Happy Father’s Day to All the Bonus Dads Out There
Yesterday, I called my mom. I call her just about every day - multiple times. What can I say, almost 40 years in and I haven't cut the cord yet. Pops answered and he already knew the drill. "Hey Pops, is mom home?"
"Ya, let me go find her."
This seemingly unimpressive exchange is pretty near and dear to my heart. Pops is my step-dad, or as I like to call him, my bonus dad. My dad passed away several years ago from Parkinson's Disease and though we had been more than prepared for his death, we were not prepared for the hole he left in our hearts.
My dad was pretty much the easiest person in the world to be around. He wasn't one deep conversation. He'd rather tell me his favorite stories over and over. On Father's Day each year, I didn't have to think about what to get him - a case of beer, a Snickers, and some nuts... And he acted like it was some big treat. He didn't really ever get mad or anxious about anything. He was just an easy-going person. Oh, and a great snuggler.
My dad also knew the drill when I called. Mission: talk to mom. And he'd use the few moments it took for her to come in from outside to catch up on my life and tell me about all his adventures - like going to the dump or having coffee with his cronies at McDonald's at some ridiculous hour in the morning.
After my dad passed away, it was the small things like his endless stories about Elvis, and laying on him for hours watching TV, and all those times he'd answer the phone and say, "Hey baby, I'll get your mother," without me even asking that I missed the most. And I knew my dad's passing took a toll on my mom too. But she vowed to never date or (gasp) marry again.
So, imagine my surprise when after a July 4th trip to her hometown she came home with a new guy to meet named Wayne. I was immediately skeptical. Though she had known him since they were kids, I had never met this outsider. Also, he wasn't my dad. Yes, even middle-aged women have these feelings. But things settled down and I started to see this guy for who he was.
Though my daughter never had the opportunity to meet my dad, she calls him Grandpa Jim. So, we came up with the name Pops for Wayne. It totally fits his personality.
Everyone LOVES Pops. (Yes, even our grown friends call him Pops.) And what's not to love? Just like my dad, he's easy to be around. He's pretty adorable and the best grandpa a little girl could ask for. He lets my daughter put makeup on him and makes it a point to be involved in her life in any way he can. If you ask her who her favorite person in the world is - she'll tell you that it's Pops, hands down. He's 'her guy.'
Pops is the guy who is happy to sneak in a few minutes to chat while my mom is coming in from outside. He's a great hugger. He's a devoted Marine veteran. He's a lot of fun at family functions and on vacation, even that one time when he ate my sandwich at Disney World "by mistake." He bought me a really good lunch at Epcot to make up for it. He makes cat houses for outdoor kitties. He brings me things all the way from Kentucky to Indiana when I need them. He is happy with beer and nuts for Father's Day. He's a fantastic grandpa. He didn't replace my dad or the memories we have of him but he helped fill a big gaping hole when my dad passed away.
He's not my dad. He's my bonus dad. He's our Pops and we are thankful for him.
When I think about bonus dads - there are so many of them in my life. I think of my friends' dads growing up. I think about my brothers and how I can still count on them for anything. I even think about my husband and how he has stepped in to take care of me like my dad used to. I'm still not allowed to mow grass - for some reason they both thought I might fall off the world if I was to drive a lawnmower.
This Father's Day - if your dad is still in your life, squeeze him and love on him as much as you can. Unfortunately, they don't last forever. And let all your bonus dads know how much of an impact they have made on your life too.