough, I suspect they dug deep into their own pockets to make up the difference.
They've been wonderful to our girls. They've attended their plays and competitions, kept up with their grades and accomplishments, shown genuine interest in the sort of people they're becoming. They've always been encouraging and kind.
Multiply that by the hundreds of other kids to whom they've been equally attentive. On the big scoreboard of life, their names most definitely go in the "Dad" category.
No, as far as I'm concerned, Father's Day isn't just about DNA. It's a celebration of the men who do the heavy lifting when it comes to raising kids. The ones who do diaper duty, build playhouses, soothe nightmares and stay through the bad times, making subsequent good times all the sweeter. And when staying around isn't possible, they pay their child support and maintain visitation no matter what.
Some of them are in shared custody arrangements or are the custodial parents themselves. Whatever the arrangement, true dads always put the needs of their children first. Always.
It's also about the ones who work to make life better and fuller for other people's children, too. So Harold and J.H., on this Father's Day I salute you. Here's a bottle of Old Spice for each of you. Happy Father's Day.
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears regularly and on gainesvilletimes.com.