Many years ago, my mother married a man named "Hiro." He was from Japan and was of the old school. Stern but generous. Proud but sensitive. Head of the household. Tough but kind. I was in my thirties and it was good to see my mother happy again. She smiled. He smiled. She was old school Japanese, waiting on the spouse. He doted on her. It was a good second marriage for both of them. I was happy to see he have a second chance in life with someone who loved her. My brother was happy as well.
Then it happened. We went out for dinner after the marriage, a celebration of the joining of the two. We were the adult children, no blood relation to him. We all were sitting down when he made the announcement. ( I don't remember the exact words)
"I married your mother. She is my wife. You are my children. No matter what age. I married your mom and her children are mine now. I love your mother and will take care of her. We are one family now. I love you as well."
Tears welled in my eyes. He didn't have take us as his children but he did. My mother smiled and we smiled back. It was good to see her in love and him in love. I felt my heart start to love him as well. I saw him caress my mother's hand in tenderness.
The waiter came up to take our order and he introduced us as his children. The waiter's eyebrows raised up a little, a older Japanese couple and two half Japanese/white children who bore no resemblance to the man. Hiro leaned forward and spoke softy, "these is my family and we are celebrating our marriage."
The waiter's eyebrows raised just a tad but more but he smiled. He looked confused but Hiro stated, "I married their mother and now they are my children"
The waiter nodded and brought us drinks. We drank and ate well that night.
I was working full time and going to Engineering College at night. Often I would take to Hiro about my work and school. My mother told me that he would brag about his children, the son who was a biologist, the daughter who was studying to be an Engineer. Hiro and my mother had a good life together.
Jeff asked my hand in marriage to Hiro and it was granted. Hiro was going to give me away as all fathers do. But the cruel cancer took him away before we got married. But in my mind, he was there, walking beside me down the aisle. He still is in part of my heart. I am sure he was smiling while watching down from heaven.
A Father who I got to enjoy and love the last few years of his life. A Father that I could love and be proud to have. A Father that was my rock. Someone called him my stepfather once and I stopped and corrected them...he is my Father. We are family. It is the Japanese way.
It's been over 18 years since he passed away. I still miss him. His seriousness and kindness and love. His humor and his huge heart that took us all in and made us whole again.
Happy Father's Day, Hiro. You will always be in my heart.