My mother and my birth father divorced when I was a young kid. At the time of the divorce, I was the oldest of three children (with two younger sisters). A few years later, my mom met Gaylon Asbury, and they eventually decided to marry each other. They were the same age, and dad had never before been married, so he took on a lot when he married my mom, and decided to adopt her three children From zero to sixty doesn’t even come close!
After two years, Mom and Dad decided to have a fourth child, and that was when my baby brother was born. We were never a family of means, and we often barely scraped by with six mouths to feed in the house. In fact, my dad refuses to eat pinto beans to this day, because he got his fill over the course of all those years when choices were few.
We had a relatively eventful life with Mom struggling with an anxiety disorder, Dad ritualistically getting laid off from work every winter, and four kids that all came with the usual financial trappings of childhood (i.e., school supplies and clothes, field trips, band camps, etc.). I don’t mean to characterize our life as bad by any stretch. We were happy kids, and Mom and Dad worked hard to make sure we were largely unaware of the struggles they faced.
It was when I was an adult and serving in more of a consultative role with my parents that I learned the “Great Revelation.” While having a conversation with my parents about investing and retirement and helping them complete some paperwork, I asked the question that led to the “Great Revelation.” We were completing paperwork, when I came to the lines where I had to list both of their birthdays. I correctly identified Mom’s birthdate to an approving nod. I then sought a nodding approval for my accurate account of Dad’s birthday but was met with two very blank faces.
“Right?” I asked?
“Well….” my mother paused, “there’s something we never told you.” The conversation continued while my parents confessed to me that my dad was six years younger than my mother. I asked why they felt it necessary to bend that truth, and mom confessed that she was afraid of how her dad would feel with her marrying someone so much younger. I sincerely laughed and shook my head repeatedly that they felt so compelled to hide this truth.
Aside: To this day, the headstone that rests over my mother’s grave and awaits my dad’s body’s final arrival has them both with the same birth year.
So, we dutifully completed the paperwork at hand and moved on, now a triad of secret holders.
Then, it hit me. See, I’ve always been a fan of my awesome dad. He has always worked hard, loved his kids (adopted and natural), and set a fine example of what selfless giving and unconditional love looks like. What couldn’t have occurred to me before this revelation is that my awesome dad took on the responsibility for three young children at the ripe young age of 21 years. That’s right. At the age of 21, he fell in love with a woman and her three children and made a lifetime commitment that he has honored with grace, love, and integrity.
So, I just wanted to tell this story so anyone reading this will know that I put it down in ink (as are all things on the Internet). My dad is an awesome guy. He demonstrated it at the age of 21, and he has ever since.
Thanks for being awesome, Dad. I love you.
Happy Independence Day, Everyone! Tomorrow Begins Today.