“Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father.”
― Lydia Maria Francis Child
One of them has no clue why I could pick such a profession. Another worries I work too much. Still another disagrees with my political views and thinks I should just keep them to myself, especially with the job I have.
And you know what? They’re all right to some degree.
They’re my three dads, and they’re the reason why I don’t think I could ever consider divorce.
Don’t take that the wrong way. I love my three dads, and wouldn’t take anything for them. There’s nothing like fatherly advice from three men who couldn’t be more uniquely different by comparison. But before I finally came to grips with my dad situation in my early 20s, there were some years where it created a confusing set of emotions; I have to admit.
Come to think of it, they do all agree on a few things. I’m pretty sure all of them would say I’m not the best personal money manager. What can I say? Despite the headline atop this column, math hasn’t always been my strong suit. I choose to live in a world filled with words, because that’s what comes naturally to me.
Still, I can’t understand how I got here, because as unique as they are to one another, I am equally different compared to them.
Oh sure, I catch myself using those meaningful, yet meaningless, colloquialisms fathers tell their children, such as “because I said so” or “I’m your father. I don’t have to give you a reason why.” As a child, I wondered if all parents went to some school to learn all those snappy comebacks. Now, I just realize they are passed down from generation to generation, engrained in a parent’s head because they heard it so many times as a child.
How I inherited this set of multiple-dad circumstances is really no big secret. My biological father – we’ll call him Ed, because that’s his name – and my mother were high school sweethearts. They got married out of high school, and an unfortunate situation led to their divorce shortly before I was born.
While we’re on the subject, I didn’t have a relationship with Ed growing up. In fact, I was well into my 20s before we sat down and actually had a meaningful conversation. Forgiveness ensued, and now we share Thanksgivings and Christmases together. I sure hope my hair color holds out longer than his, because my lack of hair is certainly something I inherited.
I’m proud of Ed for what he’s had to endure over the years when it comes to me. He could have given up on me years ago, but he didn’t. And few mistakes from the past don’t deserve forgiveness at some point.
The same year I was born in March, my second father – we’ll call him Scott, because that’s his name – came into the picture. Scott and my mother were married in December that same year, and shortly after, he gave me his name. I’m quite proud of that name, even though I have to spell it often for folks.
Eight years after I was born, he became my sister’s father.
Scott also gave me 18 years of being a father to me before he and my mother divorced – again – due to an unfortunate situation.
I see Scott often, and he’s the only one who I actually call dad without any variation. He still gives me advice and hates how I drive. He’s helpful and always there when I need him.
Scott and I share a love for Alabama athletics, but come to think of it, I think all three dads have that in common. But Scott has that sincere passion for the teams that I don’t think is present with the others.
He also appreciates a good joke.
Scott is the man who made me who I am today, and I’m proud of him for that.
While I was in college, my third dad – we’ll call him Mike, because that’s his name – came on the scene and married my mother. They are still happily married.
Mike was also patient with a young man who wasn’t always accepting of the situation. But he’s stuck with me and proved to be a good husband to my mother. I’m proud of him for that, even when his honesty wasn’t always what I wanted to hear.
Even though it may not be for me, I guess divorce isn’t all that bad under the right circumstances. After all, I’d not have three strong father figures in my life. They’ve all come to be among the most important people in my life, and if I can pass along even some of their wisdom to my own children, they will be better off in life.
These three men have my respect and my love.
And I’m proud of them for that.
Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins.