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Father#8217;s Day has double meaning for me

Father’s Days of late have been rather bitter sweet for me.

I lost my dad in October 2004. This will be my second Father’s Day without him.

But I also am very fortunate in that I have another man in my life who I honor on this day — and all the other days of the year for that matter.

He’s my stepfather, Dan.

Dan and my mother married oh, so many years ago when I was a young man, stationed far from home in the Air Force.

I was so far away that I didn’t even attend their wedding. Come to think of it, I don’t even recall receiving an invitation. But that’s fodder for another day.

When Dan and my mother married they instantly became a family of seven. My two younger sisters and little brother were still living at home. My older brother was away at college.

And boy, did they disrupt this man’s life.

I can only imagine what it must have been like to be him, having lived so many years as a divorced man with a grown child of his own (although he didn’t live with him), and in the blink of an eye he had all these strange people living in his house.

I have a bit of a feeling of what that’s like, having been a stepfather for a time myself.

But here he was, the head of the household, a household full of teens or near teens. And believe me when I say my siblings were not angels.

Don’t get me wrong. They weren’t bad kids, never got in trouble with the law or got into drugs or anything like that. But it’s one thing to raise your own children and another to get them this way.

But when it came time to step up to the plate, Dan did just that.

He made it clear what was acceptable under his roof and what he would not tolerate. And sometimes, my brother and sisters actually listened to him.

He’s a good and honest man. And he’s the kind of man who doesn’t pull any punches, which is good when you are dealing with youth.

I have learned a lot from this man. We all have.

We have laughed at his silly jokes, at times hearing them for the second, third, or maybe even fourth time. But even then, when he tells them, they are funny.

He’d rather be tinkering around the house or working in the yard more than anything in the world.

Every time he comes to visit us, or one of my siblings, he takes a tool kit so he can fix squeaky doors, unstick clogged drains or sharpen kitchen knives.

He’ll try to fix almost anything before taking it to a repair shop. And some times he’s very successful. And although the appliance or whatever it was no longer looks like it did when it came out of the box, at least it still works after he has tinkered with it.

We have a blue, pie-plate clock hanging in our kitchen as testament to his handyman abilities. He had a clock mechanism lying around, and rather than throw it out, he glued numbers to the plate and attached the motor. And it keeps time as well as any other time piece we have. Maybe even better.

But what I really respect most about this man is that he loves my mother. And it shows.

They are both in the mid-70s, and at times they still act like teenagers out on a date.

He isn’t the most outwardly affectionate man in the world, except when he’s around my mother or their dog(s). But that’s OK. That’s who he is, and we respect that.

Next to my father, he is one of the finest men I have ever known.

I look forward to seeing him, although it isn’t often enough. And when he leaves, I am always sad to see him go.

But I always know he is only a phone call away, or now, since we moved to Suffolk, only about four hours by car. Perhaps now we can see him and my mother more often. Until then, happy Father’s Day Dan. We love you.

Grant is the managing editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. Contact him at doug.grant@suffolknewsherald.com, or call 934-9603