“This my dad. A man’s man. I used to tell folks that if my dad couldn’t fix it or rebuild it, it was truly broken. He was everything that was good in my world. My best friend.
Legally, he was my ‘step’ dad. He met my mom when I was 4. I’m 40 now and I don’t recall ever being introduced as his stepdaughter, and I never introduced him as my stepdad. He was simply ‘Dad.’ Not sharing blood didn’t mean a thing to him.
He would go to war for me – every time. He loved me when I didn’t deserve it. I was that typical badass teenager. Boys, drugs, skipping school – the works. I put that man through straight hell. Once my kids became teenagers, I apologized and begged him to take the curse off! He would laugh and say ‘it’s their job to push their boundaries. It’s your job to set them.’
My dad didn’t tell me how to live; he let me watch him do it. So many times he could have thrown his hands up and said, ‘I’m done’ and walked out, but he didn’t. He stayed even long after he and my mother divorced. Every Saturday, I’d drive to his house and we’d drink coffee and talk crap about his neighbors and I’d complain about his grandkids!
I had reached out to a lawyer because I wanted him to officially adopt me. I was going to give it to him on Father’s Day. Unfortunately, it never happened. On May 11, 2020, a week before Father’s Day, my dad committed suicide. He left me a note: ‘Always remember I love you and the grandkids and if there was any way to fix what I’m going through I would.’
A year later, when the smell of coffee and sawdust hits me – it takes me back to his shop. There will never be a day that I don’t miss him and his strong ass black coffee.
To all the dads out there that didn’t have to be – there will be moments when you wonder if you’re making an impact on a child that doesn’t belong to you. Let me be the one to say ‘YES! And keep trying!” Don’t let those teenage years deter you. One day, s/he will wake up and realize that they have a best friend who’s been with them through it all!
And to my dad: I love you and miss you more than you can possibly ever imagine.”
– Dawn Parker