Sunday, June 19, 2011

For my Step-Dad on Father's Day

Long time readers know my dad died when I was young, but that doesn't mean I haven't had some stable, wonderful men in my life—grandparents, uncles, the fathers of friends. Today though, I'd like to talk a little about the great man who married my mom.

Art and my mom
The Romance was a Whirlwind

Caught us all off guard, I think. You see, I grew up in a pretty small town, and so everybody has some idea who everybody else is to some degree—at least among people with kids around the same age. Art was dating a woman who was a long time friend of my mom, but things weren't very rosy there. (she was sort of an uptight lady—she honestly never smiled because she believed it would give her wrinkles—in her defense, she had a lovely complexion--probably still does)

Spring break when I was in 8th grade, my mom and I went skiing and she let me take two friends with us—my BFF, Shannon, and Caroline. In McCall, we ran into Art and his kids—three boys (of ages on either side of me, and all in the 'cool' range) and a girl, and Kari, the daughter, who is youngest--4 years younger than me, saw this group of GIRLS and thought she'd sort of like to hang with us instead of her dad and brothers.

You see (and here is the 'holy crap, that IS a small town' part) Shannon's DAD was dating Art's ex-wife, so Shannon and Kari knew each other well.

That was when Art first decided mom was the woman for him... a lady who takes a group of teens skiing for break was his type of lady.

They got to know each other a little, but she solidly refused to date him because of this friend of hers.

She held out until I went with a group of students to Europe that June. I learned later that that allowed them to go OUT OF TOWN for a date... now this was my mother... that means ONLY what I said... that they drove 80 miles to Coeur d'Alene for dinner because my mom didn't want to run into anyone and make anyone uncomfortable unless they decided it was going to be a real thing.

I got back three weeks later and the two were already in it for the long haul. They got married in August.

With his daughter and her daughters and my mom

He is the kind of man who takes the high road. Who preserves feelings, even if it makes him look like the bad guy. His divorce wasn't a smooth one, and though many might have bashed their former spouse, he never said a WORD. He didn't say anything negative to his kids because she was their mother and he loves them.

He is full of jokes and stories. He is the go to guy for help of all sorts—anybody can ask and they do—friends, family, neighbors, church members. He is a retired electrician, so the set of skills is more vast that most people have.

He is a master of innuendo. His tag line on the side of his truck said, “Let us remove your shorts”. Definitely a forerunner of my own pants-free movement.

As a Step-Dad

He was cautious about pushing it. I was 14 when they married, and he didn't press the father angle. It was probably good. Mom and I had been alone for four years and I wouldn't have reacted well to any heavy-handed parenting when I'd never had any. My mom's illusions were hard enough. I was grounded four times as a kid—three of them in the early weeks of their marriage.

I knew though, that I could count on him for anything—call when there was trouble.

As My Mom's Husband

See, this is the best part. My mom has an underdeveloped sense of whimsy. She got serious far too young in life and felt she had to stay there. Art though, pulls her into fun. He makes her laugh, he helps her play... and he smiles and nods when she gets on one of her soap boxes (most of which I agree with her on—they are often political, but I think Art just humors her)

I love that she has someone to lighten her life—to help her have a little fun.

Art, you're a good man and I love you!

And Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there! (Including HWMNBMOTI)

Edit:  I've done some rewording on this. My original post hurt the feelings of a few people and for that, I'm deeply sorry. I've apologized more formally here


Tracy said...

a really lovely tribute to your step-dad...I'm glad you had peopel in your life to fill in before he was added to your family as your step-dad!
Have a great day!

Cathy Webster (Olliffe) said...

Yay Art! You sound like the coolest of dads! Congrats on making Hart and her mom so happy.

Jan Morrison said...

Nice tribute, dearybones! I talked about my Daddio too.

Cold As Heaven said...

Is it father's day today? I didn't know. Nobody told me >:D

Cold As Heaven

Anonymous said...

Does it get confusing with a Hart and an Art? He sounds awesome, happy Father's Day to him. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like he was the perfect man for your family! Nice tribute, Hart.

Old Kitty said...

Art!!! Yay!!!! What a man!! What a fabulous dad, step-dad and hubby to your mum!! Good for Art!! Happy Father's Day!! Take care

Lisa said...

This is so lovely. Art sounds like a wonderful man. I'm glad that you have him in your life.

Theres just life said...

What a great tribute to the Dad in your life. I am so happy you and your Mom found him.

Pamela Jo

Krista M said...

That was a wonderful tribute!! :)

Trisha said...

Art sounds like a really awesome guy!! I'm very happy for your mother and for you :)

erica and christy said...

Great story, Hart! Working in Head Start, most of my students aren't from 2-parent families and we always talk about "the caring people in your life" instead of parents. Reading your story makes me even happier that we do that. :)

Missed Periods said...

Art seems perfect for your mom. I love that.

Hart Johnson said...

Thanks so much everyone! He is pretty great!

Kevin Fricke said...

I agree Art a great guy. I like your Fathers Day Story.

Anonymous said...

Great Step fathers blog right up to the point you decide to trash my mom. Art's "Ex" did everything she could for us kids, sacraficed everything she had and honestly did it without much help from your step father. Why is it you decide now to throw stones? Maybe your married life not doing so well? Are you still married? Maybe next time you want to write a blog about family you get all the facts and then still have a little respect and dignity and keep your mouth shut. Don't ever discuss my mom or think you know the past again. As much as I dislike you and your parents, I wouldn't bring up dirt to hurt them. Maybe you should do the same.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute (in part) to a wonderful man. with that said, I equally find it repulsive, irresponsible and malicious completely lacking in decorum, appropriateness and decency. As much as I agree my father is a wonderful man. the venom and rage hidden in your message has an obvious agenda that comes from a place of ignorance and self-righteousness. It seems even more obvious that you have no filter to discern what and what not to publicly display. nice to see some things don’t change. I personally hold myself to a much higher standard than to minimize a wonderful day with such venomous ramblings. It is not, Was not, and Will Never be acceptable to impugn, tear down or otherwise attempt to destroy another’s reputation in such a disgusting way. As for my mother she has been nothing less than someone I hold in high regard, admire and respect completely. You are no more familiar than I about what did or didn’t happen.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, dear.... Deepest apologies to my step siblings who I have offended deeply. I'm VERY sorry if this came across that way. I LIKE your mom, but this was my perception and reality of the matter. So I'm sorry it came across that way.

Anonymous said...

Hart Johnson,
How do you think we sould take it? Make no mistake, you have no idea what was going on in that period of time and if you think you do, you should put down the crack pipe and let your head clear. Your lame apology doesn't do it for me and hopefully our paths never cross. Please go back to your miserable life and leave the rest of us alone.

Tina said...

Wow. How sad that something meant to be a tribute to one ended up hurting others. Not having read the original post, I'm a little in the dark here, but I gather your intent was sincere. I hope that in time this break in the relationships might heal.
Tina @ Life is Good

Hart Johnson said...

Tad-that's your prerogative to not accept--I feel badly that you don't want to step back and see I didn't mean for it to come out like it did, but it is your right, so I accept it. I'm still sorry.

Tina-it was sincere. I just got caught up in the details that make 'a story' and forgot it was real lives and events, and so gave more information than I had a right to.