Denise DuBois: To all the father figures in life, you matter

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Father’s Day is this weekend. Growing up, I used to not think too much about this day because I never had a reason to. Unfortunately, like many children, my biological father was never in my life. I have pictures of my one-year-old self sitting on his motorcycle as he drove down the road holding me on his gas tank, but no memories of us ever being together.

I had an amazing grandfather. Everyone knew him as “Red” Johnson. I knew him as Grandpaw. For the beginning of my life, I lived on the same property as him. I distinctly remember running from my house to his in the afternoons for cheese and crackers. He always had them ready for me. He’d even let me salt the top of his PBR as he put his thumb over the opening.

One day, I ran to his house and got glass in my foot. I hopped the rest of the way. Grandpaw saw me coming and rescued my foot from the shards. Once I got my finger stuck in a hole on the top of a shovel from a sandcastle set I was playing with.

“Looks like we’re going to have to cut it off,” he said referring to my finger. I panicked, but he was kidding.

He and I talked a lot about his time in World War II and when he worked at Idle Hour Park putting skates on people’s feet. I always told him to take care of himself. I wanted him to be around when I got married and had children. He told me the same thing.

My grandfather died a few years ago. He was the father figure I had in my life growing up.

Twelve years ago, my mother married Mike. Goodness that man drives me crazy. He’s goofy, plays practical jokes, scares me to death whenever he can and always, always makes me laugh. He taught me how to drive a motorcycle and shoot a shotgun. He’s talked to me at midnight when I couldn’t sleep and he calls me just to say “hello” when he realizes that it’s been a while. Mike has made me tough.

He’s done all the things that a dad should do for his kids. That’s why Father’s Day is a little more special to me now than it was when I was growing up. Every year, I ask him what he wants for Father’s Day. He always responds with, “Nothing.” He doesn’t need anything and he doesn’t want anything. I usually end up getting him a gift card for food because he and mom will always go out to eat.

Even if your dad doesn’t want anything, find a way to show him how much he means to you this Father’s Day. Men have an important role in the family and in the lives of their children. They offer a different perspective than a mother and, if they’re like mine, are full of fun. I’m thankful that this coming weekend is special because I get to celebrate a special dad (no “step,” I’ll claim him to be the real thing). If you have a special father figure in your life, send us some photos and tell us about him. We’re happy to show some love and publish a few.

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