Raise a Glass to Dad(s) this Father’s Day

by Renee on June 15, 2011

Father’s Day is quickly approaching, and for me it’s full of emotion. I am lucky enough to have had two great dads in Bob Mills and Jack McAuliffe. One I knew the first half of my life, and the other I’m spending the second half of my life coming to know. I wouldn’t be who I am today without their influence on me, past and present.

Bob Mills held me as a baby, bandaged bruised knees, taught me how to ride a bike and gave my teenage dates a wary eye. He guided me through college, acted impressed with my first Real Job, and walked me down the aisle when I married far too young. He was also there to console me when that marriage failed. And then he was gone–he died of a heart attack at the age of 52 when I was 24 years old. He shaped my humor, taught me to appreciate life and gave me confidence. His birthday is June 21st, the summer solstice. He loved the long summer days and sitting out on the backyard patio with a cigar on a warm night in August, admiring the moon and stars. I loved the smell of that cigar wafting up to my open bedroom window, and hearing his laughter with my Mom as they discussed the day’s events. Bob Mills will always be my Dad, and he will always be present in my life.

I found Jack ten years or so ago, the birthfather who didn’t know I existed practically until I appeared on his doorstep–me, a fully formed adult human being, at the age of 37, not hoping for another father exactly, but wanting to know where his family story fit into my life. He and the whole McAuliffe clan welcomed me, and for that I am grateful. Through Jack I have learned where some of my physical and even emotional characteristics come from, and why I have always had a love of good beer and all things Irish. He has a wicked sense of humor, and I understand now that I probably get a smidge of that from him as well. Jack and I have only spent extended time together a handful of times due to geography, but I have enjoyed getting to know him through his emails and phone calls. By far the most fun we’ve had together was this past March in San Francisco for the Craft Brewers Conference. He’s thinking of heading to the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado this fall, and I may join him. I love making memories with Jack. Even though I was a late-in-life surprise–something some men may have turned away from, Jack has been a warm and open presence in my life–yes, even offering fatherly advice. As I was heading out into the San Francisco evening to meet up with other craft beer lovers on the night we arrived, when he was tired from travel and thinking he’d stay in, he said to me, “Have fun and don’t get arrested!” I managed to accomplish both.

My dads Bob and Jack would have liked each other, of this I’m decidedly sure. Both had/have sharp math and engineering minds, great humor, a genuine interest in people and a true zest for living. And they both have me as a daughter; I’m their biggest link, and their biggest fan. Cheers to all the fathers out there– adoptive dads, birthdads, new dads, stepdads, fathers-in-law, grandfathers, and those moms who have to be both mom and dad to their kids. I raise my glass to you all!

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