A friend of mine, MaryAnne R., wrote a touching tribute to her step-father, Sam, who literally stepped up to the plate to rear four children plus a foster child of a grieving widow of 33, Mare’s mom.
Mare’s biological father died unexpectedly during surgery to replace a heart valve. She was only a 10-year-old at the time. His death hit her hard and filled her with regrets; she hadn’t had a chance to say good-bye, and tell him she loved him.
Once her mother started dating, Mare discovered she was dating a friend’s Uncle Sam. In just under a year he went from being the unknown Uncle Sam to daddy. After he was married into the family, he emphasized to the four siblings that he had no desire to replace their biological father; he just wanted to be there for them and to take care of their mother. Mare, being the second youngest, was the first to call Sam, “daddy.” She and Sam bonded in a unique way.
This memoir is filled with loving memories of the impact of two loving fathers on a young girl. Yes, there were plenty of rough spots, but overall, this is a positive account of the importance of a loving dad. The stories are candid, well organized, and heartfelt. The author’s mother has said often that she found her love with her first husband, and her soul mate with her second. It wasn’t long before Sam was not only Mare’s daddy, but also her friend. He supported her, encouraged her to follow her interests and her heart. He was even instrumental in knocking down the barrier she had set up between herself and her mother when she was a teenager. She learned how to relate to her mom as adult to adult with his help. It changed her perception and their relationship forever, for which Mare is grateful today.
When Sam came to their home, the four siblings were aware he limped. They soon discovered he was an amputee. He lost his leg when he was only fifteen when a broken leg had gotten infected. “There are so many funny stories about [Sam] and his [prosthetic] leg. We found humor in all that went with Dad and his leg mishaps.” There are a lot of funny stories in the book, but one short one is my favorite. Sam was playing, rough-housing, with Mare’s two brothers in their upstairs bedroom when they jumped up and challenged him, “You can’t catch us!” They were running down the stairs when they heard a thump, thump, thump behind them. Sam had gone down the stairs on his belly to catch up with them. He even caught one of the boys! Now, that’s determination and adaptation.
The author closes this tribute with reminiscences of her daddy’s final year. MaryAnne had been married a few years with two sons and a daughter, when her mom called her to come over and talk with them. Medical tests showed that Sam had lung cancer. He was dying. He was immediately put on oxygen and started radiation treatments. The final segment of the book concentrates on that final year where Mare had the privilege of helping her folks cope.
This book of stories is worth reading. It was not written with the intention of being organized like a published book. It doesn’t have chapters, although the headings make it easy to read bit by bit. The overall writing style, reminiscences, is basically in chronological order, but not strictly so. Some stories out of order are a means of looking back within the story structure.
There are a few places that need some editing such as in spellings, punctuation, grammar and structure. It is easily fixable, and I just ignored it for the sake of the story. So when readers look beyond the raw surface, they will discover a gem. The telling touched my heart. I love reading about relationships as they are dynamic and change occurs for all parties. My hope is that you will be touched as well, when you read this story. My congratulation to my friend for fine storytelling. I recommend this book to anyone who loves memoirs and tales of family life.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this commentary from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”