Our goal with this blog is to laugh about the things we can not control. It is also to look back and smile and laugh at ourselves for being who we are. Today though I’m going to talk about something sad. Forgive me? There are only a few people in my life that have absolutely loved me unconditionally exactly the way I am. They have NEVER asked me to change for them in any way. Three hundred sixty five days ago one of those people passed away. It is interesting how people call their biological fathers their “real” fathers. Our society seems to expect us to have some blind loyalty to people who donated their DNA to us even if they do not fulfill their roles. Actions always speak louder than words on paper, I say. While I am grateful that my birth father gave me life, the man that really made me feel like a daughter was Bob Howell (legally referred to as stepfather but I call him Daddy). There are humans that roam this earth that are really special. Daddy was one of those people. He was just GOOD. Anyone you speak to will tell you that – it’s just not my opinion. He married my mother when I was around 10 and I had no clue about my birth father so I just assumed this US soldier was my father coming back from war. It was 1974 when I met him and I was not the only kid who was seeing her “father” for the first time. The Vietnam Conflict like so many wars produced a lot of babies. My mother was never forthcoming with information so I was left to assume. This soft-spoken Southerner with kind eyes and an Elvis smile made me feel so secure and safe from the get go. He gently played with me and listened intently even though the language I spoke was gibberish to his ears. Still he would try to figure out what I was saying and let me lead. He never once raised his voice to me. NOT. ONCE. He never had to. I had the utmost respect for him. I remember how my heart broke the one time he said, “I’m disappointed in you.” I never repeated that transgression and was careful to always think before I acted out after that. He hardly bragged about me but it was obvious he was proud of my academic accomplishments. He would look at my report cards and quietly say, “Wow Bridgey – that is something. Do you feel good about it?” He was the only person in my life that ever asked me how I felt about anything. He is the one that taught me it was better to laugh about stuff than to stomp around and yell. He was born poor and died not much richer but he never complained about ANYTHING. I’m not just putting him on a pedestal – this is absolutely the way he was. Even while suffering from lung cancer which spread all over his body, he never whined about the pain or complained about anything. My mom, his wife, was cuckoo for Coco Puffs and he never complained about her either. It was just not in him. He was not perfect but he was the calmest soul I ever met. I needed that in my life. I realize now that he was my anchor. When he died I spiraled down down down deep into a depression. I have never felt so lost. I know he would be so disappointed to know I allowed myself to wallow like that. Don’t worry Daddy – I’m okay now. Today I honor you with a smile and a laugh. I promise to try to walk proudly, parent calmly and always stop to look at the simple wonders of nature like you did. Thank you for being in my life and teaching me to become a better person. Thank you for loving me even though I was not “blood” and never ever making me feel less than. Thank you for letting me care for you during the last days of your life. It was an honor. I miss you Daddy but I am okay because you raised me well.