I wrote this article the day after Christmas in 2004... the article talks of spiritual times and the hopeful rebirth of family... it never did happen... the part about being "wanted" as opposed to being "needed" played on me for years... I'm needed at work... I'm needed to do certain things... I never want to be needed in a loving relationship... I want to be wanted... If a person isn't wanted eventually they are taken for granted and that is what happened to me...
Within the last year to a year and a half, a lot of "happenings," have left me, deep in thought. Thoughts that I like. All centering around whether my life is a success. And what I grew up believing, has left me. For me, money and possessions, have no meaning on being a success. All the money in the world, won't "buy" you a place, in your own home. It won't put a smile on your children's faces. While your wife (or husband) may enjoy all their "toys," that come with money, will they still feel loved at nights? Can these smiles and love be bought? We can argue all day about the ability to buy love. With Christmas now past, all gifts unwrapped, were the best gifts the most expensive ones? I would like to think that personal poems written to three step-children and my wife, meant more then the store bought gifts. I would like to think, personal messages given with my book, will become priceless.
The "thank you's" I received, makes me believe that they were received with the love and respect, that they were given. They came from the heart. One homemade gift, for my grandchild, had her parents, in shock. A toy chest, built strong, to survive the test of any child. A toy chest, which I pray will turn into a hope chest. 100% homemade, it turned out better then some store bought furniture. Five coats of varnish, made it shine, like it was still wet. When opened, the smell of fresh cedar surprised everyone. Lined in cedar, with brass hinges, like I said, it was built to last. I didn't have much money invested in it, but time. Time, that was well spent. To see, the looks on Mom and Dads faces, I would do it again.
Along with the celebration of the birth of Christ, it is also my own personal celebration, with my birthday. I did receive some very thoughtful gifts. Gifts that took time, that were personal, and they mean a lot. But two gifts I received, were homemade written cards, that I will frame and hang in my office. One card was from my wife. She recognized, my patience and my support. She knew that through her cancer, her car accident, the death of her father, I was still there. She knew that while our life together was chaotic, to say the least, she realized that some things were still running smoothly. Bills were being paid, she didn't have to worry about me, she knew, I was OK and doing things correctly. But she also knew, that she ignored me, she neglected me. She apologized for taking me for granted. She said how much she loved me and how much she wanted me. She recognized how much I have given to the children and a grandchild, that morally - are mine, but legally - are not. Her whole letter was from the heart, she opened up to me, in a way we had not done for years. But, one word, in this beautiful letter touched me, with the spirit of the season. The word - wanted. I know I'm needed. I know she relies on me to fix the car, or mow the grass, or do home repairs. But, I need more. She gave it to me, with that one word. To be needed is nice, but to be wanted is special.
The other card was from my step-daughter. Lisa, is a bright, intelligent 14 year old, who at times is a handful. She is beautiful, which naturally, attracts the boys. I've preached to her so many times, that eventually, you can only do so much with your looks. You can only do so much with your make-up and the clothes you wear. Eventually, you've got to be "beautiful" on the inside. You've got to get to the point, where you say, I don't need a boyfriend. Then you can ask if you want him to be your boyfriend. This is where it gets touchy. A step-parent can only do so much, its up to the bio-parent to take control. The bio-dad has very little to do with his daughter, so Betty is the one in charge. Whatever she decides I will support, but I will also voice my opinions. At times, these opinions have helped Betty make her decision. Which at times, Lisa totally disagrees with. I try to make light of it, by saying I'm just a mean old step-dad. Of course, this just makes her madder. But, a night or two later, there I am, helping her do her homework. There are a few times throughout the year, where she tells me that she loves me, then I realize its all worth it. But, her card was so personal. I showed it to everyone. Everyone, with their "oh's" and "ah's" agreed, how special it was. She was happy and glad that I was her Dad. She knew that I only wanted the best for her, and at times she may have disagreed, but she hopes I never change. Her final line was "...you are truly, one of a kind."
Lisa's Christmas gift to Betty was one of my poems about cancer, etched on a mirror. So much time was put into this project, it now has a home in our living room. Another one of my poems was etched by a niece on another mirror. It was the poem I read at my father-in-laws funeral. She gave that work of art to her dad, my brother-in-law.
All this time, ten years of sobriety, searching for success, I found it. It's not about money, it's not about possessions. It's about love, it's about being wanted (as well as needed.) Three simple words say it all - Success is family.
What I have learned through the years though is that family doesn't necessarily mean living under the same roof... family are people that want the best for us and we want the best for them