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Father's Day, but not for me

This is always a weird day for me, for, a decade and a half ago, I became a father for the first and only time.

I was a college student and a mediocre one, at best. Maturity, for many men, comes later in life and I set myself up for a chance to grab it.

Like many of my ilk, in their early twenties, I was unable to outdistance my own selfishness for a higher good.

My daughter was born after an entire day of labor, literally, in the tenth month I'd known her mother. Like many young people, a cloak of invincibility was not where I thought it was. While a young man of many mistakes, I felt infallible to the errors that had befallen others. It couldn't happen to me. By error, I don't mean the creating of life, in this case, a gorgeous, little girl. I mean the manner in which it was done.

With little but chaos and panic to go on as a means of building a relationship around an expected child, we were doomed. Hannah Elaine's birth took that away temporarily. But let this be a warning to you young people. You are fallible. Even when the path of the righteous, or at least the stable, appears at the fork in the road, there are times when you'll watch yourself traverse the opposite path and be unable to stop it.

Call it human nature, human frailty or just plain weakness. There are times when your best intentions will fall incredibly short.

While my small family unit fell apart, I was lucky in the sense that my former partner had the maturity and inner fortitude to do what was best for my daughter. She created a home and found a quality individual to take my place. Hannah is lucky that she was able to grow up in a loving home.

I interrupted her life until she was just starting school before it became obvious that she, her mother and even I, would be better off without my long-distance meddling. I lived across the country. I did what I could, but it was hardly enough. Monthly visits of trying to reacclimate to each other and doing it in shopping malls and restaurants.

Then one visit I arrived and did it again. Chose my own selfish desires and wants, as opposed to my daughter's. I skipped a visit. There were frustrations on all fronts. Frustration was the basis of much of what our little family had been created with and from baby to grandparents to aunts it was obvious inside everyone.

Sometimes the high road is to turn around and go back from whence you came.

It was the second most miserable feeling I'd ever had. The first was leaving Hannah and her mother in our little apartment the first time. It was agreed upon as the right thing to do but it certainly didn't feel that way. Now, years later, I was leaving again. It was like no matter what good I did, in the end, that was what I was best at-leaving when times became difficult.

Which makes today a difficult one for me. It isn't easy to talk about. It isn't easy to think about. 'What could have been' runs through the mind all day and it's only worse on her birthday. But we all learn to live with ourselves and our mistakes and that's part of what maturing is about. I'm lucky to know she's somewhere safe and happy, even if little, if any of it, can be attributed to me.

While this may lead to some kind of small, emotional catharsis for me, I think what really needs to be said and meant is the wishing of a happy Father's Day to Hannah's step-father. He's a lucky man today and a good man and for that I'd like to thank him sincerely.

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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