My sister, Cheryl was divorced from her husband Rob before their youngest daughter Jenny was born. While divorce is a tragedy, there was a great degree of good that came to Cheryl’s children afterward. They were very young when the divorce took place, and their dad was not a big part of their life after that time. They did have a father figure, however…their grandpa, our dad. Dad was a mentor to them. His continued loving guidance was a major source of stability in their lives.
Dad always saw to it that they got to go on some vacations, and outings to the mountains, as well as drives…a type of outing we all enjoyed. Dad also provided a moral compass as well as help with educational things. Don’t misunderstand me, because they did have their mom, and Cheryl was and is a good mom, but they needed that father figure…someone who could do all the things a dad does with them.
Every one of Cheryl’s kids has told me that their grandpa was the only dad they ever had. Thinking about that I realize how blessed I was to have my dad, because not everyone has that. It’s hard to understand how they felt, because I was never in that position. For my sister’s kids, they had to look to my dad to show them all the things a dad usually shows you. That was not a bad thing for them either. Each one of them has told me about how their grandpa enriched their lives.
It really wasn’t anything so specific that my dad did for them, but rather it was just the love he showed to them…and it was the same love he showed to all his grandchildren, but maybe it was felt a little bit more deeply to them, because they wanted the love of a dad…and they wanted to belong. That is what my dad gave them. A sense of normalcy in their life.
When my dad passed away, each one of my sister’s kids told me that he was the only dad they ever knew. While I can’t pretend to know every detail of what he meant to them. I do know that somehow he impacted their lives is a way that made them feel a connection to their grandpa that was unlike the other grandchildren, even though my dad was very much loved by grandchildren and great grandchildren alike. I believe it was the way he became their mentor, showing them how to live, but living the best life he could as a model for them…as well as for the rest of us. That was the kind of man my dad was.