Who’s Your Daddy?
Like many people raised by foster parents I don’t talk a lot about my childhood, at least my interactions with the two people who took me in. It wasn’t always always bad, it could have been worse, etc etc.
This couple, who for many years purported to be my parents, weren’t, yet their names appears on one of those “Delayed Certificates of Birth” that has been part of my personal record my entire life. The man who I thought was my father (and who obviously didn’t like me very much) turned out to not be related to me at all….relief!
I was nearly into my sixth decade on the planet before I discovered my original certificate of birth and another father. Wait! Not related to me either! At least they had my mother on there correctly. This man was a “stand in” so my unwed fifteen year old mother would not have to birth a bastard. No comments from friends or family on this one please!
This number two bogus father was a thirty five year old local “cowboy” (read alcoholic living with his parents) who, in 1947, was paid three hundred dollars to get my biological father off the hook. If you are picturing a fifteen year old girl, still in love with the boy who impregnated her, living with a middle-aged lecherous derelict then you see the sacrifice she made to insure there was a father of record on my certificate. She left him as soon as she came home from the hospital with me.
Well so far that accounts for three fathers and two birth certificates. But wait! In the process of unraveling the mysteries of my biological family I met the man who was my mom’s second husband and partner for life. So now I also have a step-dad and I like this man! He is the father of my half-brother and he has spent a lot of time telling me stories about the mother I never got to meet.
Okay that is two fathers of record, one biological father I actually did meet before he passed, and one step-father! Were any of these men actually “real” fathers, you know, the guy that goes out and throws a frisbee or baseball with you, checks to make sure you did your homework, goes to your ball games and teaches you the life skills of auto mechanics and carpentry? Not really. Darn!
Did I go through life without a father! How could I have so many, and yet none? Well as it turns out I had several “part-time” dads. I had my Scout Master, Harvey Brau, my Explorer Adviser, Bill Mantis, My best friend’s dad, T. O. Williams, Scout Executives Cap Blood and Jimmy Johnson, a French Canadian friend of my foster parents who came to Winter with us for several years, Art Marrot, Roscoe Lyons, (the husband of the black cook in our cafe) who would let me sit on his porch in “that” part of town while we listened to blues and he regaled me with stories of people he had met and things he had done.
As you can see it is actually a long list of fathers and I didn’t even cover them all. So many men took an interest in my life, helped mold me and countered what they must have realized was a bad home environment.
I wish them all a Happy Father’s Day and encourage each of you to think back to how many fathers you had growing up, and how many boys or girls you may have influenced, standing in for an absent or disinterested father!
Happy Father’s Day to you too!