Happy Father's Day

On the bulletin board to my right of my desk, pined along the top are 5 photographs, the kind you'd get from those cheap Instamatic cameras. In each photo, captured for eternity, are two very young boys, with excited smiles on their faces as they tear into the wrapped presents around them. One shows the youngest standing on his chair,  a dollar bill held up in front of his face, his wide smile peeking through at the bottom of the bill. Another shows the oldest holding up a box that nearly dwarfs him. A happier time captured for eternity.

They are my sons. Richard Corey Schiver now 31 and with a small family of his own. Joshua Todd Schiver 30, living at home where he takes care of his mom. The oldest will speak to me but he doesn't go out of his way to do so. The youngest has asked me to stay out of his life.

Their mother and I divorced when they were young. It doesn't matter any longer whose fault it was that we went our separate ways, only that we did and in the process we damaged two young men. To be honest I wasn't ready to be a father. I hadn't grown enough to take on the responsibility of raising two young boys.

I had just gotten out of the service when I met their mother, one thing led to another and within a year she was pregnant. I wanted to do the right thing even though at the time it was obvious we were not really meant for one another. I was still struggling with adapting to becoming a civilian, jobs were tough to find, and my drinking was getting out of hand. A combination guaranteed to keep even the most desperate employer from offering me anything.

After seven years and the birth of two boys we divorced. We both eventually remarried and moved on with our separate lives. I tried to remain a part of their lives, but I could have tried harder. I paid child support when I had it, provided health care when I had it, and visited when I could.

But I made a lot of mistakes over that period of time. Stupid mistakes driven more out of stubbornness than anything else. Mistakes that an older, wiser version of myself wishes I could go back and change.But there is one very important lesson I've taken from this.

Father's are a very important part of a child's life. Yes mother's give birth and nurture the child, and the son or daughter will never forget their mother. But the Father plays an important role as well. They are the child's hero, the knight in shining armor who stands ready to protect them at all costs. To guide them, to love them, to protect them.

That is where I failed as a father.

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