Our parents divorced when Karen was a toddler, and a few years later we were blessed with the best of a complicated world - a father and a stepfather. The situation wound up a bit confusing later on down the road. Especially when it was time for Karen to get married.
As sometimes happened in those days, long before shared custody and divorce mediation, we didn't maintain much contact with our natural father. It was hoped that our new stepfather would grow to be the apple of our eyes.
Gordon was, in fact, a wonderful man. He accepted us as his children and went on to nurture, counsel and play a major part in the raising of my sister and me. He was the humor in an otherwise dry existence. He was the fun where there often wasn't any. And he was the true keeper of our hearts, with our best interests always at the center of his own.
I maintained ties with my natural father, too, although initially strained. I saw the situation for what it was and did my best to mend all wounds. Gordon supported this whole-heartedly. Karen, being years younger than me, grew up without really knowing our natural father.
When Karen was in high school and I was married, living far away from home, we went through a second divorce. This time, however, I was careful to maintain ties. Gordon remained the father figure he'd always been and even became "Grandpa Gordon" to my firstborn. Karen and Gordon grew apart some, but reestablished ties after graduation.
Gordon eventually remarried. Carol was ideally suited to him and understood the complications of our situation. When they both encouraged Karen to mend her severed ties with Dad, she bravely set about renewing a relationship she barely remembered.
Communication with Dad was, at its best, on the surface. We knew he loved us and he knew we loved him, but the words were seldom spoken aloud. And none of us ever mentioned our relationship with Gordon.
Before Karen announced her engagement, she voiced her concerns. "I want Gordon to give me away when I get married."
"Mm-hmm," I replied.
"But I want Dad to give me away, too. I don't want to hurt either one of them."
I knew Gordon would understand. My father, however, would be a little harder to convince. "Let me see what I can do."
A letter, I decided, felt right. Gordon, of course, was privy to my plan and supported it.
We were children when this all started, and the situation was completely out of our hands. As adults now, we need and want you to be our father. We love you and want you to be a part of our lives.
But Gordon is a part of our lives, too. He has been a good man, an honest man, and has done everything a father would do for his children.
Karen is getting married in a few months. It would mean the world to her, and to me, if you would walk her down the aisle - together with Gordon.
Loving Gordon doesn't mean in any way that we love you any less. There is plenty of room for two wonderful fathers in our lives. Gordon always encouraged contact with you, never spoke a word against you or undermined our feelings for you. We respect the fact that you never voiced negative feelings about Gordon.
Give this some thought. Remember both Karen and I love you and want our family ties to be restored. Remember that in your absence, we established strong family ties with Gordon, and it would be unfair to all of us to expect that to stop.
It would be a beautiful sight to watch Karen walking down the aisle on her wedding day, flanked by two wonderful fathers. It would be an answer to prayer.
I love you.