What a touching and heartfelt write this is, Larry.
What I like most about this poem is that it is bookended wonderfully. The first stanzas run through the facts and the difficulties of the situation (and there are many, I'm sure) and the latter stanzas reveal to the reader what your love and devotion have brought you after all these years: love, respect and loyalty from someone who is there with you in your 'darkest hour'. What more can any father ask?
I have known multiple men over the years who have been in this exact scenario and it doesn't matter how smooth or how rough the sailing, I have always respected them enormously. Not so much because it is hard to love another man's blood child (children are lovable, after all!) but more because of the hurt that can come with it, as you write about when your daughter moved out. I have known men to suffer this as well: their child moving back in with a father who has given them very little time throughout their life, and now they are older and things are easier, they want to be involved. I always say that they will come back in the end and respect you and love you for everything you have done for them - no amount of money or anything else can buy that; that's years of commitment.
Being a father is lots of things: sacrifice, time, money (yes, even that sometimes!) suffering for them through their pain and - above all - love. The kind of love that sees a man travelling across the world to rescue his little girl from the 'prince' who broke her heart. (That stanza is a wonderfully moving piece of writing). What being a father isn't, is simply sharing DNA with a child who - too often - may as well be a stranger.
I voted earlier and have only just had a chance to place a comment. Being a great Dad isn't an automatic thing. I know lots of Dads that haven't been there for their kids. I was lucky because the man that I call Dad has proven to be the best Dad that anyone could have ever wanted. quietly there always going the extra mile to show how much he cares about us. He is so much the centre of our family that we just wouldn't be a family without him. Your poem could have been written for my Dad. A wonderful poem. Absolutely loved it. Milly xx
Larry, this is just beautiful! Darn you, you got me crying! This brings so many memories flooding back. My own dad died when I was 7, my mom remarried when I was 13. He was such a good man. He always treated us as his own, even though he had kids of his own. He passed away when I was 34. I've always said I was blessed enough to have 2 dad's in my lifetime when a lot of kids don't even have one. My husband now has always treated my daughters as his own. They know the love of a good man just as your daughter has with you. This was such a touching beautiful love letter to your daughter. She's truly blessed to have you in her life. Wonderfully done Larry!