We were already engaged to be married when she became pregnant. Nobody knew that she was several months pregnant when she walked down the isle in that beautiful dress to say the words “I do”. And it was that moment that we started our partnership. How naive I was, and immature. Reality has a way of slapping you in the face to get your attention, and just a few short months after we both said “I do”, she was in the hospital prematurely giving birth to our daughter. She was born under two pounds, and at the time, the hospital had a policy of not trying to save any child born less than two pounds. She was just a few ounces shy of that two pound marker. I got to hold my daughter in my arms and for just a moment, our eyes locked and I was overcome with grief, not for me but for her. She lived just a few short hours and I am secure in the knowledge that I will see her again, in heaven on a playground that God made for children, forever young and innocent. I see her in my minds eye in a yellow dress and I know that, when my lifeclock stops and I am in heaven, I will be brought to that playground and she will know me.

But even after having to goto the funeral home and make the preperations for my daughter, I was still immature. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, not really one or the other but internally fighting to stay immature. On the outside, I looked the part and I was happy, but I know that my beautiful young wife was more mature than I.

The doctor told us that if we wanted to hame more children, we needed to follow some medical advice, and we did. And she became pregnant again. Nine months later, I had a son. Yet I was still immature. I was angry that I now had to share my wifes attention, not at my son, but at the realization that I was unprepared for reality. Then, maternaty leave was over and my wife had to go back to work. She worked the “graveyard” shift. That meant she left home at around 10:00 pm and returned home shortly after 7:00 am. So after she left for work, I was responsible for baby duty. It was a few days after my wife returned to work, and it was late, or was it really early, I wasn’t fully awake to remember, but he was choking on something. I panicked and reached my finger in to scoop out what he was chocking on. I was awake then. As I held him to make sure he was alright, I was swept away. Like standing on a beach as a wave crashes over you and the undertow grabs your ankles and pulls you under. I was swirling under, fighting to come up for air. All of my memories of the time spent with my father was slapping me, tugging at me, trying to bring me to the realization that I was no longer a child. I loved my dad, I hated my dad, I reveared and feared my dad. I was awash in memories and the stark realization that he, at one point, realized he was responsible for me. As I broke the surface of those memories and had to swim to shore, as I stepped out of the ocean of memories onto the shore, I became a dad. It seemed to take an hour, but in reality, it was just a short moment. But in that moment, I was no longer a child, I was a dad.

I now have two sons. Both of them have found wives and have created families and lives of there own. My sons have loved my, hated me, reveared and feared me. I am blessed as my dad is still kicking. He has 4 great grand children. My sons are a great source of pride to me as they are good husbands and great dads. Their children love their fathers and will grow to love, hate, revear and fear their fathers and my fathers legacy lives in them, but I will always remember the moment that reality grabbed me by the ankles, pulled me under an ocean of memories and slapped me awake. I went in as an immature “pre-man” and emerged a dad.

Thank you dad for not a puddle or tub of memories, but an ocean, enough to bring me to dadhood.

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