June 14, 2014

Sunday brings Father's Day celebration

CHICKASHA — This Father's Day, I encourage everyone to remember and celebrate their father, whoever that figure is and take some time to thank them for their support this weekend. My dad and his family have supported me throughout my life and played a significant role in it despite not being biologically related to me and I plan to head home to Texas to spend time with him and the rest of my family this weekend.

    My biological father left my mother and I before I was born, but I was fortunate enough to have someone volunteer for the job. When my mother gave birth to me, the first people to visit her in the Bedford, Texas hospital were her ex-husband, Gary, who I call dad, and his mother, who I call Nana. At 8, when my grandmother on my mother’s side died, my dad’s family became the only family I knew in the North Richland Hills, Texas area, where I grew up, aside from my mom and sister.

Every year for eighth grade graduation, my school celebrated with an awards ceremony and talent show that required formal dress. Since my family didn’t make much money at the time, it was my Nana who took me to the mall to buy a dress and sewed straps on it for me. She also bought my first car for me, which was a ’95 Toyota Corolla, during my senior year of high school with money she’d won in Las Vegas.

When I was included in the Top 12 and Distinguished Achievement Program ceremony right before I graduated from high school, the counselor asked who my parents were so they could mention them when I was called to receive my certificate. I told her my father was Gary. After the awards ceremony, Nana, took us to Cotton Patch Café nearby. While we ate our meal,  I remember my grandmother told me it meant a lot to her that I had recognized her son for his part in raising me.

While I was a journalism student at the University of Texas at Arlington, my dad and his family, as well as my mom, supported me and attended my school events, such as Department of Communication scholarship events and my graduation party.

Beginning a few years ago while I was still in college, Nana's husband, my Granddad became ill with diffuse lewy body disease, a form of dementia similar to Alzheimer’s. Last Thanksgiving, the last Thanksgiving before he died in March, I spoon-fed him his dinner. When he died, dad's sister Linda called me to help write the obituary. When I looked at the relatives they had listed, it warmed my heart to see myself listed among his grandchildren.

After my graduation from college, I had a bit of a rough transition into the real world because I didn't have a job lined up, despite working at my college newspaper and interning through college, and I didn't have a clear-cut plan. Despite this, my family probably had more faith in me than I had in myself at the time for the few months I worked odd jobs to earn some money while I looked for a writing job.

When I found out I was to be a reporter in Chickasha, my parents were initially skeptical of my leaving my hometown and the family and friends I have there, but eventually supported my endeavors to start my journalism career. When I started at the newspaper, I would commute from my aunt and uncle's house in Oklahoma City until I found an apartment. Gary's family even bought kitchen utensils and helped find more furniture for my new apartment that I hadn't had in my college apartment.

Growing up with Gary’s family has taught me to be accepting and kind to everyone as well as the importance of familial support. So, I encourage everyone to thank their fathers for their support this weekend.


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