Tag Archives: love

He Chose to Love Us

He came to meet my mom on Thanksgiving Day.  He joined us for dinner, and afterwards he took my mom out on their first date. He came back on Friday and gave my brother and I both a model car kit for us to put together.   When we told him we did not  know much about cars (we were 10 and 8 at the time) he took us out on Saturday to have cheeseburgers and to go look at cars.

Less than a month after this set of events, he and my mom got married.  To this point we had been raised solely by my mom, with occasional help from my grandmother and grandfather.   My grandfather, who we called Papi, was the only male influence in our lives.

We asked him what he wanted us to call him, since he and my mom were married now.  He said we could call him Don.  We asked if it was OK if we called him Dad, and for the next 35 years he was our “Dad.”

People were often confused about our relationship.  We never called him our stepfather – he was our Dad.    He never talked about his stepkids, we were his “boys.”  So when they called him “Mr. Bullis”  or they thought we were the “Simpson” boys, we just shook it off and kept on going.

Life was not always easy with this new relationship.  At times we were quite downright ornery with him, and I regret that to this day.   While our friends played on Saturdays, we were fixing up used cars to resell or collecting scrap metal for extra money for the family.  We had chores to do everyday before my mom and dad got home.  We were not allowed to have the TV on during the day and had to keep ourselves busy. We had an old swimming pool in the backyard that needed to be torn down and filled in.  Guess who did it?  Yep, my brother and I.

So was he a tyrant?  As kids we thought so.  But when we change out a clutch in a car, rebuild our brakes, or do major repairs around the house now, we have him to thank for our acquired skills.  When I find myself working my rear end off on a project, I know I got my work ethic from him.

After my dad passed a way a few years ago my brother made an amazing statement.  I don’t remember the context, but he said that the most important thing that he learned from my dad was how to love.  What an awesome legacy.   And my brother was absolutely right.

You see, he did not have to love us.  He loved my mom, and we came with the package.  Too many step-parents don’t realize that much of what they see in their new spouse is the love that they have for their children.  My dad chose to love us.  He chose to call us his boys.  He chose be our dad.    And that is what he will always be to me.  My dad.  I had a biological father that I don’t really remember all that well since he left when I was less than two years old.  But my dad was there as I grew up, got married, and had a family of my own.

Today my dad would have been 80 years old.  I wish he was still around to see what my life has become.   I wish I could share with him the joy of being a grandpa.  I want to show him how I built my raised garden beds from the lumber of the deck that I tore down.  He probably would have shown me how to do it better, but I would have loved the feedback.

Three days from now will be Fathers Day.  I don’t need a special day to remember him.  He remains in my heart every day.    I miss you Dad.



What if it were true?

The whole Mayan calendar craze has been kind of fun to watch. It really amazes me that so many people have taken it seriously and have planned for their lives to end in just a few short days. But I started to wonder, what if it were true? If it were true, and you had just a few days left, what would you do? Assume that money and travel were not an issue. Is there any unfinished business you would want to take care of? Any relationships that need mending?

I spend this last weekend with my wife visiting her brother, who is suffering from mesothelioma and developed pneumonia. The doctors had his wife call all the family to come and see him. because the time is short. As I write this he has been sent home under hospice care. My wife had taken the opportunity earlier in the year to visit and share feelings and memories. Other family members had not had that opportunity, so this was the chance to visit one last time.

So why do we wait? Why is it that we wait until the last moment to take care of important things? When death is sudden, the opportunity to say the unspoken things or do the undone things is gone in an instant. So many people regret the opportunity to say the last goodbye or the last I love you. Maybe it was an unspoken apology.

My dad passed away 7 years ago this month. We spoke several times a week, and our conversations always ended with an “I love you.” I am so glad that I said it during our last phone conversation because he passed away suddenly and without warning. He was found on the back porch by one of his neighbors. At his memorial service I had spoken to several of his friends and church members that he had met during his short time in East Texas They had worked with him for a long time to get him to get over a lot of resentments in his life. He lived a hard life, and a lot of people hurt him and took advantage of him. As a result, he was quick to take offense in even very minor incidents. My brother and my dad did not speak during the last 4 years of his life. An innocent misunderstanding during my moms funeral led them to not talk to each other.

I was unaware that my dads friends had convinced him to let old grudges go and he was beginning to make efforts to make amends before he died. He actually called my brother a few times before his heart attack, but my dad was never one to leave voice mail messeages. My brother, unfamiliar with the phone number on the call list, never returned the call. We were sitting at the dinner table at my house when somehow I mentioned my dads phone number. My brother realized that it had been my dad calling and it really hurt him to know he missed the opportunity to reconnect.

So what is on your list to fix? If the world really ended on 12/21 would there be any unfinished business you did not take care of? There is never a better time to start taking care of that list like NOW. I know that I have some unfinished business I need to finish. Tell the people you love that you love them. Hug your kids. My hopes and prayers are that every parent that lost a child in Connecticut had that opportunity before sending their kids to school on Friday.