I remember when my mom started dating Paul. I was an obnoxious 13-year-old whose father had left not long before. My father had a secret drug problem and after years of being a good daddy, one day he was just gone. Needless to say, my sister and brother and I were devastated. Being a self-centered teenager, it never dawned on me that my mother might actually be just as devastated, or that she might want to pick up the pieces of her life and move on.
My mom wasn't the kind of woman to "date" - so when she brought Paul home to meet us children for the first time, I remember being a bit shocked.
Paul was someone she worked with, and apparently he had been crazy about her for quite some time before she would even give him the time of day. I can remember thinking to myself, "If this guy thinks he's going to tell ME what to do, he's got another thing coming!"
Fast-forward to Christmas of that same year. My father hadn't called us in months and we had no idea where he was or if he was even still alive.
Christmas Eve was spent with my mom and Paul, and by that time I was growing quite used to the fact that he was probably going to be a permanent part of our lives. It was the first night that Paul slept over our house, because he was also spending Christmas Day with us and our family. Christmas morning I was awakened to the telephone ringing very early, around 5:30 a.m. I answered the telephone sleepily and heard a distant, familiar voice say, "Hello, Jenn?" I screamed and threw the phone down and started crying hysterically. It was my father. I ran into the living room where my mom and Paul were sleeping on the couch (my mom would never sleep in her bed with a man she wasn't married to!) and woke them up. A jumble of thoughts and emotions ran through my head. Part of me was feeling guilty that my father was on the phone while my mom's boyfriend was sleeping over. Another part of me was furious that I felt that way, my father had abandoned us! I was scared that Paul would be mad at me for crying, or that he would be jealous or that he wouldn't understand. I needn't have felt that way. Paul showed his true colors that morning by telling my mother to go talk to him while he comforted me. That day was the beginning of a wonderful relationship between Paul and I that eventually blossomed into a true father/daughter one!
My mom divorced my father and married Paul. He didn't just put up with three instant teenage children as a step-father would, he became our dad. My father died physically when I was pregnant with my first child, but he died in my heart years before that. I don't hold any grudges or resentments against him, though. If he hadn't done what he did, we would never have had a chance for Paul to be a part of our lives. So I believe that everything happens for a reason. My children know only Paul as their Papa, it took them a long time to realize that Paul isn't my biological father. It's been years since I've even called him my step-father, I don't feel the need to make that distinction. He is my "real" father. Paul walked me down the aisle at my wedding, as he did with my sister. It was an incredible feeling having this wonderful guy who chose to be my dad walking me down the aisle and handing me off to my husband.
Every year around this time I think about that Christmas Day so many years ago and I can't help but feel so very lucky and so very loved. They say you marry a man who reminds you of your father, and it's true! My husband is a lot like Paul, my "real" father. I can only hope that my daughter follows in my footsteps and marries a man just like the two of them.
Have a wonderful Holiday Season, everyone :o)
Peace & Love,
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