I saw my dad today. My adoptive dad, that is. The man who raised me, technically as close to one I can call "dad" as ever will be.
My son and I had just finished visiting his own dad at the PPG building where he works. We sat down to share a bagel in the café in the plaza. I looked up and saw him then. He said good bye to what appeared to be some coworkers and turned away from us, walking the opposite direction. I watched him as he walked, he looked old to me now, a slight limp in his gait, hair almost white. I stood up as he rounded the corner far away so I could watch him until I couldn't see him anymore. He still had the paunch and the big hands, something of a comfort to me growing up. When I sat down again, my son said to me, "what were you looking at, mama? You look sad." I had no response and just hid my face in my coffee cup as tears welled up in my eyes.
This incident all came shortly after my birthfather sent me his usual "tree" of flowers on my birthday. Always picking out the largest and most expensive arrangement available at the local florist, even the delivery man each year is a little embarrassed for me as he tries to find a place to put them in my house. I only glance at the cards now, already knowing what they say because they're written by his personal assistant, conveniently and perfectly impersonal. My favorite part is how he signs the cards "Doctor"---as if we're on professionally detached terms.
I've never known a dad, to be honest. I once knew a man who raised me as his own and last year I met the man who gave me the other half of my genes. But I do know someone else's dad. I watch him everyday with his son, who looks like a miniature version of himself. I see him gently kiss him as he sleeps, pick him up and throw him around, I see him say sorry when he messes up, modeling an evolved man in a world that teaches men they are not responsible for their actions. I see him work on being patient with him knowing neither of them is or ever will be perfect.