The Dad That He Didn’t Have to Be

Well if you’re up on my blogs, you already know that at times I can be a sentimental sap who becomes emotional from, movies, books, certain songs and even those TV commercials that are meant to tug at the heartstrings i.e. Hallmark, Folgers coffee, cell  phones, etc.

It’s not like I’m totally out of control… I mean, I don’t break down at every cry in your beer song ever written.  However once in a while a tune comes along that touches me so strongly, it seems like it was written about me.  Ever have that happen to you? 

I guess anyone who really knows me would understand why Elton John’s “Daniel” would be emotional for me… “Daniel my brother, you are older than me.  Do you still feel the pain of the scars that won’t heal?  Your eyes have died.  You’ve seen more than I.  Daniel you’re a star in the face of the sky.”  Lyrics so strong to me, I can’t actually sing them without becoming overwhelmed.

Well a few years ago I heard a song from a country music singer named Brad Paisley.  I enjoy country music quite a bit.  I have very eclectic music taste and appreciate the different artistic styling and talents from just about every gendre but I must admit, the folks who write country music sure know how to tell a story through a song.

In the particular song of which I speak, Mr. Paisley is professing a love and admiration for a father, who although “technically” is a “stepfather,” nothing could be further from the truth – or the heart.  If you know the story of my dad and me, the lyrics are so dead on that it is almost eerie to think it was not truly based on our life!

“When a single mom goes out on a date with somebody new…
it always winds up feeling more like a job interview.
My momma used to wonder if she’d ever meet someone…
who wouldn’t find out about me – and then turn around and run.

I met the man I call my dad when I was five years old.
He took my mom out to a movie and for once I got to go.
A few months later I remember lying there in bed…
I overheard him pop the question – and prayed that she’d say yes.

And then all of a sudden, oh, it seemed so strange to me…
How we went from something’s missing… To a family
Lookin’ back all I can say about all the things he did for me…
Is I hope I’m at least half the dad… that he didn’t have to be.”

And there it is… the dad he didn’t HAVE to be.  That’s my father all over. 

I am sure that there are millions of guys (and gals) out there who love and appreciate their father and I think that’s wonderful.  However to me, the joy of my dad, is that he was well aware that marrying my widowed mother would mean that he was taking on a package deal, yet he did it anyway.  He actually “chose” to become my father.  He could have called my sister Maureen and me Trudy’s kids… but he instead called us his kids. 

He was my protector, advisor, friend, and confidant.  Together, we even worked his business as a father and son company for 18 years.  No man alive could have loved their son more.  For forty-nine years he has felt pain when I was down, basked in my glories, cried for my losses and never stopped cheering me on.  He is proud of just about everything his “only son” ever does – whether it be big or small. 

Yes indeed, March 17, 1963… “We went from something’s missing to a family” and it was all due to one man.  The man I call my father.  The dad who took me to the ER when I was hurt or sick, stood up for me at school when I was unjustly singled out by a bully teacher, took photos of my confirmation, made holidays and birthdays special, took us on family vacations, bought my clothes, my toys and just about anything that I either needed or merely wanted.  He made sure I ate my vegetables, helped me with my homework, taught me to ride a bike and how to drive a car.  He taught me to respect myself, appreciate “family,” be kind to others and most of all, to love unconditionally.

Today is my dad’s birthday.  He is 80 years old and he is still my biggest supporter and best friend. 

We may not share the same DNA but we are connected by a bigger power.  I am sure that it was always God’s plan for John Abate to be my father.  I can’t be luckier or more blessed that he is.

Here’s to my father… my dad, John Abate.  Happy birthday dad!  I love you so much there are no words to express it.  You will forever be my daddy… my hero.

Click here for:  He Didn’t Have To Be 

Father and Son Company

Untill next time,



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8 responses to “The Dad That He Didn’t Have to Be

  1. Marcia

    You’ve got me crying. I remember the day your Mom and Dad got married. I even remember what I was wearing. How beautiful your Mom was. And I remember how happy they both were.

  2. C. Harvey

    Wow, such a moving story. You are truly blessed Don, because some children whom share the same DNA with their dad don’t have such a great story to share!

  3. Maureen Rothwell

    Yes, it’s true, he didn’t have to be our dad, but we really were quite irresistable kids don’t forget! Love you brother!!!

  4. Ginny

    Happy Birthday to your dad! I have been fortunate to meet him through your fabulous sister, Theresa, (my sister-in -law). You can tell he loves spending time with his children and grandchildren. He is so much fun to be around and I am glad my daughters and I got to know him a little bit.
    A very special man indeed!

  5. Jean

    What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. Happy birthday to John. His son is pretty wonderful too!!

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