Two dads, one here, one in heaven, to celebrate

My first Father's Day without my dad was almost 20 years ago.

He died on a beautiful Sunday in June 2002, after decades of suffering from a severe case of diabetes and all the complications that come with it. But on that particular day, I had no expectation whatsoever it would be his last.

Father's Day was two weeks later, and I'm ashamed to say I refused to invite my in-laws over, even though we had always hosted a barbecue that day. At the time I resented people who had fathers to celebrate, including my husband.

I went to the cookout at my in-laws, but steeled myself against feeling too much of anything while I was there.

When we got home, I remembered a friend had given me a gift, with instructions to open it on Father's Day. I opened the wrapping to discover a beautiful music box with that wonderful poem about how we only see the underside of the tapestry God is weaving with our lives.

Even more touching were the little cards he had printed and placed inside the box. "Perhaps God is a poet who writes with words of flesh and bone and leaf and flower," one read. I immediately recognized the verse from the card I gave my friend when his father passed away.

"Every hour of every day, words pour out of the poet's heart, and every word is beautiful and true and worth the telling.

And when each poem is perfect, and there is no more which ought to be said, the poet gently takes the words back into his heart, where they are safe forever ... and then begins again."

Best of all, the messages on the other cards had come from a request he sent to my closest friends, asking them to share words of comfort. So all their love was in that box as well.

I wept when I read the poems. And then I felt better.

I'm not sure what emotions will surface this Father's Day. A month ago I spent my first Mother's Day without my mom. I'm now at the age where I have a growing list of friends who have lost both their parents. It's a club I'd rather not be in.

But as I've written about a few times in the past several months, I have been blessed to discover other family members this past year. I sent in DNA kits last fall and found my half-sister and my birth mother and father.

I have been thrilled to meet all of them and am lucky that none of the challenges that can plague reunions like these have surfaced. And yet incorporating new family members in your life takes time. You don't know all the stories or understand all the family jokes.

And while Hallmark apparently is making cards for birth parents (I saw one posted online), I have yet to locate one in a store. So I selected a card for my birth father that talks about the characteristics of a good man. (You don't need to know Bob very long to know he is one.)

I also saw a card for two dads - clearly not meant for my situation, but it made me think nonetheless.

"Anyone would be lucky to have dads like you to grow up with, to learn from and most of all, to love."

I had my dad to grow up with and learn from and love. And now I have my birth father to learn from and love as well. I certainly am lucky.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean