A tale of two fathers…

Today has been a rough day. My stepson, whom I adore, is away with his father for three weeks. And as I expected, my wife’s ex and his wife are playing games with us. Despite an agreement that we are allowed to call every night to speak briefly to our son, they ignore calls, texts, and when they do respond (rarely) promising to call back later, they never follow through. We have spoken to him a total of 18 seconds in the last week. My stepdaughter, who we all joke is really some time-switched bio child of mine, as our personalities are so alike, had to work a double shift today because her work fired one of their staff and she has been tasked to fill in. I got to see her for all of ten minutes this morning. My oldest bio son was able to share breakfast with me, before having to run off for a week on a Scout’s summer camp trip. I’ll see him briefly next Saturday before he goes off for another week with his mom for her summer visitation. My youngest bio son remained, but I had to spend most the day away from him, as I was helping my elderly father-in-law, with a wicked heart condition, do some emergency repairs on my wife’s childhood home…which they are selling.

But the roughest part of the day was the realization that, for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a father to call today.

I am a man who was blessed with two dads. My stepdad, David, will always be the person I think of most as “Dad”. He raised me, taught me so much about life, and loved me like I was his own. He passed away just over four years ago, after losing his battle with esophageal cancer. My bio dad, Roger…well, as a child, I barely knew him. He was an alcoholic and a career Navy man. When he wasn’t out at see, he was drunk. But he turned his life around, and as an adult, we got to know each other all over again, and I am not ashamed to say how proud I am of the man that he became. All of us, me and my siblings and my mother, felt this way.

He passed this last January.

I’ll be honest…I don’t have a lot of heart for words tonight. I had thought to do some writing with a child-free evening ahead of me. Instead, I have been low, sad, and sleepy. But…my dads would have wanted me to write something, and I felt terrible not doing so. So here I am. I am going to end this piece with the toughest words I have ever had to write in all my life. The first I wrote myself, the second, I collaborated with my siblings. The obituaries of my fathers.

***

My stepfather:

P01 David W. Ruth, USN (Ret.)

Warner Robins – Known as “Jackhammer” to his friends and co-workers, David Whitney Ruth died at the age of 63 on Sunday, February 21, 2010, after a hard-fought battle with cancer. He passed in the peace of his home with Rosemary, his loving wife of twenty-seven years, at his side.

Born in Bisbee, Arizona, to David L. and Cora W. Ruth on August 18, 1946, David was the eldest of three sons. He graduated from Bisbee High School in 1965, and soon thereafter joined the United States Navy. It was while serving that he met Rosemary, whom he married on August 27, 1983.

A combat veteran of the Vietnam War, David retired from the Navy in 1985 after twenty years of proud service, having attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer 1st Class. Subsequently, he continued to serve his country as a Civil Servant first at Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and then at Robins Air Force Base, where he transferred in 2000 and from which he retired in 2008 due to illness.

An extraordinarily creative man, David had a lifelong passion for woodworking, metalworking, and machining, as well as love of the art of calligraphy. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, swimming, was an avid reader as well as a motorcycle enthusiast and collector. However, of all his passions, none was greater than that for his family, to whom he was absolutely dedicated.

He will forever live in the hearts of his wife, Rosemary; children, Joseph, David, Mark, Julia, Shauna and Michelle, along with their significant others; eighteen grandchildren; brothers, Charles (known as “Bill”), and Jeffery; numerous nieces and nephews; lifelong friend, Ed Liest, and many other close friends and associates. His parents, David and Cora Ruth, and his ex-wife, Sandy, predeceased him.

At the request of the deceased, there will be no public service. In lieu of flowers or other memorials, the family respectfully requests that any such considerations be given to a local hospice organization. The family wishes to express special thanks and appreciation to the staff and caregivers of the Heart of Georgia Hospice.

***

My bio father:

Norfolk, VA:  Roger Paul Baron, died peacefully January 4, 2014 in the presence and prayers of family and friends. He was born September 27, 1943, in Manteno, Illinois, to the late Grace Ross Baron and Orville Baron. Enlisting at the age of 17, Roger spent 30 years of honored military service in the Navy, rising to the rank of Command Master Chief and serving in both the Cuban Missile Crisis and Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

He made his home in the Hampton Roads area for the remainder of his life and was fiercely passionate about family, friendship, and helping those around him, especially those in the recovery community. He was a beloved Father, Grandfather, Son and Friend and leaves a legacy of service and a family strongly rooted in the foundation he helped to build for them.

He loved and is survived by his four children and their spouses: Joseph Patrick Baron (Jennifer), Julia Lynn Escobar (Joseph Wang), Mark Ross Baron (Myndee), and Michelle Kay Henry (Joe); and grandchildren Kevin Baron, Cameron Baron, Hailey Escobar, Katherine Escobar, Emily Escobar, Jaden Baron, Riley Baron, Elijah Sebboy, Robert Lindsey, Anslea Bell, Xander Mann, Adam Wang, his ex-wife Rosemary Ruth and his long-time friend of more than 50 years, Jim Driver.

He is preceded in death by his older brother David Baron and also survived by younger brother Michael Baron.

The family would like to give extraordinary thanks and appreciation to Takeisha Bishop, Raina West and all the Hospice caregivers for their compassion and consummate care and tremendous assistance which will forever be appreciated.

There will be no graveside service. Condolences may be offered to the family at (funeral home website link).  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Roger’s name to the Wounded Warriors Project at http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/.

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3 comments

  1. I wrote a piece yesterday. You were in my head when I wrote it. I understand your feelings to many degree – my boys were with their father on Mother’s Day. I have known these games since 2002 and honestly I am still played – my boys are now 19 and 16.

    My dad chose his death via a bottle – these holidays mean little to me. So yesterday I chose to honor a friend who was with us for 12 years and someone the boys and I miss terribly. They were with their dad yesterday, but they always hold on to someone who loved them dearly and they will always love him. Kimberly

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