More than any others, there are four precious fathers whose influence is most on my mind on this day. Sam White is simply "Dad", the man responsible for half my genetic code and for raising me. Chris Williams is the man I married as a young woman one year out of high school, the man I choose to start a family with six years later. Don Bishop entered the picture late in the game but became a stand-in for my own dad after Graft vs. Host Disease claimed his (Sam's) life. Finally, Don Wright showed up in spring of 2018 and, while falling in love with me, also showed me that a man could love my daughters just like his flesh and blood.
Sam White was the kind of man any child would have been blessed to call "Dad". I had him for 27 years and had the privilege of giving him one year of grandparenting as well. I miss so much about him. I miss his smile, his terribly punny jokes, his gentle encouragement, and hearing him sing and play guitar. I miss our long conversations and soaking up wisdom. I miss watching him love my Mom and help her with the every day ordinary tasks of life. They really were the sweetest... I miss hearing his voice on the other end of the phone and seeing his signature next to Mom's on my birthday cards. I know Dad is in heaven and we will meet again, but our relationship is broken for the moment.
(Easter 2013, Abbi with Dada and Mama)
Then there's Chris. When he proposed to me in 2005, I was barely 19 and just a few weeks out of high school. He asked me to marry him and mentioned that there was no one else he could imagine being the mother of his children. In 2013, the Lord allowed me to give him a beautiful baby girl. His love for her was one of the purest, most lovely things I have ever witnessed. He delighted in her. Abigale means "father's joy" and this name proved to be the absolute truth. They adored each other. He couldn't wait to get home to spend time with her. When I worked long nights at the hospital, he got up with his daughter as she woke. He heated breastmilk and gave her bottles, burped her, changed her cloth diapers, and soothed her back to sleep. He liked to mimic her facial expressions for silly photos and read her bedtime stories. He flew her in the air like Superman and he took her to church to learn about Jesus whether or not Mommy could go.
When I had a miscarriage, my husband and I held each other in bed and wept over the tiny life that was lost. He spoke of the way he was going to see an empty chair at the dinner table for the child we didn't get to meet... He loved his children, born and unborn.
Chris didn't really get much chance to parent Aurora... but he did do this. He was thrilled we were expecting again. He was hoping this baby was going to be a girl so she and Abbi would be best friends like he and his younger brother Josh were. He was happy they would be close in age (again, like he and Josh). He lovingly cared for me through weeks of intense morning sickness which, in turn, was caring for his unborn daughter. During that time Chris also took on extra responsibility to help with Abbi. He spoke to Aurora in my belly button, because according to him, that was "where babies can hear you". (Haha! 😂) The last day I saw him alive, he told this child whose sex and name remained unknown, "I love you, too" and kissed my belly goodbye after having kissed my face.
Chris was an amazing dad to our children; all of them. Our time spent together as parents was brief but blessed. Having that ripped away was painful, shocking, hard to process... but I have come a long way. I admit I do not dwell on it much any more and I am glad. It hurts far too much.
(With my adopted dad/OB doc, Don Bishop, at Aurora's birth: 11/19/14)
And Dr. Don Bishop-- his path into my life is a crazy one. I never would have expected things to morph into what they are now; to a point where I feel as if I have a true human father after my own Dad's death, yet that's reality. This man initially entered my life in the periphery as my friend Amber's dad, and nothing more. But now, he's been there in the best and the worst moments of my life. He was there for the births of my daughters. He was there as I miscarried. He was there with me the night Chris died and the night after. He was at my graduation for my Bachelor's degree in nursing. He's been a grandfather to my little girls. I've shared Christmases, and Father's days, and caring for so many new mamas with him on labor and delivery...
He's the kind of dad that encourages and supports me. He validates my feelings but also gives biblical and life wisdom. He's been and continues to be everything I need in a dad despite the facts that he didn't make me or raise me. My heart is safe with him. His love for me is unconditional and I rest peacefully in that.
(Don W with all the girls, 2018)
Finally we get to Don (Wright), affectionately also known as "Donny-Don-Don" or "Daddy", as the mood strikes. He's the love of my life (I've been so blessed as to have been given another!) April 2018 was the first time our families met, with Don and then eleven-year-old Nevaeh coming for dinner. Abbi, five, and Aurora, three, watched through the window with excitement and then went into full rabid monkey mode as soon as they entered the house. 🤦♀️ Nevaeh asked me if they were always "like this" and I explained, "Believe it or not, they are trying to impress you." The hilarious expression on her face said it all. 🤣 Their ridiculous behavior did not scare Don away, probably because he was already a dad and knew how kids are.
Abbi loved him immediately but Abbi loves everyone, so that wasn't very surprising. Aurora, on the other hand, has been known to make up songs like, "I don't like nobody" and "Go away, Mommy, Daddy"... all sung with a smile... so she's a bit harder to impress. She did warm up to Don fairly quickly in the Aurora scheme of things though, liking him and in time, loving him as well.
"I'm Wonder Woman and you're the bad guy," Aurora commonly says, and then the three of them play fight. When he's here in the evenings, he reads bedtime stories, devotions, prayers, and throws them into bed. Giggles ensue. When they sass me or act hateful to each other, he doesn't hesitate to put them in time out and talk to them about how they need to act. He talks to them about Jesus. He has taken them to church or to fun events before when I was sick, at work, or had to do schoolwork. He's a dad.
This Father's Day was the first in either of their memories that they have had a daddy to celebrate with. We bought him gifts and they picked out a HUGE funny card for him that was shaped like a cheeseburger. Abbi also made him a card and on the front she'd drawn a Superman shield and the Flash's symbol because she knows he likes DC superheroes. Following church we took him out to Rt. 51 where they were having brunch and live music. We did presents and then ate.
Next time stood still as the girls began to dance with Don. This moment was one of those take-your-breath-away, heart-expanding, fall-in-love-all-over-again kind of moments. These little girls, these babies I'd birthed, nursed, raised, and wept for when Chris died... they had a human father right here, right now. Alive. In front of me. Holding little hands, nurturing little hearts. Dancing. Laughing with them. Fully in the moment, enjoying their happiness.
God is a good, good Father. He's the best Dad of them all... and He saw fit to smile on us.