What to Do When You’re Not Daddy’s Little Girl

I know this is a little late, but I have been thinking about this topic for a while, especially now since Father’s Day just passed. My story is long and sorted, so I’ll just say that I was estranged from my father for the majority of my life. Only in recent years have we reconnected, and the bulk of my reconnection is really with his sister who is only a few months older than I and his mother. There’s actually a cousin who I’m also friendly with on facebook who is an amazing photographer. Anyway, suffice it to say that he, my birth father, will not be walking me down the aisle.

So who should? My grandfather who, for all intents and purposes, served as my dad passed away in 2008. He was a character, and he gave me a great sense of direction and the ability to joke with anyone, but he was definitely a grandfather and not my daddy. My great-uncle was more like my dad than anything. As a child, he’d take me to breakfast at the diner with his business associates and to the Shriner circus, since he himself was a fez-wearing member. We went camping at the local country club campgrounds and he’d spoil me with little treats when he came home from his business trips. He often told my mother “not to come over without that baby!” and told me things that I didn’t like to eat, like cottage cheese, were foods that I should try because they were good for my “globicles”. He is a father. Sadly, he is also a very sick man who will not be able to make the trip to my wedding. Frankly, even if it were in his very backyard I’m not sure he’d be well enough to attend.

Though there is a part of me that is really sad that my pseudo-dad can’t be the one giving me away, there is an amazing silver lining. Nobody ever said it has to be your father who gives you away. And what is being given anyway? I’m almost 30, the jig is up – I don’t belong to anyone other than myself. But I do like tradition. Some traditions, like those of a Jewish wedding, have the bride escorted by both her parents because it is they who shaped her and made her the person she is. Because of this, I’ve decided to have those who have shaped me walk me to my man: both my mother and grandmother will escort me down the aisle.

My mother is important to me, though I can admit that our bond is not as strong as I would hope. I think now that I’m an adult I’m able to see her for who she is and love her for her qualities instead of having ill feelings because of her faults – and that gives us the room that we need to grow closer. Regardless of what we’ve gone through, she is a big part of me and I see that more and more each day. She is my ability to whip up a meal out of nothing more than leftovers and a spice rack. She is my steady hand that allows me to decorate cupcakes in cute and intricate ways. She is my creative eye that affords me the ability to contribute tons of cute crafty ideas to my big day. And I love her for all of that.

But she didn’t raise me, not completely anyway. She had a hand in it, but my grandmother was there at dance recitals and band concerts. Grama, as I call her, is kind-hearted and gentle in her soul. She has suffered more pain than most should ever have, but I am her joy, her greatest accomplishment as she’ll tell anyone who asks. Her unofficial 6th child, I had every opportunity she worked for me to have and I barely appreciated them at the time. Looking back, I can see how her sacrifices afforded me the ability to make something of myself. Not having her by my side would feel incomplete. I am so grateful for the love that she has always shown me, and knowing that I’m “the love of her life” has always pushed me to reach for the brass ring to do her proud.

I may not be a daddy’s girl, but I have been so lucky to have wonderful people, be them birth parents, surrogate fathers or ancillary mothers, who have raised me to be a proud and self-sufficient woman. When I walk with them on my arm, or present in my heart, on my wedding day, I’ll know that everything I am and everything that I’m offering to my husband came about because of them.

Thanks for reading. – A


June 21, 2011. Tags: , , . 2011.

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