Like a lot of people of my generation, I have two dads, and not in a “Fabulous” sort of way. For most of my life, I've considered my step-dad to be my Father.
'Papa' came into our lives when I was eight and my sister was six. He was a friend-of-a-friend of my mom's, and one night after the divorce, we were at a Friday night social gathering, and he talked my mom into taking a ride on his motorcycle, as she had never ridden one before. Slick move, since 28 years later, they're still together.
He had a rough go of it, too. The benefit of informally adopting kids that age is that he got to miss the diaper years. He also missed some key formative years, so he had some somewhat developed little people to go along with his new girlfriend.
There were some glitches, but at the end of the day, he did a marvelous job. As a father, he always (well, usually) had the patience needed to deal with us as kids. He was fond of taking any opportunity to teach us something, not in a lecturing sort of way, but more questioning, like “what do you see here that's relevant,” or “how do you suppose that happened.”
Not that he didn't lecture, but it was a form of discipline. He wasn't inclined to physical punishment, but I seem to recall lectures that could last 3-4 hours. He claims that I'm exaggerating the time, but that's how I remember it.
Of all the fond memories, it's the every-day ones that warm my heart. Summer nights at the fire pit. Autumn wood-cutting sessions. Rubber band fights. Teasing, teasing, and more teasing. Taking guns to the dump to make the cans dance. Board game nights. Inappropriate jokes. I could go on....
When I got married, he honored me by being my best man, and when I have a son, I'll get to fulfill my life-long ambition of naming him after his grandpa.
So today, love and gratitude to my Papa, and a hearty “Cheers!” to all the men who understand that they are practicing the noblest of professions: Parenthood.