When I was four, I wanted to marry him. He was tall, dark, and handsome. Everyday he would take me to work with him at Muscle Beach. He was funny, kind, playful, proudly showed me off to his friends, talked to me like I was a real person. I was head-over-heals in love with him. And then, he was gone. Divorce.
Nowadays, divorce usually means weekend visits or even two entire homes. For me it meant the end. He didn’t come to take me for ice cream or trips to Disneyland. There were no arguments over who “got me” for the holidays. Even though I seldom saw him, I carried him with me always. It is from him that I got my artistic eye, my love of adventure, and ability to dream no matter my age or circumstance.
I was six years old when I met him. He was not adventurous, artistic, or particularly attractive, while not unattractive. However, he had a cool about him, a Mad Men, golf and martinis kind of cool. He was awkward at best in showing affection, playing, or engaging me in conversation, but in those early days, he did give it his best effort. I could tell he was trying and I liked him for it. And then, he moved in. Marriage.
I never called him Dad. I did try at first, but if felt wrong. However, he moved in to the empty space that need to be filled and I felt grateful to him for it. He worked to help provide a home, food, and necessities of life. I felt secure. From him I learned to value education, independence, and to seek the finer things in life.
My two dads were so different from one another but I am forever thankful for what they brought to my life, both the good and the hard lessons. I lost both of my dads to cancer in a short six month period, but they will be with me always. I love to look at early photos of us together and treasure the memories they bring back, not of events, but of their character, their humor, their love.
When I do a family portrait session, I try to get a few photos of each child separately with their father. There may be other photos, those taken at birthday parties or camping trips, photos that tell the story of their lives. It is my hope, however, that the image I take will be different, one focused on just the two of them, lost in affection.
Happy Father’s Day!