A Tribute To My Three Fathers

June 18, 2015 14 Comments TAGS: Relationships

By Guest Blogger Marnie Grundman 

My name is Marnie. I am a 40-something woman, girl, lady, mother, sister, daughter, aunt… you get the picture. I am currently at the peak of transition in my life– starting over in every conceivable way. Living in a new city. Subletting as my material world lays in storage. I can literally go anywhere, become anyone, do anything. My true accountability is only to myself, as I am at the beginning of my journey with just me in tow… and maybe a carry-on or two depending on the day. My words are from my soul, they are real and hopefully they are relatable. My hope is to help other souls beginning anew in uncharted territory.

photo credit: worshiphousemedia.s3.amazonaws.com

photo credit: worshiphousemedia.s3.amazonaws.com

Father’s Day on Sunday is a strange day for me. Heavy and yet not heavy, and I will share why.

I had three fathers growing up.

But somehow I always felt fatherless until I connected with my biological dad. The heaviness comes from missing my Dad, the unheaviness comes from being grateful for the brief experiences we shared before he passed.

It is truly a wonder that I could like men, can bond with men and have any trust at all in men. The legacies my fathers left could have been unintentional as I know they loved me and only wanted my happiness. It wasn’t their fault they were temporary. My mother had a revolving door on her relationships– there were the ones she married, and then there were the ones who passed through for an evening or a weekend; those were my “uncles.”

My Dad (“real father”) left when I was 14 months old. I saw him once when I was five years old as he (unbeknownst to me) was signing custody of me over to my grandparents. I remember that day as if it were a movie. It’s in my mind’s eye for always. He picked me up and put me on his desk, handed me a hot dog and a coke, like nothing. And then he was gone. He wrote child support checks throughout my life (also unbeknownst to me.).

My first stepfather came to be when I was in 3rd grade. He was a beautiful gift. He showered me with love, affection and most importantly, acceptance. I was my stepdaddy’s little girl. He passed away though at the hands of my mother when I was twelve.

The summer after my stepfather passed was horrific. He died in February and my mother remarried in June, news I received from her by phone. She sounded elated and was so excited for me to meet him. I cried myself to sleep that night, not because of her marriage, but because the realization that the only father I had ever really known was dead. I didn’t cry at his funeral, I didn’t believe he was in that pine box. I sat quietly staring at all the people crying. I watched as his mother pounded on the coffin screaming, “Let me in!” I was completely disconnected from “reality.” I simply wanted to be invisible and did my very best to dissolve into the background of those horrible moments and the week of Shiva that followed.

I cried myself to sleep ever so quietly that June night so as not to be found out by my aunt. I cried, wept until my well was dry. One week later, I went to find my real father. I visited his office and the receptionist told me he was in a meeting. She was shocked to see me, she recognized me as his immediately. You see, I have the same face as my real father, there is no denying. Yet I was denied. I sat in that office as the staff left, and my coward of a father snuck out the back door. I sat in that office as the cleaners came in and out. I watched them emptying trash bins, silently dusting and vacuuming. I would have sat in that chair all night. My eighteen year old brother came for me. He somehow figured out where I was and without a word he extended his hand; we walked back to my aunt’s house in complete silence. I cried myself to sleep again that night. I felt that my father who passed did so because I couldn’t save him. I was a failure, the proof was my real father didn’t even want me. I was worthless, just as my mother had said; the “proof” was in these moments.

photo credit: bcbits.com

photo credit: bcbits.com

Summer ended, and I was greeted with yet a new stepfather. He was a really nice man. I was forced by my mother to call him Daddy. He tried to intervene, suggested I call him “Pop,” like his real children did. My mother ruled supreme… a lesson he had yet to learn. She had already taken me aside and laid down the law, and I knew it would not be worth the battle. I felt so disloyal calling him daddy. That was my first stepfather’s earned title. But fortunately this “daddy” was a lovely man and ended the trail of uncles. Fortunately, this was also the year I was sent away to boarding school.

Fast forward to six years ago. I have long since separated from my mother and she is on husband number six now. I have united with my father through quite a series of events.

The choices I made to have a relationship with my real dad were misunderstood by most and celebrated by a few. I chose to let go of the past, and in doing so, my father validated childhood memories, explained his decisions, and above all apologized without prompting. Because I let go of what could not be undone, I received unconditional love from my father. My children bonded in the most special ways with their grandfather and we all gained a huge extended family. One day I will go into more detail, but for today, I simply would like to be grateful and thank my fathers.

Step-father Number One

Step-father number one, my first “Daddy,” thank you for the love you showered upon me. Thank you for making me feel like a beautiful little girl. Thank you for the light moments amidst the darkness that was my mother. Thank you for the physical affection, the cuddling and the light kisses on my nose that make me smile to this day. Thank you most of all for being my soft place to fall, you made me feel safe for the fist time in my life. You gave me a secure foundation. You were my solid ground with no unexpected faults. Thank you for being my confidant, my keeper of secrets and most of all, thank you for teaching me that men could be trusted. Every year I light a candle for you, Daddy. You are remembered and honored by me, you are a story to my children and you for always will be.

Step-father Number Two

Step-father number two, I will call you “Pop,” as we both wished I could. Thank you for your sensitivity. Thank you for validating me as a good person. Thank you for trying to protect me and most of all, thank you for sending me to safety. I don’t know if you knew that you were sending me to safety when you enrolled me in boarding school, but that was the result. You saved my life. You put me somewhere that gave me perspective. You gave me peace. As you sit in heaven with my first Daddy and my real Daddy, I hope you know that I have much love and respect for you.

To My “Real” Father, My Daddy

And finally to my “real” father, to my Dad, my Daddy. Thank you for owning up to the past and helping me heal. Thank you for giving me unconditional love and for filling the holes in my heart. Because of you, I no longer look at father’s day cards wistfully. I now know what it’s like to buy one without heartbreak. Thank you for making me your “little girl” in my forties. Thank you for giving me advice that I still hold dear today. Thank you for becoming my rock. Thank you for all the answer to the questions I never had to ask. The one thing that haunted me more than anything was the wondering…. wondering if I was ever sitting in a restaurant in your proximity without recognition. There are no words to describe how that haunted me. Every time I was in a restaurant in your city, I would look around at the other tables searching for your face. I knew I wouldn’t know you for all the years that had passed; yet I hoped I would.

Thank you Daddy also for allowing me to give you what you never gave to me, not because you didn’t want to, but because you couldn’t. I know you recognized that, and you didn’t need to speak the words. Thank you for telling me you love me and giving me the opportunity to do the same in the last moment we shared. It’s ironic that mine was the last face you saw of our family. Mine was the last voice you heard in your consciousness. I never really thought about that until now. Your last moments in life were mine…were ours. You never blew out my birthday candles with me. You were not there for most of my milestones. Yet we shared the last moment of your life exclusively. I don’t know why that moment was given to exclusively. I fought for you in the hospital. I brushed your teeth, I walked you to the bathroom, I took care of you in the way you never took care of me. I remember the moment when this concept flashed in my mind and I know you thought it too. Thank you for that silent acknowledgement. I love you more than words could ever do justice to and most off all, I know you loved me the same. Thank you my dear Daddy. Thank you most of all for that.

photo credit: ytimg.com

photo credit: ytimg.com

For all of the Daddies, “real” and other, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day on Sunday. For my three daddies, thank you for combining your efforts to make me whole.

Today’s Mantra for us all: Let go of what cannot be changed, and let love in. 

It’s the only way.
~Marnie

About

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Marnie Grundman is a 40-something mother of three adult childen, woman, girl, sister, daughter, aunt and a professional at reinventing herself.

A Montreal native, Marnie grew up in NYC, Cheshire and Miami, where the rich and varied cultures shaped her into the person she is today.

Marnie began writing to document her journey as a 40-something woman starting over. She is at the peak of transition, starting over in every conceivable way. You can follow her journey at MarnieGrundman.com.

If Marnie’s post has touched you in any way, or has shown you that forgiveness can set you free, please leave her a comment below. She will be reading.

A very happy and healthy Father’s Day to the dads around the world, including my precious own.

Erica3

    14 Comments

    1. Steve Drummond says:

      Beautiful.

    2. Wow what an amazing delivery of such a personal story, it touched my heart and made me cry. I have had the pleasure of meeting Marnie in person and she is beautiful from the inside out. Your a natural writer I look forward to following you and joining you on your journey.

      Love

      Kirstie xxx

    3. Skye says:

      Thank you for your story, we share so many similar threads with the many dads in and out of our lives. I however, never had developed any bond with the many men in my moms life, although she tried to be discrete about it, it was quite obvious the role they played. My father never established a relationship with any of his kids and even after many years when I went in search of him I felt a sense of disloyalty to my mother. We never remained in contact after that first meeting but many years later on his dying bed I tried to express to him that I loved him even though he never loved me in return, and yet still he couldn’t say the words I’m sorry nor I love you. I have thought about his final days many time over the past years… I hope he is at peace wherever he may be.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hello Skye,

        Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I hope it helps for you to know you are not alone. I was very fortunate to have the fathers I had when so many have had none. I didn’t realize that until I wrote the article.

        I spent a lifetime feeling sorry for myself not knowing my father and wondering what was wrong with me that he didn’t love me. I was fortunate to have closure; The biggest lesson I have learned is that no matter what our parents did or didn’t do we have to love ourselves and we are worthy of love. They gave what they were capable of giving and it is not a reflection of who we are, it is a reflection of what they didn’t receive.

        I hope you found peace in being able to demonstrate love to your father even if you didn’t feel it in return. Some people are simply incapable or afraid to return love, how sad for them.

        • Hello Skye,

          Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I hope it helps for you to know you are not alone. I was very fortunate to have the fathers I had when so many have had none. I didn’t realize that until I wrote the article.

          I spent a lifetime feeling sorry for myself not knowing my father and wondering what was wrong with me that he didn’t love me. I was fortunate to have closure; The biggest lesson I have learned is that no matter what our parents did or didn’t do we have to love ourselves and we are worthy of love. They gave what they were capable of giving and it is not a reflection of who we are, it is a reflection of what they didn’t receive.

          I hope you found peace in being able to demonstrate love to your father even if you didn’t feel it in return. Some people are simply incapable or afraid to return love, how sad for them.

    4. Kathy says:

      All I can say after reading this piece is wow, what a thought-provoking and touching piece.

    5. Mitch says:

      This is a beautifully written memoir. Open, warm, brutally honest ( your mother killed one of your dads?), heart-wrenching at times, but over all- strong and life-affirming. I suspect all these qualities are possessed by the writer. As a father with my own daughter and step-daughter, your story resonated with me, and perhaps uncomfortably so. There is a real talent here. I look forward to your further writings. But next time, I will be prepared with a box of tissues.

    6. Kelley says:

      Marni you put tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am amazed by your strength. You have inspired me. Happy Fathers day to your 3 dads.

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