I wanted to give a shout out to my Poppa Ray today. As far as father's go, he's tops in my book. The best part, he chose to be my Poppa. No compulsion involved.
I had a great childhood, but since my parents divorced when I was three years old, there wasn't always a stable second parent in my life. Mom, of course, did a wonderful job and my life has really been a terrific blessing, but my biological father lived seventeen hours away, and I rarely had contact with him. Sometimes, I missed having a father around.
Enter Ray. Mom had been single for a while, and she and I lived in a small apartment together when I was fourteen. She went on one date with this jerk who I really hated. He gave me a slimy feeling, and Mom came home from that date none too pleased with him either. After that, I worried about her dating but I also didn't want her to be alone. Needless to say, I became a little wary when she talked about another guy. However, she often came home from work telling me about the nice complements this man paid her, and she glowed with joy whenever she talked about him. His best line ever, one gorgeous day he told her, "This day is almost as pretty as you are." Hearing that totally melted her heart. Because of this, I decided to give him a chance.
I was nervous to meet him, but I shouldn't have been. I loved Ray from almost the moment I saw him. He went out of his way to include me, and make sure it was okay with me if he continued seeing my mom. Truly, they were meant for each other. It wasn't long before he asked if it was okay for us to all live together.
I don't know how I made it through fourteen years without him. Seriously, I already thought I was the luckiest kid in the world, and within a matter of weeks I had a man who wanted to be my father, and wanted to spend the rest of his life making my mom happy. Perhaps for some people this transition would have been hard, but I don't remember ever resenting sharing him with my mom. I just remember being pleased to finally have a wonderful father.
Poppa Ray used to own a cabin in the mountains, and we spent many a weekend there, merging his family of six kids with my mom's family of six kids. He knew all the great places to go hiking and we went on a lot of day trips to see waterfalls. For my fifteenth birthday he planned a trip to Park City. It was a lot of fun exploring that little town, and I remember we even ate lunch on a second-floor balcony and it was so fun. Around my sixteenth birthday we went on a trip to Las Vegas. All sorts of fun things I don't know if Mom and I would have experienced just the two of us.
He also spent a lot of time encouraging me in any dreams I had (and still does to this day). I've shared this before, but I was raised thinking I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I have the most supportive parents I think it is possible to have. Their faith in me is, perhaps, the best gift they ever gave me.
Time marches on, and Poppa Ray morphed to Grandpa Ray. Then, my kids were the ones who went on hikes in the mountains, spending one week every summer with my parents and their cousins at the cabin--no parents allowed! Poppa Ray always took them on money hunts where they "found" money on a dirt trail. They always came home with so many quarters. I think Poppa was much poorer at the end of the week! So many good memories!
I want to thank you for being my Poppa. All the little notes exchanged back and forth before school and work since we didn't always cross paths, knowing I had a father figure I could count on, and being here for me ever since. There are no words to express my gratitude and love. Thank you for choosing me as your daughter.
I love you lots and lots! ~ The Cute One!