When I was very young, I met a man named Mike. The story goes, my mother and a lot of friends (political activists) were on a bus. They were traveling from Cincinatti to somewhere sort of close by. Mike asked a mutual friend George, who the cute woman was sitting on the other side of George. My mother, asked a mutual friend George who the cute man was sitting on the other side of George. George, got up so that Jody and Mike could sit next to each other.
The story keeps going. My mom, was a single mom after I was about 1 year old. When she met Mike on the bus, she talked about me. Mike tells me now, that I ran right up to him when I met him and he loved me instantly. Even though I was quite young, I have tiny snippets of scenes from the wedding. That I could run under tables still, that I could hide easily and that there was a lot of light blue. About a year or so later, my little sister Mara was born. Mike, was my dad from the moment I met him and still is.
There are many memories following that. Being the second oldest of 12 kids, my dad was very good with kids. He was the one who took care of us when were sick. I remember being on the top bunk, with a belly ache. My dad slept on the bottom bunk to make sure that I would be okay. I was reading a book about Seals (how do I remember these things?) and I leaned over to tell him that I didnt feel so good and I barfed on his face. (Sorry dad) But he took it in stride and made me feel better.
When my first boyfriend broke up with me, he consoled me with “Honey, you wont remember how much this hurt years from now. Plus, you guys are going to get back together.” He was right on both counts, it happened several times. Im like totally turning red here, remembering how many times I played “Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox. How I went from listening to Ice Cube, Pixies, Annie Lennox, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Prince, Tribe Called Quest and The Cars in like one week is beyond me. Hilarious.
He still has my drawings from when I didnt know that I wanted to even be a designer yet. 5th grade I was making patterns and designing dresses. And he still has those pictures.
But the best memory? When I was 6 or 7. My mother and father asked me a question, “Do you want your Dad to adopt you?”
“Adopt? What do you mean?”
I had forgotten. Im sure they mentioned it sometimes. But I had blocked out that there was someone else before him. My father’s family greeted me as if I was a newborn when I was a toddler. My Nana and my Grandpa never once mentioned that we werent related. I belonged to them, I always had. My father, made the adoption feel special, and it was. He would joke that he married my mom because of me, sometimes he would tell me that he found me in a dumpster (I thought this was funny), or that I was a special at Kmart. He was always meant to be my dad.
Even now, I forget. We comment on how Henry might have my Nana’s eyes. All of us forget. For that I am thankful. For that and for many other reasons, we want to adopt our next child.
So dad, I dont know if you will be reading this but I want to thank you. For the following things:
1. Clearing the floor at a school dance (where you were a chaperone) and doing the “Tequila” dance by Pee Wee Herman. Humiliating at the time, but story worthy later.
2. For keeping the report I wrote about you “The Man I Most Admire”.
3. Working so hard, along side mom, along side your friends, fighting for workers rights. Fighting against the Klan. You know in general just fighting against the “man”.
4. For saving my artwork when I didnt know its value.
5. For being proud of me.
6. For running down the hill at Camp Llewoh with the entire population of a bee hive all over you and Mara and jumping in the lake to save her (and me the allergic one).
7. For letting me cry for hours and hours as we drove from that summer camp in NH to PA when we lost Jesse. For letting me see you cry too.
8. Thank you for scaring the crap out of that bully when I was 6. I dont remember what you said but he never said another word to me again.
9. For asking about my cute mom, on that bus so long ago.
10. For loving me and never once, not even in the heat of the teenage girl and dad verbal battle ever once implying that I wasnt 100% yours. I love you.
You are the man I most admire.