Happy (Step)Father’s Day!


The original step-dad

When I was picking out my Father’s Day cards, I found all sorts of possible combinations:  from daughter to father, from father to grandfather, from son-in-law to father-in-law, even one from the dog (I’m not kidding about that).  I did not, however, see any that were geared specifically to a stepdad.  It can be a little tricky, picking out the right card for a stepfather.  It makes me wonder if the card industry has decided that stepfathers aren’t really family, or maybe they’re just hoping someone will make up a separate Stepfather’s Day so they can cash in even more.  In case there’s any question, though, I’d like to lay out the case for why my stepdad is definitely family and should absolutely get a Father’s Day card.  I think that, if you read all of my reasons, you’ll end up agreeing—and if any of you work for card companies, maybe you’ll come up with a few card options for next year.

My Reasons For Why My Stepdad Is Family:

 1.  He went to my school concerts and plays

I took this for granted when I was growing up.  If I had a concert, everybody went.  That’s just how it was.  Now that I’m old enough to have to be fortunate enough to sit through go to children’s concerts myself, I understand just how much that meant, because those concerts are terrible  horrible GODAWFUL.  When I was a child, I thought my choir or band or whatever was usually pretty good, and comparatively speaking, we probably were.  But that’s like saying that sour milk smells comparatively better than rotten eggs.  It may be true, but that’s still really, really bad, and he sat through it over and over and over, knowing how dreadful it was going to be, because he wanted to support me.  That’s family.

2.  He helped me move

Not just once.  Not just when there were elevators.  Twice a summer every summer while I was in college, and about a half-dozen times since then, almost always when it was either sweltering or freezing cold with icy rain just to keep things fun.  It’s not just help moving furniture, either, it’s cleaning up the apartment (including bathrooms) and fixing leaks and figuring out why that light fixture isn’t working and I don’t even know what else, because he does it all while I’m off doing something easy, and he does it without being asked, which is good because I’d never have the nerve to ask him to do half the things he does.  That’s family.

3.  He puts up with my pets

I once had a seven-week gap between apartment leases, and I had to ask my mom and stepdad to take the cats in while I rented a room for those seven weeks.  I don’t know that I would ever describe my stepdad as a cat person.  I think he’s the kind of guy that, if he had to have pets, he would pick a dog, but he’d just as soon not have anything else to have to clean up after.  He took the cats in without a murmur, though, and let them have their catty way with his house.  I even heard stories of him letting “that brown cat” (my siamese) curl up on his head at night, but I’m not sure I can believe that one without pictures (oh please, Mom, tell me there are pictures!).  Subjecting his wall-to-wall carpeting to creatures whose favorite pastime is horking up most of the food they just ate was really testing the limits, but he did it because I needed him to and never once complained.  That’s family.

4.  I can’t stand the thought of disappointing him

I love my dad.  A lot of the things I do, I do because I want him to be proud of me.  A lot of the things that keep me up at night are things that would disappoint him.  Most of the time, these things motivate me to make good choices (saving for retirement! yay!).  Sometimes, not so much (don’t follow that dream! it’s not sensible!).  But that’s on me because those are my choices.  At the heart of every one of those things that my dad wants for me, and that I want to do to make him proud, is his wish for me to be happy.  That’s how you know that someone is family.  Underneath all of the fighting and nagging and drama and stress, you all truly want each other to be happy.  So I make good choices because I don’t want to disappoint my father, who wants me to be happy, or my stepfather, who wants the same thing.  I want to make them both proud because they’re both family.

I defy you to hear those reasons and then tell me that my stepdad doesn’t need a Father’s Day card.  As an adopted child with stepparents, I can tell you categorically that blood is neither the beginning nor the end of family.  Hallmark and the other greeting card companies just need to get with it.  Although, I did find a pretty good card for my stepdad this year.  On the front, it asked “Where would I be without you?”, and on the inside it said “Yes, but which prison?”  Really, I think that sums it all up, don’t you?

[All images are in the public domain via pixabay.com]


All The Stars In The Sky


image in public domain via pixabay.com

One of the bad things about posting to a blog late on Friday, or at any point over the weekend, is that most people don’t read blogs on the weekend.  Blogs are for coffee breaks, or lunch breaks, or the-boss-isn’t-around breaks.  However, on the theory that when life hands you gators, you may as well make Gatorade, here’s the up side to that:  it’s Friday.  My blog post can be as bizarre and embarrassing as my little blind heart desires because no one’s paying attention.  As long as I publish another post early Monday morning, chances are my Friday post could be about how I think all the cutest kittens should have their fur shaved off and be shot into space (the kittens, not the fur) and it would pass without a single comment.

I don’t think cute kittens should be shaved and shot into space, by the way, just in case this no-one’s-looking thing ends up backfiring.  I think that’s what we should do with the CEOs of companies that use those full-screen pop-up ads that completely obscure whatever page you’re trying to see and have no apparent way to close them out. I’d shave those bastards myself.  It’s Friday, so I can say things like that.  Ironic side note:  while I was checking online to make sure I was using the right term for that ad, one of those ads popped up.  The real irony is that it popped up while I was viewing a site describing how to block pop-up ads.  Though you never know; maybe pop-ups have become sentient and that ad was just acting in self-defense.  The internet is a postmodern Neverland.

Meanwhile, back at my original point:  since it’s Friday and no one is paying attention, I’m going to tell you something about myself that I wish weren’t true.  Here’s where I usually chicken out and write something like “When I’m on a plane, I look at the other passengers and decide who I’d save in the event of a crash based on what book they’re reading and how annoying their kids are.”  This is true, but I wouldn’t waste a wish on changing it.  If I had a wish to spend, one I could only use for something selfish and fun (like with birthday money when you’re a kid), I would wish I could remember what the stars look like.

Let me explain that a little:  I’m surrounded by things I can’t see, but I know sort of generally what most things look like because I make sure to take a good squint at them when I get the chance.  In the event I don’t get the chance, there’s always Google Images.  It’s kind of nice, actually, because while it’s true that I can’t see any of the flowers in my neighbor’s garden, the garden I picture in my head has all of my favorite flowers in perfect bloom year round.  In the garden I see, there are no weeds, no bare patches where you can’t get anything to grow, no creepy garden gnomes, and (this is key) no chrysanthemums.  That’s the flower for the month of my birth, and I’ve always felt gypped in that regard because I think they look frumpy.  So when I walk by a garden, no, I can’t see it, but in my head it’s full of daffodils and roses and orchids and violets and tiger lilies and more daffodils, and no one gets pricked by thorns and all the bees are too happy to sting anyone and there are no chrysanthemums, ever.  It’s hard to call that a disability.

I’ve forgotten what the stars look like, though, and I can’t find a picture or video that does them justice–I may have forgotten what they look like, but I still remember how looking at them made me feel, and no image I’ve seen even comes close. Sometimes I almost remember them, or I remember being cold while I watched them, or I remember where I was one time when I saw them.  But the times when I saw the stars were too long ago and too many things have happened since then, and although I clutched those memories and hoarded them for years, one day they were just gone.  Dissolved or fell apart, or crowded out, I don’t know, but conspicuous to the point of indecency by their absence, and gone forever.

This is by way of an explanation to my friends (who will read this post despite its being published on a Friday), who have never understood how I can be afraid of heights but always want to live on the top floor.  It’s an explanation of why I kept climbing all those trees and convincing my aforementioned friends to help me sneak onto the roof of every building on my college campus, and by the way, I’m sorry about all the roof violations.  I just wanted to see if getting closer maybe jogged my memory or even helped me see, but I could never get close enough for more than a few faint gleams that in retrospect were probably airplanes and satellites.  What’s gone is gone.

Eventually I stopped climbing trees and sneaking onto roofs, and you can make whatever metaphor or broader theme you want to out of all this, but for me it’s simply the literal truth.  I wish I could remember what a starry sky looks like.  I’ve made my peace with my fuzzy worldview, and I made Gatorade out of all the gators I could get to sit still long enough, and I’m not asking for a miracle cure that lets me see again.  I just want to remember.  Sometimes I’ll wish so hard that I’ll dream about them, and I’ll think ‘It’s only a dream, you’ve had them before, this isn’t real.’  And then I’ll think, ‘No, this time it’s real, I can tell, I’m awake and I can see the stars.’  And then I wake up and I can’t even remember how they looked in my dream.  It’s cruel and it hurts, and I wouldn’t stop having the dreams if I could.

So if I had a wish that I couldn’t use for world peace or perfect vision or an honest politician or any other fairy tale, that’s how I’d use it.  Who knows?  The future is nothing but possibility, and I’ve learned to be careful about words like “never” and “always.”  I embrace the maybe and I keep hope alive.  I also still want to live on the top floor and I will always, yes always, keep looking into the sky at night, and I’ll never, yes never, stop trying.  For all I know, there will be a way in my lifetime for me to go and see the stars up close, and then I won’t have to remember.  And if that happens, let me just tell you how I’m filming the entire freaking thing in whatever they’re calling high-definition at that point, and I’m storing copies of the video in at least ten different locations, real and virtual, just in case I develop amnesia right at the same time that there’s a fire, a flood, and a tornado and also the entire internet gets erased.  I’m not taking any more chances.


Van Gogh, The Starry Night [image in public domain]

Happy Friday.  I hope you enjoyed my confession.  Now, if it’s Friday night and you’re actually reading this blog post, do me a favor:  go outside, look at the stars, and leave me a comment telling me what they’re like.  Do it again tomorrow night, and the night after that, and just every single night for the rest of your life because watching a starry night sky is one thing you should never, never, never take for granted.  And after you’re done, put on something fabulous and go have some fun!  That’s what I’m doing.  It’s Friday night, after all.

And if you’re asking yourself how I’m going to make this wish when I can’t see a star to wish on: that’s what faith is for.  I can’t see the stars, but I know they’re there.  How’s that for a broader theme?