Forever Father's Day
Father’s Day, from here on out one of the hardest days of my life.
I never thought I would have to fear Father’s Day in my 20’s but here I am. Dad, you were taken from me, too soon and this is my first of many Father’s Day without you.
I want to honor you Daddy, Dad, my Papa Bear by writing this open letter to you in heaven reminiscing about all the memories I have with you and sharing them with the world because you were many things but the best thing you could ever be was my Daddy.
When you met Mom, she had me, a chunky blond curly haired two-year-old. Every time I think about it, I’m like how did you not run the other direction? Instead you did the opposite, you chose to be my dad. You decided to become the most important man I would ever have in my life. The man who would teach me English, how to ride a bike, shoot a gun, how to drive, fix my broken heart, send me off to college, give me a family, and show me how to be a strong woman and not to ever care what anyone thinks of me.
I remember, the first time you brought me home to Escondido, CA our first stop was Mervyn’s. Where you bought me so many outfits, shoes and even got me my very first bike. A bright pink bike with training wheels and tassels on the handles. You would later teach me how to ride that bike without training wheels at grandma’s house. Aside from you throwing me into the pool to learn how to swim, teaching me how to ride my bike without training wheels is one of my favorite things you taught me as a child. I remember it so vividly, we were in grandma’s cul-de-sac you looked me in the eyes and said, “Don’t worry, daddy has you, I won’t let go, ok!” and sure enough you were holding the back of my seat running with me as I peddled as hard as I could. You were there screaming, “faster, faster sweetie! See it’s not scary” then I looked to you and you had let go! And there you were watching me ride all around the cul-de-sac with a proud dad smirk on your face.
I’ll never forget the camping trips at lake McClure over the summer or the ones in the Fall to go hunting. Some of the best memories are being with you and Grandpa Bear in the trailer, shooting guns, riding in the tube behind the boat. Teaching me how to shoot with the .22 rifles. You made sure to set up all the cans and targets and would devote time before or after you were finished hunting for the day. You made sure that I knew everything there was to know about guns and how to use them safely. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to go camping again, Daddy, because it just won’t ever be the same. You won’t be there to teach me how to hunt for my first deer and cook me a good steak up in the mountains. I can’t even bring myself to scroll through our messages where you gave me directions for Cody on how to cook me a steak to my liking in case you were ever gone. I’ll hang all of your and Grandpa’s deer in my home proudly because I know they meant so much to you.
It’s because of you, Daddy, that I hope to one day own a boat. Take my kid out to the lake to make the best memories wakeboarding, tubing, water skiing. There was nothing better than camping for 1-2 weeks in the summer out on the lake. Spending all day out on the water crying about the fish. You loved to make me fall off the tube on purpose because you thought it was hilarious that I was petrified of the tiny fish in the water. I would scream “DAD COME GET ME NOW!!!” you would drive the boat over as slow as possible just to make me squirm. You would always tell me to BUCK UP. Well guess what, Dad? I’m still a chicken. Just like when you asked me to climb Half Dome this year with you, Sierra and David this 4th of July. I told you, “little too steep for me, Dad, I’m a chicken!” you responded by telling me, “It’s steep but you got long legs and will be just fine. Bring your boyfriend ‘cause I ain’t gonna baby you.” Something you never did, baby me. You wanted me to grow up and be a strong woman who didn’t need anyone. I Thank you for that. I promise you, I’m going to BUCK UP and take any chance that’s given to me because I don’t know that I’ll be able to tomorrow.
Learning how to drive was a different story, I couldn’t wait to learn, and you couldn’t wait to teach me. By the time I had turned 16 you had already been letting me drive on your lap on dirt back roads for about 7 years haha! So, it was no surprise that by the time I was 15 I had already passed my permit test on the first try. The same goes for my driving test. I remember being so excited that I could finally drive to your house on the weekdays, weekends, whenever I wanted to. You used my driving to your advantage of course, had me run to the grocery store, pick up dinner, or drive both of us to my dentist appointments, haha. I think you just preferred the sporty ride in my red Mustang. Man, what I would do today to drive you around town one more time, Dad.
You know what, Dad, to this day I wonder how you managed to keep the secret for so long that I wasn’t your biological daughter. Your whole family, you, no one said a peep. You know, if I had never found out about my biological father, I would still be happy. One thing you told me at the young age of 13 when the secret came to light. “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad” you continued to tell me that through the years. You always wanted me to find my biological dad. I remember the day like it was yesterday when I called you to tell you I found him. I wanted to make sure you were not hurt, I wanted to respect you because you were MY DAD and me finding my bio dad was not ever going to change that. You cried, tears of joy for me and you were so excited that I had more siblings and more family, but your heart broke to pieces when I told you, my bio dad had been killed in an accident. You were so upset for me, that he would never get to meet me, that you got so much time with me that he never had. Well dad, I think that God put you in my life for a reason. On the first day you met me, God chose you to be my dad, to hold my hand and show me love and for you, I am grateful.
I hope to one day be as patient with my kid as you were with me when it came to teaching me things, showing me things and helping me with things I couldn’t understand (there goes a boat..). Every day I thank God for choosing you to be my dad, for allowing me to have so many memories with you. Losing you unexpectedly really makes me look at life out of new eyes. Things I used to think were so cliché before, like ‘tomorrow isn’t promised’, ‘always say I love you’, are things I find myself preaching to my friends. What I would give to be able to tell you how much I love you one more time, tell you I want you to walk me down the aisle, give you another hug and just be there for you Dad. I know of the three of us I was probably the hardest on you because I’m a control freak and you would drive me nuts with the whole, ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ way of life. I needed to just sit back and understand that you were living your life to the fullest and I should have listened to you every time you told me to, “Relax, you can’t control everything.”
I can’t even describe the pain I have inside of me every time I think of all the firsts I’m going to have that you won’t be here to see. Something that gives me so much comfort is knowing that your faith in the Lord was so strong and that’s something you always made sure us kids had, too. I know that all the way till the day you were taken from us, you were a firm believer in him. I know that someday I will see you in heaven with Grandpa Bear, it’s the waiting that’s killing me.
Looking back, life went by so fast, too fast. I’ve never wished and prayed for something so much in my life that I can never have back. Thank you, Daddy, for being the dad that you didn’t have to be.
Love you forever and always to heaven and back.
Michelle “Brat” Martin