Sometimes the things that make up a father's heart are those bringing pain. I've seen them firsthand these last seven days. As our visit with Wolf began and ended with stressful incidents and conflicting emotions, I became even more convinced that Yukon has got to be one of the most compassionate yet steadfast fathers on the planet. And he belongs to us.
I remember one particular incident at a local swimming pool when Yukon and I were dating. We were training for a triathlon and had taken Wolf for a swim/workout one evening, as we often did, allowing him to swim while we did laps, one or the other of us checking in every so often. For some reason that night, Wolf was having trouble; acting up, forgetting rules and bugging other kids. In the locker room it was even worse; he bugged Yukon, snapped his towel, and was generally a pain in the neck. I could tell when the two of them emerged from the locker room that something was up; both were angry but neither would talk about it in the car. At my house, I sent Wolf upstairs to change and asked Yukon what happened. As the story emerged, I started to say my usual line reserved for friends when the party was over. But he stopped me. I expected an end, a 'great knowing you' or a 'I'll call you'.
I got this instead: "I love him, too."
He still does. In fact, he sometimes loves him when I can't. And that, my friends, is a father.
Yukon offers support to a situation that he chose to enter; a completely transparent relationship fraught with all sorts of unknowns and trials that still bring us grief as a family, but so much joy as well. Those of you who attended our wedding might remember the vow he made to Wolf, one he has continued to nurture even when all hope seems lost. For he is a father who knows what it means to be one.
He went fishing this afternoon; and in the middle of a cast his cell phone rang, and rang again, and a voice came through over the sound of rushing water and the soft splashing of fish in the creek. "Hello, Dad? I just wanted to tell you thanks for coming to see me, and Happy Father's Day."
That was all he needed.