I am so incredibly fortunate to have two amazing fathers in my life, neither of whom I share any genetic material with.
The first is my dad, Buzz, who entered my life as my stepfather when I was eight, then legally became my father when I turned 18, when he adopted me.
My dad has had a remarkably interesting life: He produced one of Jimmy Buffet's first albums, was the voice of Alvin on one of the Chipmunks' musical endeavors, and sang back-up for Brenda Lee fresh out of high school. He's written a book, been the voice of PB Max candy bar, and been entertained by Elvis at Graceland, but none of these things are what makes him special in my eyes. His most remarkable accomplishment? Loving a child born to someone else as much as his own. Not many men could or would do such a thing. But my dad did. And does still.
My husband, Chad, is remarkable in his own right, for a host of reasons. But the one I am most grateful for: his boundless love for our two daughters.
Though not his profession, Chad has a passion--and gift--for writing, and often writes about fatherhood and our girls. The following essay is a perfect illustration of the kind of father, and man, he is:
"The best we can do is show kindness regardless of circumstance. What’s the kindest thing? It would be better if this were asked more. My best friend once commented that I seemed happy. I thanked him and said I’d found my simple formula: I do things that make me so and avoid stuff that doesn’t. I try to be as kind as I can. I go easy when I inevitably screw things up.
Of the things I want for my daughters love and kindness are paramount. I want them to embrace what they’ll learn about happiness and avoid the pitfalls. There are small indicators that Piper, age three, is on her way. She’s driven to comfort. When her mom is sad I’ve seen her shower her with kisses or put on a kooky display, anything to cheer her up. Even before she could talk she had a keen sense of others suffering and a strong desire to make it better for them. It’s of this trait that I am most proud. I must help protect it at all costs. It’s the most valuable thing she’ll ever possess.
Shortly after the tenth anniversary of my grandfather’s death she and I were having a conversation. In response to being told her great-grandpa was a good guy and grew apples, just like the one she was eating, she said, 'When I get big I’m going to grow apples.' She pointed at me. 'For you, Dad... I’m gonna fill the whole yard.' Then she stretched out her arms and showed me how much.
There have been moments I’ve felt love as strong, but never more so than then. These are some of the best words I’ve ever heard. My heart is swelling as I write. This is immortality. I cannot be convinced otherwise. I’ve seen it for myself in the unbounded space between the outstretched hands of my firstborn. I’m written into her. The best part of me lives on, the only part that deserves to see forever.
So live well, Piper, and know that I’m with you in a very literal sense. Nothing can change that. You have my eyes, my nose, my feet and hands, and most importantly the shiniest part of my heart. When I go, find comfort in your own feelings and actions. Let them remind you of me in both your best and darkest of hours. And as for the rest, it’s up to you. Wherever I go I wish to take the worst parts. They’re of no use to you. You know this. The trick is letting go, sorting wheat from chaff. You and sis decide. I leave it in your very capable hands, the same ones that once showed just how many trees you intended to plant for me."
Happy Father's Day to my two favorite fathers, and to all the dads of the world. Where would we be without you?