As you know by now, I’ve had numerous father figures in my life throughout my youth. This week, focusing on stepfathers has brought back a lot of memories for certain.
While I was in my junior year of college, I received a call from my mother saying her relationship with my stepfather, Danny, was over due to circumstances that had become unbearable. It was a difficult call for me as a son. All I wanted to do was come home, get a job, and help to take care of my mother and sisters.
Mother, knowing how much college had meant to me, refused to let me do that and told me to keep the course saying she would be OK. Over the next few years, life was tough for her and my sisters, but she did, indeed, make it OK.
After leaving graduate school for a position in California, I quickly married within a year and life was off and running. It was difficult to stay in touch with mother due to the distance and there was no Facebook back then.
During that time, she had met and fell in love with BJ (short for his full name). I don’t remember much from that time because I only made it home once every year or two as money was scarce. But, I do remember that BJ came at a perfect time and brought joy to my mother.
After they married, BJ filled the place of dad in my sister’s lives providing a home, cars, security, and love. He’s been a mechanic most of his life and ran his own business, so taking care of the cars for my sisters, and me occasionally, was no problem.
The family in Michigan moved to BJ’s home which is just outside of town and has his garage on the property. It’s a beautiful place with ten acres and a pond they have worked on improving over the years into something you would see in a park.
It’s been nearly thirty years they’ve been together. My two sisters both moved onto their own lives; one in Seattle and one in California. Mom, an avid photographer, loves the property where she can go for walks and take pictures of nature right in her own back yard (I think she is where I got the photog bug from). BJ still runs his auto repair shop and has a reputation for honesty, integrity, and friendly service everyone in town would confirm wholeheartedly.
He is a simple guy. He likes hunting, fishing, cars, watching Nascar, and the occasional remote controlled plane to fly around. The example he’s set through the years has enforced some great values in me.
His unwavering support of me during the most difficult time of my life stands out the most. Among the others, his honesty in business, dedication to his work and my mother, his willingness to go the extra mile when most wouldn’t, and his being a father to my two younger sisters are all high on the list.
BJ isn’t one of those guys who lives in the clouds. No, he lives in the here and now. His slightly cynical sense of humor is contagious. His ability to see beyond what most people see as surface level is something I admire.
My only regret, that I haven’t been near enough to home to be closer to him and my mother after everyone has gone onto their own lives in other states. But, knowing he is there, gives me peace of heart and mind that my mother will be OK.
So, tonight, here’s to you BJ for your love for the family, sacrifice, support in one of the most difficult times of my life, and for being there consistently all these years. Here’s to all stepfathers who can, and do, the same. Hat’s off to you all…!
Love always friends,