So back to 1988, when it all began.
The day your children are born is a memory that you carry with you like it was yesterday, no matter how much time passes.
I became a father of a daughter again on March 17, 1990, when Megan was born.
A redheaded Saint Patrick’s Day baby—it doesn’t get much better than that.
Megan was born on a Saturday and I was at an auction just about to bid on what would have been my very first Jeep.
That was not to be as my pager went off just before the auctioneer got to the Jeep and it was time for me to roll.
Megan came into the world in a very fast and furious way, as by the time she was born they hadn’t even finished checking her Mom in.
After Megan was born, several people asked me if I wished she had been a boy.
My immediate response was no, I wanted a healthy baby and God had again blessed me with that.
My version of fatherhood was challenged in 1996, when I got divorced from Kristie and Megan’s Mom.
I had great resolve that I was not going to allow this to change the father I was to my two daughters or how I parented them.
The many miles we logged together for soccer practice and games all over central Pennsylvania gave us so many opportunities to talk to each other and become even closer.
So then I met this fantastic women and my fatherhood skills were even more challenged. I had the opportunity to become a father figure to five wonderful children who had recently lost their dad.
So I went from being a father of two to being a father of seven. Oh and let me add that it was five girls and two boys just like my family. Coincidence? I think not.
Being a father certainly has its challenges but add in being a stepparent, the loss of their father, and the fact that two of them were adopted and now you are really talking. Let’s roll!
The memories you have with your children constantly flash through your mind like a great movie trailer that never ends.
To pick out any one memory that is better than others is difficult as there are so many flashing around.
Days were filled with lacrosse, soccer, baseball, school activities, camping trips to Lake Anna and all of the normal daily things that needed to be done.
I think there may have even been a trip or two or three to the principal’s office and maybe a phone call or two from the police.
The many challenges along the way were more opportunities for me to hopefully improve my fathering skills and make me a better person.
The trips we take annually to the Outer Banks are by far my greatest family memories. Hitting the road at 4:00 am with a Suburban full of kids and our utility trailer full of beach gear in tow made for a fun start to a great week.
The kids are growing up, getting married, advancing their careers, having their own children—yeah, grandchildren. Life is great, right?
Well, that is until June 26, 2017, when I got the dreaded news no one ever expects to hear. You Have Cancer!
Total disbelief! I am a health nut, I work out three day a week, I eat healthy, I run, I ride. I can’t have cancer!
Cancer has certainly impacted my life and my lifestyle. What with a 10 day hospital stay right after the diagnosis, chemo, doctor’s appointments, CT scans, more doctor’s appointments, and of course let’s throw in a radical surgery for good measure.
Nearly two years into it now and still fighting hard every day.
I vowed that I would do whatever I could to maintain as normal a lifestyle as possible given the circumstances.
Has cancer changed my fathering at all? Sure has.
I actually ask my kids for help more often as I am not able to do everything I once could.
They all ask endlessly what they can do to help and are constantly reaching out.
Cancer has impacted my relationship with my children but believe me when I tell you beyond doubt it has only become stronger and deeper.
So with Father’s Day just around the corner, what does that mean to me?
First and foremost, it is a day to celebrate all the father figures that have had a positive impact on me and have taught me so many life lessons that I have hopefully passed along to my children.
It’s a day to reflect on the impact I have had on my children.
Being a father is as much about learning with your children as it is teaching them.
They take you back to simpler days of wonderment and amazement of anything and everything around them.
They slow you down and remind you to enjoy the journey you are on with them—you know the old “smell the roses” saying.
It didn’t matter to me what it was my girls wanted to do or play with, as long as I was right there with them.
I wish I had a dollar for each time one of them would say, “Do again, daddy.” It probably would have been enough to put them through college.
I have been so blessed in my life to be called “Father” and “Step-Father” to seven of the most wonderful children in the world I truly can’t imagine my life without them.
Have we had our challenges along the way? Sure.
But I can tell you this, that’s what made us the most loving, caring and giving family we could possible be not only to each other but to everyone.
Trade that? Not on your life! I have certainly been blessed as a Father!
Oh and by the way I am currently on my third Jeep and Megan has one as well. Now the next chapter—“Grandfather.”
Read Megan’s story below.