My Three Dads
Weekly Writing Prompt 5/2/2017: Write about three people you haven’t seen in a long time. for 5/2/17
Written by: (c) Copyright 2017 – BG Jenkins
I grew up in the South Park area of Dayton, Ohio, and at that time if you lived on our street, Park Drive, you knew who my dad was. He was the little man (5′ 6″) who was a little stooped over, had a brace on his back, and sometimes a cane in his hand. He always wore this bright red jacket, and black Homburg hat. This drove me absolutely crazy. I hated that red jacket, because to me it made his disability stand out all the more. He had become disabled by a work related accident, and went from being a city street maintenance worker to a preacher, and stay at home dad. The situation forced my mother out of the home, and supporting the family. Dad spent many of his days in bed, in pain. On his good days, he would walk, and by outward appearances was just kind of weird… which we felt dubbed us “the weird kids.” I felt traumatized at times by this.
This wasn’t all of it. One neighborhood friend asked me when I was young, “Is your dad a “holy roller?” I had no clue what a “holy roller” was, and I flatly denied it. The tone of the question stated that it (“holy roller”) was not a good thing. Though the outer appearances had “weird” written all over it, we had some precious moments inside the family.
Dad would read his Bible to me and my sister at night, and then pray with us before we went to bed. My sister recalls that she loved laying her head on his chest, and listening to his heartbeat while he read. Of course she had that privilege, she was the baby. My brother, who is 7 years older, was always out with his friends, so he doesn’t remember this “hanging with the fam” thing.
Unfortunately, being a stay at home dad in the ’60’s did not do much for Dad’s self-esteem. After taking care of kids, and trying to take care of a home, the situation became more than he could bear. Throughout my high school years there were separations, reconciliation’s, to more separations, and then divorce… and in stepped my “second dad,” my brother.
When our family was in chaos, my brother, Tip (Hermann) stepped in from about the age of 18, to fill the gap of “Dad” in our home. He ran errands for Mom while she worked, became her counselor, and our support system. (Thank you, dear brother. I love you!) Not too long after, he was out of the house, but continued being our support system. He was the best counselor. We didn’t always liked what he said, but we knew there was sound advice in it. And many years later when my husband and I were less than stellar in our parenting attempts, and had a nearly grown child whom we couldn’t reach… he stepped in again, and became a second dad to our precious son. (Thanks again, Tip! You are the best!) (And our son, he’s a great thirty-something kid now!)
Tip was the rock star of our family. He was the cool one who all the cousins wanted to hang with. Of course, I was never allowed to cramp his style. (Still not fair!)
When Tip was in high school he wrote for the school newspaper, and decided to take his talents outside his realm of comfort. He began writing editorials to the local paper, which incited threatening phone calls to a friend’s family whose father had the same name as my brother. ( Sorry Tip, it’s a classic now! Sorry friend. You know who you are!) Tip is one of the reasons why I write. He gives me courage and inspiration to write. Though he’s in a different field today, my brother can still whip up a professional letter, notice, or anything he chooses to write, with precision. I don’t think he writes too many editorials these days (slight jab), but he could it he wanted to. Tip still has a major “Awesome” sign written all over him.
Now, let me tell you about Dad #3. In steps Adam. After my parent’s divorce when I was just out of high school my mom started dating Adam, a man who lived in our neighborhood. I actually knew Adam before my mom did. He lived a couple blocks down from us, and was great friends with our next door neighbors, Thelma and Cecil. Our neighbors, invited Mom and Adam to go out with them one night, and it just stuck. They were always together. This was much to my disliking, though I loved Adam when he wasn’t dating my mom. Wounds were still fresh from my parents’ divorce and I wanted my parents to reconcile. I did not want Adam with my mother.
In walks this little nasty monster, ME. I made every effort at being nasty, and disrespectful to both Mom and Adam. THIS WAS NOT HAPPENING! Needless to say, it did! On November 6, 1976 they married, and I had to deal with it.
Regardless of everything I had done or said, Adam was kind to me. He never said anything nasty, and was always loving and giving. At this point, I had seen the error of my ways. I began to see that life was about accepting what was, and asking forgiveness of those whom I had hurt. And I did. Even then, Adam never gloated or said anything that would indicate he held deep resentment toward me. He just loved me. He loved me through my hurts, and pain, and became a lifeline to me and my family, so many times that I can’t count. We joined our families of three brothers and three sisters, which included two named Brenda Combs. Yes… Adam had a daughter with my name. How perfect was that!
So for twenty-nine years Adam was dad #3…and what an adventure that was. He was funny, witty, kind and just down right silly. He added so much flavor to our family. He was the best grandpa ever to our kids, and he is the only one that they ever knew well. My dad passed away when our kids were young, and they remember him, but didn’t spend as much time with him. They spent time with Adam. Adam is their “Pappaw.”
I’ve lost two of my dads now, but my brother, thankfully, I still have. We don’t get to see each other as often as we used to, but we still talk weekly. I still trust, and respect him, and he is one of the first ones I call when I need advice. All of my “dads” have played a significant part in my life, and I love what they have given to me. There were always ups and downs, but at this place in my life I’ve learned that you cherish the good and leave the bad behind. Leave behind love, like they have.
I love my “three dads,” and this is their story of love and devotion!