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Missing Dad

That morning I fielded more requests than an overnight deejay.

"Get me dressed." "Get me water." "Where's breakfast?" "Can we go to the dollar store?" "Dollar store." "Dollar store!"

And it was only 8:53.

Normally, that Defcon 5 level of morning whine-time from my twins might jeopardize the life of their stuffed SpongeBob. But that day, I volleyed back calmly: "Your manners?" and "Be patient. We'll go to the store later."

To them it was any other day. But to me, it was as meaningful as any I'd had as a father. That day, my sons turned 4 years and 10 days old -- the same age I was when my dad died.

Seeing Alex and Thad at the exact point in their lives as I was when my father disappeared from mine froze me. That four-year, ten-day mark -- an end for me 30 years ago -- meant a beginning for them. They'd now have time with me that I never had with my dad.

And it reminded me that my job wasn't just to provide, to teach, to guide, and to back Mom up when she derailed the Popsicle train. My job -- no, my vow -- would be to make as many memories with them, for them, as I could.

Throughout that day, I thought back to how disappointed my father must've been when he was diagnosed with cancer and realized that he wouldn't get the chance to take me fishing, play catch -- even yell at me for a D in physics. And I realized that I could be there for my boys like my dad would've been there for me.

So I promised myself to do things like coach their soccer team, so I'd be right there in the middle of the huddle, sticking my hand in and shouting "1-2-3, Green Gorillas are groovy." I promised more patience, more reading, and less time at my desk. I promised to be the dad I always wanted to know.

As the three of us went about the day, I remembered a walk home from the park we'd taken a couple months before. Alex had figured it out. He knew Grammy and Pop Pop (my wife's parents), and he knew Nana (my mom), and the numbers just didn't add up.

"Daddy, who's your daddy?" Alex asked.