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Lost: One Father

I always knew I’d speak at my father’s funeral.

It’s a morbid thought, I know. But I was sure I’d deliver his eulogy. See, he’s a fascinating man — passionate and charismatic, the kind of guy who seems to have lived several lives in the space of one. A dozen careers. Hundreds of adventures. Thousands of friends.

And my father taught me how to write. By turning me on to cunning authors and forcing me to rewrite shoddy school essays, he helped shape my voice. We share a love of style, an ear for rhythm.

So I assumed that when the time came, I’d need to squelch my own sadness, stifle my tears, and sum up the substantial capacity of this man’s character. The notion scared me half to death myself. I spent years wondering what I’d say to honor such a life and whether I could do it justice.

But I don’t wonder that anymore. Now I just wonder if anyone will tell me when he dies.

Technically, he’s not my dad; he’s my stepdad. But he was a real father to me for 30 years. He coached me in table manners and protected me from bullies. He donned a grass skirt to man the grill for my Sweet 16 backyard luau. He wrote a poem for me and read it aloud at my wedding.

That day — the day I got married — he was already one year into a secret love affair with a woman who was not my mother. The liaison lasted 12 years before Mom discovered it.

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