By now, many that have followed our story know I was born and raised in Mexico through my formative years. I’ve shared memories about my grandparents who raised me and life as I knew it then. I’ve mentioned my mother, Petra, but not much about my father – simply because that story is very complicated and very long. But as Father’s Day approaches, I can’t help but think about it…
You see, I was blessed with two Fathers: my biological father, Wayne, who I did not know much about or meet until I was 21, and my “Dad”, Charles, the man that raised me.
Pictured above: Martha with Charles/Carlos
Quick backstory: I grew up believing that Charles, or as my mom called him, Carlos, was my biological father. That’s because after they married and brought me back to the U.S., he was introduced to me as my Dad. At the time, (I was 6), the only other father figure I knew was my grandfather, so I accepted this as true. It took me a while to accept him, but once I did, I had no doubts that he was indeed my father in every sense of the word. We were close and as our family grew, he never treated me any different, nor loved me any less than his true biological kids.
When I was 21 and living on my own, I received a call one night – at the other end of the phone was a man saying, “Hi, I’m Wayne and I’m your father.” This threw me into a tail-spin and raised so many questions about who I really was and why I never really knew about him. Of course, I was curious and wanted to meet him right away. I guess you can say I was excited, too…I could finally put pieces together about why I was so different than the rest of the kids in our family.
Once we met, there was a kinship and I wanted to get to know him better—but at the same time, I felt as though I was cheating on my Dad, Carlos. I couldn’t imagine how he would feel when I’d tell him I wanted to meet my ‘real dad’ in person. And when I did, he just looked at me with the saddest eyes and told me it was ok, to go. I will never forget that look, one of love and fear at the same time, and the tears on both our cheeks as I walked away. And I’ll never forget the glee in his eyes, the incredible smile, and the hardest hug that he gave me when I returned.
Pictured above: Martha + Wayne
Through the years, I established a relationship with Wayne, but I just could not get myself to call him “Dad.” Whenever I tried, it became awkward and difficult. The word would get stuck in my throat and I could not get it out. Although I was comfortable in telling him I loved him, I was uncomfortable in calling him Dad.
That’s because I felt the word “Dad” was special and reserved for the man that raised me— the man that loved me unconditionally throughout my life, who taught me to ride a bike and fish, helped me when my car broke down after the football game, who would spend hours teaching me how to use tools, who taught me how to be an honest person and whose pocket knife that’s inscribed with “Carlos” is always in my purse as a sign that he is always there to protect me.
They have both passed away; my Dad, Carlos having passed first. Shortly after his death, I had a dream. In it, Wayne was coming to visit, but Carlos was at the house and I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t want to hurt either’s feelings by showing that I loved them both, I was torn.
Pictured Above: Charles/Carlos/Dad
As Wayne drove up the driveway, Carlos said “I’m so looking forward to all of us being together,” and with that, went and greeted Wayne with a hug. I woke up in tears, knowing that they both loved me and that it was ok to love them both.
I told Wayne about the dream and how torn I had been all these years about calling him Dad— he hugged me and said. “It’s ok to call me Wayne, it doesn’t take the love away.”
Father’s Day has such a special meaning, it is full of lessons, memories, and love. And even though both of my Dad’s are gone, it doesn’t take the love away.
Happy Father’s Day.