“When my father didn’t have my hand, he had my back.” — Linda Poindexter
Today’s column is especially for blended families — those who may wonder if divorce and remarriage is somehow hurtful to the children involved in such adult decisions. When I fell in love and married Burt Lippman, we had concerns about our young daughters — his two and my one.
Such a big change is never smooth sailing for both children and adults involved, but I’d like to think most people do the best they can. I know we did.
I often spend time in my husband’s office and the other day picked up one of the many books Burt brought into our marriage: “Leaves of Grass,” by Walt Whitman. I read this classic years ago, but it has been gathering dust on Burt’s bookshelf for a very long time. When I casually opened the book, a letter fell out — a letter I don’t remember seeing before. Reading it brought me to tears and a couple of smiles. I knew this letter should be shared in case just one dad out there is struggling to raise another man’s children. And yes, I got permission from my daughter. Here it is.
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June 16, 1974, To Burt: When I was young, I sort of lost a father. It was something I couldn’t quite understand. A weekend father is a different thing to handle.
But as I grew older, I began to understand the difference of my friends’ fathers and mine. I grew up a mother’s child, and then one day my mother met you. It seems that day she became a woman again. And thus, you proceeded to court her. I recall the night I met you, and you became special in my life. You brought youth into my tired mother, and you made her something special once again.
With suspicious eyes and careful tongue, I grew to love you. Then dawn awoke, and you became my father. At first, because I was a child intact with memory, my reaction was jealousy. Before my eyes, routine changed, and that began a new way of living. It was scary. So much I was unfamiliar with. Being young and normal, I grasped at the excuse of resentment and played games with you and also with myself. Now I had a father — a full-time father.
These last four or five years have been hard, and many are the times when anger held the cards. So busy was I attempting to grow up. Searching for friendship, success, love and often I ran into so many walls. I just wanted to take the time now to say that through all of this pain, there was also much laughter. You helped me grow up a little easier.
I see my mother…so very beautiful. You’ve made her such a lady, such a vivacious woman. You’ve taught each other to live and laugh, to communicate, and most of all, you’ve given her more love than any man. Together, both of you have survived amidst all of my moods and sorrows, my chatter and my tears. For the first time, I am beginning to like myself. I understand where I am a little better.
Burt, I am 15, that is still a child and there is so much more to go, but these last five years have been the best years in my life, and it’s these years you have been a part of me. Though still a child, I sometimes can be a woman and through both these times you are my father and very much a part of my life. Still a child or a woman, through laughter and tears, I love you so very much. And it’s with these words I wish you a very happy Father’s Day.
Love, Rocki — June 16, 1974.
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Although my daughter was a little reluctant about letting me put her letter in print, she said yes on one condition — that I make sure she gets “Leaves of Grass” when I am no longer here.
Happy Father’s Day to dads everywhere who are doing the best they can for their children — whether the kids are bio or blended.
Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock with her cat, Purrfect. She is the author of “Good Grief: A Collection of Stories As One Woman Journeys From Heartbreak To Healing Through Honesty and Humor.” The book, with all proceeds going to the Rotary International Foundation, is available at JC Market in Newport and directly from Bobbie, who can be contacted at [email protected]