Nineteen years ago this coming November, my son Lance latched onto my husband Ronnie’s leg and asked, “are you going to be my dad?” I was so embarrassed.
Ronnie and I had just had a wonderful night out and decided we were going to date each other exclusively. When Lance asked Ronnie if he was going to be his dad, I figured that was the last time I would see Ronnie. I was shocked when Ronnie looked at me and replied, “you will have to ask your mom.”
So much has happened and so many years have passed since my little innocent baby boy Lance wanted Ronnie for his father. Ronnie and I married the following February, and he became a father to both my sons, Anthony and Lance. Within a month Ronnie received a call on our land line phone from my ex-husband in Illinois. I was at an appointment and when I returned home Ronnie said, “your ex-husband called, and wants you to call him back.”
I was shocked; my ex-husband never called me. I returned my ex’s call, and he told me he was sending my daughter on a plane to live with me within two days. My ex was very angry. He told me my daughter, who was a week shy of her 16th birthday, had been smoking pot, sneaking out of his home at night, and causing trouble between him and his wife.
I told my ex I would need to talk with Ronnie and make sure he was ok with her coming to live with us. When I asked Ronnie, he didn’t hesitate to answer. Ronnie said, “of course, she is your daughter.” Within two days Mandi was living with us and her half brothers.
Today we both agree that was the biggest mistake we ever made. In fact Ronnie now says, “that was the day we let the devil into our home.” Mandi was out of control, she skipped school, ran our phone bill up hundred’s of dollars, and continued to use drugs. She eventually was fired from her job at a local video store for theft, and the icing on the cake is when she falsely accused a neighbor boy of raping her.
When Mandi was 18 years old, she moved in with her boyfriend and became pregnant. During the time Mandi lived with us, Ronnie treated Mandi as his own. It was Ronnie that took Mandi to the hospital when she was badly hurt on a bicycle, and it was Ronnie that attended the parents night at her school. Ronnie comforted Mandi and tried endlessly to get her to turn her life around. It would be Mandi years later, after being estranged from the family, who would attempt to imprison us on false allegations.
Ronnie raised Anthony and Lance as his own. He never used the title “Step-dad.” The boys were his. Ronnie coached the boys football teams; he took them their lunch to school when they would forget in the morning. He attended all their school functions, on many occasions leaving work early or taking a day off work. Ronnie helped them design school projects and do their homework
He taught the boys to fish, how to play basketball. He would play games with them for hours. Ronnie helped them purchase cars and taught them how to maintain their cars. Ronnie always made sure they had the best clothes, shoes, limousines for school dances, and would chaperone field trips and school events. Ronnie attended every sporting event the boys participated in, even the following day after a surgery when he could barely walk. He also attended most of their practices.
Ronnie drove the boys to school when it was raining or too cold outside. Ronnie bought a home so the boys would not grow up in an apartment. Ronnie took them to countless doctor and dental appointments. Ronnie continued to work for a company that he was not happy at but had amazing insurance. Lance’s Podiatrist informed us that Lance would need surgery on both of his feet and the cost would be $72,000.00. Ronnie’s insurance would cover almost 100% of the surgery. Ronnie stayed at the company until all of the surgery and re-hab was completed.
Ronnie loved these boys, and he sacrificed without question or complaint. While Anthony and Lance’s dad sat in prisons. During the 18 years of raising the boys we only received $161.00 of child support. I never received a cent for Anthony. I have yet to meet a “step-father” that was involved as much in their step-children’s lives as Ronnie was. Especially when these kids would turn and attempt to destroy Ronnie and I, he forgave them on multiple occasions.
Ronnie also embraced my daughter Ali who was adopted and came to her rescue when called upon.
Today on this day that commemorates Father’s. It saddens me that Ronnie is estranged from Lance. Ronnie loves Lance and Ali and I hope in their heart of hearts they realize this.
Happy Father’s Day!