The Man I Call ‘Daddy’
By: Ireland Lorelei
I was still in so much shock. How could he be here one day and then gone the next? I had just given him a hug and a kiss on his cheek as he left for work and I left for school this morning.
My dad would never see me dressed up for my senior prom, or see my graduate high school next year, he wouldn’t be here to see which scouts came to my games and what colleges I got accepted to. He wouldn’t see any of my college games. He wouldn’t walk me down the aisle or play with his grandkids. I don’t understand why this had to happen. Why did God take him away from me? Why now?
That day will forever be etched in my memory. It was scorching hot outside. The sun was beaming down on the infield making it as hard as concrete. The practice was pretty normal, but we had a huge game the next day with our biggest rivals. About thirty minutes or so into practice a police car drives up and out stepped my mom and an officer. I knew right then that something was wrong with my dad. But I was not prepared for what they were about to say.
They spoke to my coach first and then came out to me on second base, stopping the practice. My whole team met us on that base as they told me he had been in a car accident on his way home from work and didn’t make it. I couldn’t believe it. I knew he wasn’t going home, he was coming here, to my practice. This is my fault, I thought. That was the worst day of my life. He had been the only person who understood me. She didn’t, my mother. She didn’t understand me at all. She didn’t even try to console me. She just stood there crying as my teammates built a tight circle around me. Those closest hugging me. Those who couldn’t have their hands on my shoulders and arms. All of them crying uncontrollably with me. They all loved him. He had practiced with us so much and gave so much help and encouragement to them too.
After the funeral, I had gone back to playing softball, not because I felt like it, or because I wanted to, but because I knew that would make him happy and proud of me. My mom never tried to come to one game, much less practice. I felt so alone. My teammates understood and did their best to keep my spirits up. After practices and games, a few of us would go hang out at the beach or the waterfront for a while. Most weekends my best friend, Mel and I would rotate staying at each other’s houses. Her parents had been a great support.
I woke up on Saturday after school was finished for summer break and just wanted to stay in the bed. It was the first Saturday that we didn’t have practice. The summer softball league didn’t start until next week. Good thing because it was raining outside. It was as if the sky was expressing all of my emotions for me today. I made it to the bathroom and took a shower, brushed my teeth, and headed downstairs to grab something to eat before heading back upstairs to my bed in a clean pair of PJs. I had decided that was the best place to spend my day.
When I got downstairs my mom was already in the kitchen making breakfast. She had gotten out of her own depression. It took me months to realize that the reason she couldn’t console me was because of her own grief. I had to understand that everyone grieved in their own way. Now she was back to being the hands-on mom that she had always been, of course, that was still minus supporting me in sports and we still didn’t have that connection and understanding as mother and daughter should. My dad used to say that it was because we were so much alike and it would come together with the older, I got. Maybe, I would say.
I set down at the bar in the kitchen as she finished cooking. When she was done, she sat beside me and we ate in complete silence. I could tell something was bothering her. After we ate and cleaned the kitchen she asked if I would come to sit in the living room with her for a few minutes, there was something she needed to tell me.
As I sat there listening to her, it was as if everything had gone black. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t breathe. What in the world is my mother saying? I couldn’t even hear her voice anymore. It was as if I wasn’t even in my own body anymore. She had to be lying. There was no way the man that I called ‘Daddy’ was not my daddy. It was exactly one month and four days since my dad passed away and it still felt like yesterday. I was still numb inside. Why would she tell me something like this and why now?
I ran upstairs to my room and locked the door. My mind just went races back through the memories of my childhood, of my daddy. For as long as I could remember I had been a daddy’s girl. My dad and I did everything together. He was my biggest supporter, encourager, motivator, and best friend. From the time I started playing sports, he never missed a game. It didn’t matter how many hours he had worked that day, or what time he got off. Even if he got off late, he would make sure he showed up for the rest of the game. He would get off work during the week and when he was off on the weekends and through the softball with me or shoot hoops with me to perfect both my skills in both sports.
I called Mel some hours later. She came over and we set in my room and talked for hours. She convinced me that I needed to hear my mom out and that she would stay with me if I wanted her to. So, we did.
Mom started to tell the story, “When I met your dad, Ally, I was already pregnant. About fourteen weeks. I wasn’t looking for a relationship. He knew I was pregnant and that I didn’t want a relationship, but he didn’t care. He pursued me anyway. We had been good friends in high school and he just wanted to be there for me. Eventually, that friendship turned into so much more and we became the love of each other’s lives. You were five months old when we got married. He had already signed your birth certificate and in his heart, blood never mattered to him. You were and will always be his daughter. So, he never wanted you to know any different if you didn’t have to. Your biological father was never in the picture. Once he found out I was pregnant, he broke up with me and left. I never saw or heard from him again. Sean never wanted to feel that abandonment. He never wanted you to feel that you weren’t wanted or loved by your father.”
“If dad didn’t want me to know, then why are you telling me now? Why are you ripping my world apart now?” I asked through tears.
“Because he left a letter in the safety deposit box with our wills that I never knew about until after he passed. In the letter, he told me that if anything happened to him before me that I needed to tell you the truth. He wanted you to know that not even death could take him away from you. That he had wanted you before you were born. That he had always wanted to be in your life and that he always would. He wanted you to know that you would never be alone because he didn’t leave you. He knew that you would feel angry like he had left you and you would feel guilty. He also left a letter for you,” she said as she handed me an envelope through her own tears.
I took the envelope and looked at Mel for strength. I opened it and read it silently to myself. And everything she had said he had left in her letter, he left in mine. He apologized for not being the man I thought he was, my father, but he was so blessed and honored for me to call him ‘Daddy’.
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