IMG_0693I lost my father last year. But technically I lost him a very long time ago. It’s no secret that my father and I weren’t close. We spoke only twice in two decades. I envied other people’s fathers – the kind of fathers I had seen in the movies or watched on TV. I grew up hoping Ward Cleaver would magically appear at my doorstep, ready to throw a ball around and then help me with a little homework before tucking me safely into bed at night. But alas, that was never to be.

When I met Jason, and fell madly in love, I knew that his family would become mine. I had long since given up on the perfect family fantasy and had no preconceived notions that I would somehow inherit the father figure I was so badly missing, and it’s a good thing too because when Jason’s father and I were first introduced oil and water had nothing on us!

Lance is a strong willed, hardworking man who is extremely passionate and protective of his family. I don’t think he pictured (much less hoped for) the loud mouthed, stubborn, opinionated person that his son had brought home – for keeps.

It took years, years for us to find common ground. I think we both wanted to ignore how much we were alike, how much we had in common, and how much we wanted the same things after all.

One-day Lance’s library flooded, a prized collection of priceless literature was falling into ruin. My heart sank for him. I ran up to his house and began fanning books open, attacking Mother Nature with towels and hair dryers with as much positivity as I could muster. We spoke very little as we scrambled to save what we could. And apparently we didn’t need to, because everything seemed to change after that.

I tore three tendons in my right hand and needed help covering the medical bills to fix it. Lance covered me. I was legally blind but couldn’t afford corrective eye surgery. Lance helped me. We needed to move into his house to provide the best environment for our family, his grandsons. Pappy Lance let us in. When I need advice, encouragement, a kindred spirit, the occasional pat on the back, a kind word… Lance supports me.

Lance turns 75 tomorrow and I am privileged to celebrate such a monumental moment with him.

I never thought, in a million years, that I’d find my Ward Cleaver. And I still haven’t. I found something even better:  a Dad, a real life Dad and it’s way better than anything I ever dreamed of.

Happy Birthday Pappy. I love you.