You weren't there to see me born, that cold February morning in Saskatchewan. You never got those first homemade Father's Day cards, and you never got to hear my first word or see my first wobbly steps. But you were there in the future to catch me when I fell.
You entered my life when I had just learned to adjust to not having a father around. When my mother had moved past the tears, past the bitterness and was ready to love again. I was jealous and hurt, and I can't say that those feelings went away the first time we met. Indeed, there were times of anger and frustration that caused those spiteful words "You're not my real father!" to ring through my lips to hurt you deeper than I ever knew.
But there were also times when I wept over the loss of a boyfriend or cried anxious tears when my mother was ill, and you were there to comfort me.
You taught me to look realistically at life but never to give up on my dreams. You taught me I could have both; while I watched Mother and you build your lives together, I realized that dreams could really happen if you were determined to make them grow. You worked hard to give her what she always wanted - a home on a quiet country road. You shared that home with me and made me feel a part of your dream.
When I was in my teenage years and stubborn to spread my wings and leave with the one I thought was true to my heart, you allowed me to go, but you also reminded me that I had a home to come back to. Then six months later, when I was alone and betrayed in a strange city, you came and brought me back, and you never even charged me the gas money. You just said, "Next time you spread your wings, do it a little closer to home."
You have been there to share in my dearest accomplishments. You even sent me flowers backstage on my first opening night when I was 10 years old. And you never brought up the fact that I didn't sing well. To you, I sang beautifully and was the prettiest "bonne Fe" in the history of Cinderella - that you assured me.
When my children were born, I saw you include them in so many wonderful things: trips to the farm to sled in the snow, afternoons out by your pasture to plant their first trees, and fishing excursions to wonderful lakes. The same things you had shared with me when I was growing up.
As they grew, there were trips to farther places: Drumheller for their interest in dinosaurs, Barkerville because they were fascinated by history. You encouraged them to follow their dreams, to look upon the world as a wonderful adventure. You bought them their first two-wheeler and ran alongside of them in case they fell.
You gave them pieces of your past so that they might feel a part of you in them: Stories of your life growing up. An old antique violin when one showed an interest in music. Their first French lesson and the first taste of real maple syrup, straight from the tree.
I don't often get mushy over things of this nature. I realize that we have shared a lot through time - including our love for one very special lady, my mother, your wife.
Perhaps we didn't share the beginning we both wanted. But I think we share something even more special: the continuation of mutual love and admiration and the wonderful knowledge that we didn't have to like each other, but we do anyway. They say you choose your friends but not your relatives, but today, I'm so glad that I have you for both of those roles. Happy Father's Day, Dad.