By Jac Morrison
Home is an anomaly in my life, one that I am not entirely comfortable with. Home is white panels, blue shutters, green grass and a mailbox that spells out a surname that is not my own.
My father does not look like me. He is black eyes and black hair and fingers stained with motor oil calloused deep into his fingerprints. I am blonde hair and blue eyes and hands that tremble in synchronicity with my voice. We are not the same.
Daddy, if you're reading this, I'm sorry.
I know now that love is not defined through blood or last names or the family dinners that always left me feeling out of place. But often the love I received from my father was amok with insecurity. I am a stepchild. A stepchild. A child that does not carry my father's genetics. An outsider by marriage.
My father has 3 children that carry his name. They are beautiful, each owning facial features derived from both of our parents. Our parents. Does that make sense? They are ours. Ours as in mine and theirs. Mine and theirs.
Mine. Theirs. Ours.
My mother reminds me he loves me more often than she expresses her own affection. She never has to remind my sister of his love. She knows his love the way only a daughter could. I am not familiar with that feeling.
I have been angry and envious of the love that comes so naturally for my siblings more often than I care to admit. I have sat at the dinner table with my family, our hands latched together in prayer and even then felt a distance from them. Sat lonely in my room listening to the happy laughter of my family below sharing parts of their day. Felt my stomach drop when strangers told my sister she was definitely her father's daughter. Her father. Hers.
These thoughts wreaked havoc on my childhood. Made myself a stranger in my home. Feelings created by evil step parent tropes, Cinderella and my biological father only calling to remind me that Michael was not my father.
He was wrong.
I have never called my father by his first name. He has always been my daddy. He earned that name through his determination to give unconditional love even when I would not accept it.
I am grateful for my father. I do not have his eyes or his hair or his hands -- but I have his strength, his determination, his loyalty. I inherited his humor. Listened to his vocal inflections and made them my own. I may not have come from his seed, but he is the water and the sunlight and the soil that helped me to grow.
Daddy, if you're reading this, I love you.
Photo Courtesy of Jac Morrison