Category Archives: Unconditional Love

My Two Dads

 

This post is part of a Facebook tribute that I wrote shortly after my father Paddy died. It was a tribute to him, and to Norm, the dad who raised me. An adoptee, I met Paddy when I was 48. The first thing he said to me was, “I’ve missed you. I prayed for you every day, and I love you.” I’d missed him too, without knowing it. I’d yearned for my birth mother, and had felt the pain of separation, even though my adoptive parents loved me unfathomably, but I had never really considered a father.

My birth parents looked for me, and they found me: a 48 year old orphan who was separated by distance from the brother I grew up with. None-the-less, I was surrounded by a raucous and loving household which consisted of a husband who is my high school sweetheart and our three offspring, prodigies each in their own way, but that’s another story, and yes I’m super proud of my children, and so were my two dads.

So, how can I explain the deep affection and admiration that I have for my fathers? I am no longer worried that in doing so, I might lessen or disregard the dad who raised me, because I’m not; Norman taught me all that there is to know about patience, and unconditional love. He taught me how to swim, ski, ride a bike, and appreciate the beauty and power of nature. I had years with my first dad to absorb all the good things; he filled up my happiness reserves enough to sustain me when he died, and enough to sustain me even now. Paddy didn’t replace my dad, he simply arrived at a time in my life when I needed another father, especially one who I could love as much as Norm.

. . .

Paddy told me that he regretted not being able to see me after I was born, or say ‘good-bye.’ In the short time that I spent getting to know my new father, I learned the generosity of his love; it is reflected in my beautiful mother Catherine, and in my siblings. Paddy was battling cancer when we met, so I knew there wasn’t time to waste. Saying ‘goodbye’ to him was something that neither of us wanted to do, but at least we got to tell each other how much we loved each other.

I didn’t get to say ‘goodbye’ to my first dad; Norm died suddenly following one of our regular morning phone chats (I live in BC, and he in Toronto). I was flying out with my husband and our kids to visit him the next day. We were devastated. I hope Norm knew how much we all loved him, and what a positive impact he had on me, my brother, and my children. Mostly, I miss my dads, especially on Father’s Day.

A Mother’s Love

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I am going to use a prose that would indicate my first mom is still alive for two reasons: It will make this post more readable, and most important: she is alive and well in my heart. I can see her face and hear her voice and this is so comforting. I’ve posted previously on my adoption and reunion, but I’ve yet to set the record straight as to how much my first mom meant to me and the reasons why. I’m going to call her mom #1 simply because she is the first mom that I can recall, and I know that mom #2 will be okay with this because she is eternally grateful to my first mom for loving me and looking after me when she was not afforded the opportunity to do so. I wish they could have met. They are both so funny and beautiful, and they love life and love their children. I am so blessed.

I want to begin by saying that without a doubt, there is no one on earth, not even your spouse or your children, who love you as much as your mom. I am not minimizing the love of another family member, I am just stating that a mother’s love for her children is unsurpassed as an instinctual and absolute reflection of unconditional love.

Doreen was the was the last of six children in her family born in the small mining town of Haileybury, Ontario during the Great Depression. Her parents both died of tuberculosis when she was a child. Mom was raised by her sister, and left for the big city after high school to pursue a teaching certificate from Toronto Teachers’ College. She finished her career with a degree in Canadian History and an education degree (BA, BEd). Not bad for a girl from Northern Ontario! She spent most of her career teaching Grade Two. I’m talking about teaching six and seven year olds how to read, write, calculate numbers, zip up their own snow suits, tie their own shoes, be kind to others, etc., etc. She loved her students and her job, and she never came home stressed out. She’d be exhausted, but always had time to let my brother Mike and I know how much she loved us: THIS IS WHAT MOMS DO, AND SHE WAS REALLY, REALLY GOOD AT! Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease shortly after she retired from teaching, but as the above photo depicts, she never forgot how much she loved me. So, thank you mom #1 for loving me 🙂

Considering all that I’ve shared about a mother’s love, it should not have been a surprise to discover how much mom #2 loves me. Catherine loved me for decades, without knowing where I was, or knowing who I was. When I was reunited with her we bonded immediately; maybe it’s because I was missing my first mom so much but I don’t think so. I was very protective initially of the relationship that I had with Doreen, and I did not want anyone to replace her. Catherine did not replace her at all, she simply loved me in that unconditional and proud way that moms do. Thank you mom #2 for loving me.

I just hope that my children know how much I love them. It will be hard for them to fathom this until they have children of their own. This is when I truly discovered how much my moms love me.