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Your grandson asked about you the other day. He wanted to know where mommy’s daddy was.

He’s convinced you’re in Heaven, even though I’ve tried to explain that’s not the case. How do you explain to a four-year-old that you never wanted to know me?

That conversation really left me wondering about a lot of things. The topic of you has never been one to upset me much. Just like anyone missing a limb I’ve learned to adapt. I understood from an early age what it was like to skip the father-daughter dance at school. To learn that I could still participate in Dads Club Sports even though I didn’t have a dad.

I learned to focus on the fun things that mom and I did together. When it was time to stand up in front of the class and give an oral report on my family, you were always the guy in the background. Somewhere around but never there. You were the one missing out on the party.

I remember when you had your chance. A few short encounters, a shopping date and phone calls. Money for college. I guess you felt the return on your investment wasn’t worth it, because as soon as you could, you bolted yet again.

Maybe I wasn’t your type. Maybe I was just a reminder of what you didn’t want in life.

Your absence has never bothered me. Not once until I became a mother and had to look my son in the eye and explain where you were.

The thought of not seeing my child, even for one day, tugs at my heart.

Why don’t I ever tug at your heart?

I wonder if you ever think about me. If you’ve searched for me on Facebook to see what my life is like. If you know that I’m successful, and if that makes you proud.

I wonder if you know that I married a man who treats me the way you should have told me a woman should be treated. A man who loves our son unconditionally, and who will make sure our son knows that feeling every single day.

Did you realize you’re a grandfather? Only in the technical sense. You haven’t quite earned the title.

He has my chin, which is the one and only thing I know I got from you.

I wonder as he grows up if he will still have questions about you. If he’ll realize the weight of your decisions, and if he’ll understand that in not knowing me, you also do not want to know him.

That is what makes me angry. That is the part that breaks my heart.

You should know that my son is someone worth knowing.

So next time he asks about you, I will take a moment and also a deep breath. I will answer his questions the best way I know how. I will be honest, but I’ll never be cruel. And regardless of how the conversation goes, I will take an extra moment to make sure he knows how much he is loved. Truly, whole-heartedly loved.

The way my mother taught me.

Natasha Funderburk

Natasha Funderburk is a Midwestern girl living in Iowa with her husband, dog, and four year old son. Natasha works as a freelance writer and hospice consultant, and possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration. Natasha loves anything and everything related to travel, reading, at home dance-parties, fitness/health, and all things food. You can find more of her musings at natashafunderburk.com

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