Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On Father's Day: A Dad, his Ex Wife and his BF, and the Children who Love Them

Dear Friends,

I hope you enjoyed Father's Day this year. I cannot tell you how I did, but I'll try.

I had naively hoped for something like this once upon a time, for a life in which my former wife and male life partner would get along in harmony while surrounded by happy children who knew that, despite their family's non-traditionalism, knew the love of both parents and not only survived but thrived.

Then again, perhaps I was not so naive. Perhaps it was a valid hope and a reasonable goal, despite the church's rhetoric, in spite of my family's failure to understand. Because, pretty much this is what has happened.

I had to work on Father's Day this year, as I often do. But at 3:30 I left the restaurant and headed for home. Gin was already driving south with the boys and Brian was driving toward the campsite to get the boat ready. Everything was in motion as natural as the movement of the stars.

We enjoyed hot dogs and burgers on the grill and some ultra silly conversation around the table, followed by a boat ride with Captain Bri and the boys. No Thunderstorms interrupted the inner tubing that ensued on the Susquehanna that afternoon. No storms at all, not even an emotional cloud over anyone's head. Brian and Gin chatted away about work and friends. The boys enjoyed the sun while I just bathed my tired self in the presence of these five precious people and mused on how lucky I was to have come so far with this odd ball family that seems to astound doctors, teachers and family members alike.

But was it truly luck? I guess not. I worked hard for years. I was smart while being stupid. I knew I was attracted to men, but I at least knew enough to marry a good woman, one who knew that her children would be far more important than any difference between her and me. I also worked hard in that relationship after its separation to ensure that our boys saw only two parents who loved them above all else and refused to use them as weapons to hurt the other. I took some blame for things that were not my fault simply because the history books would not be so important to me as the feelings in the hearts of those three boys and the memory of a dad who treated their mother with respect and insisted that they do the same.

It's true. You cannot control another human's actions, but you can make great efforts, as the old book says to "as far as it be possible with you, live at peace with all men," or in this case, with one woman who had the misfortune to marry a man with a secret that he couldn't even reveal to himself. She's a good person and maybe that is my only luck. But we've worked hard to be good parents and to be good to each other for their sake when we couldn't do it for our own. Now we can do it for all of us, simply because it's right and natural.

I've heard so many horror stories of other men who were not so fortunate, and I've been through some haunted, horrendous moments in my own story, involving hospitals and courts and angry relatives, but ultimately perhaps you really do reap what you sow. Lord knows both of us tried to do our best.

And that Father's Day afternoon and evening with my family on the river was actually a dream come true that both of us had prayed and bled and prayed for. Maybe it took a decade to do it. But when I looked at the faces of our sons and felt the air of complete honesty and comfort of the five of us that day, I knew it was worth it, that we had made the best decisions we could have made when the time came to make them, and that for all of that, our world was a better place. Maybe not the one we once dreamed of, but an honest one. A good one.

I hope your Father's Day brought some good to your soul.

David, father of three, grateful and loved by more than I thought possible

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