Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Three Dads

Today is Fathers Day. I've been thinking about this most of the week (in my own obsessive way) because I knew, since I'd posted a tribute on Mothers Day, I'd have to post a tribute on Fathers Day as well. But unlike my Mothers Day post, which just talked about my one and only mother, I knew this post wouldn't be complete and true without paying tribute to the three important "Dads" in my life--all of whom have had a profound impact on my life and who I am. So first my "real" dad:

Daddy with his girls
Daddy was born in Selma, Alabama the son of a car mechanic and housewife. His father, my Grandpa Bill, got as far as the 8th grade before he had to work to help out his family; Bess, my grandmother, had to leave school in 6th grade for the same reason. My father was their only child and the first in the family to graduate from high school. He was a pilot at the tail-end of World War II, and then became an airline pilot. That's how he met my mother, who was a stewardess. They fell head-over-heels in love, started a family and he became an air traffic controller so he wouldn't have to be away from us. That's the kind of Daddy he was. He made pancakes and bacon on Sunday mornings, told us stories about what all our stuffed animals and dolls had done during the night to keep him awake. Once our canary (who was quite ill-tempered) escaped his cage. I remember he sat up in the huge oak tree in our backyard all night with Tweetie's cage and a flashlight, calling him. And wouldn't you know, the bird came back! He loved animals and art and his girls--my mother, my sister, and me. On the rare occasions we had a hard freeze in Florida, he'd run the sprinklers all night so my sister and I would wake up to a sparkling, frozen fairy land. When I was six and a half, he and three other men in our neighborhood were carpooling home from work at the airport. It was a foggy night. They were all looking forward to getting home from their families. They were all killed by a drunk driver, including Daddy. Four young families were devastate in every sense of the word. The drunk driver broke his nose and his kneecap.
John with me & my sister

Nine very difficult years later, John Cox, my stepfather, came into our lives. The thing about John was, he never tried to replace my father. He knew how much we all (including my mother) missed him, even nine years later, what kind of man my father had been. He gave us all a safe, stable place to be ourselves. I will be the first to say, I was not the easiest kid to live with! I resented having to share my mother with him. I tested him and refused to call him "my stepfather" for years. I referred to him as "my mother's husband." But John never pushed. He respected me and gave me lots and lots of room. Most importantly, he healed my mother. He made her happy in a way my sister and I simply could not. This would be something I would come to greatly appreciate several years later after I went away to college. One of my best memories is coming home from college on break and just hanging out with John and my mother in the living room at night, listening to them talk. I was enveloped in a sense of safety. Years later, John and I kept vigil together as my mother lay dying, in a coma, in the hospital. I'll never forget him saying to me, "I know your father was the love of her life. I just felt honored to have know Bill Pyron through your mother. She's been the love of my life." John has been my role model of being a step-parent when I was lucky enough to marry into kids. I don't know that I've done as good a job as he did with us, but I try. I'm very, very proud to say with a great deal of respect and love that he's my stepfather.

Madison, Brian, Shay
Todd, Super Dad!
The other "dad" in my life is my husband, Todd. When Todd and I met twelve years ago, I'd been single for ten years. During that time, I'd actually made a point of not getting involved with men who had children. But Todd was different. I always tell people, I first fell in love with the father Todd was to his children and then with the man. I mean, this is a guy who saved all of his children's baby teeth! When he showed them to me, I just melted inside. He was a card-carrying Girl Scout den mother,  a soccer mom, and his kid's best friend. He sewed their Halloween costumes. His kids were and still are his greatest passion in life. An empty nest has not been entirely comfortable for him! He loves me dearly, I know. But his kids are the core of his being and the light of his life. And that's the way it should be. He's never happier when the kids are here at the house. Yes, I know it sounds Freudian and all that crap, but he is the kind of father I know my father would have been if he'd lived.

So I send this tribute with great love and respect to all the dads--living and not, biological and otherwise--that made us who we are. Happy Father's Day, Daddy, John, and Todd.


  1. A wonderful, moving post, Bobbie. Thanks for sharing. (this is Mike Jung, btw)