BEST FATHER'S DAY STORY EVER
THIS WILL FOREVER CHANGE HOW YOU SEE FATHERS - AND FAMILY
I guarantee this is THE BEST Father’s Day story you will ever hear. (Yes, you can actually hear it on my podcast.) But it’s not just a Father’s Day story. This is a story about family. But - not the type of family you’re taught by definition.
You see, family is what you make it. And family is what makes you. It’s just not necessarily made of blood. It’s made of bonds.
So, ultimately, this is a true story about making family - no biology required.
Now, no matter how many times I share this, I tear up. I find something new in it each time. It’s especially magical to look in someone’s eyes when you tell it. Because you’ll see their eyes well up too. And trust me, you will share this.
It should be a movie, really. It’s probably in the making, just waiting on its writer who can barely see through their tears.
But this year, as I share this unbelievably true story, it has a very different meaning to me, given a life-changing experience I’ve had …
So, a 23-year-old woman in Arkansas loses her father. For four years she continues to text his phone number. Every day. She just wants to update him on her life. Of course, she never gets a response, until this one day…
Her name is Chastity Patterson. Chastity lives in Newport. It’s Thursday. And as she does every day, Chastity texts her papa. This also happens to be the eve of the fourth anniversary of his death.
“Hey, dad, it’s me. Tomorrow is going to be a tough day again.”
Her texts always recap all of the highs and lows she goes through without having her father by her side.
Four years of highs and lows.
She tells him about how she beat cancer. How she has been taking better care of herself as she promised him she would. She tells him about how she finished college and graduated - with honours. How she fell in love. And had her heart broken.
“You would have killed him.”
So she sends that Thursday night text.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me the most, but one day we will have our chance to watch that game!”
Then, it happens. Chastity receives a response …
A stranger had been receiving her daily messages these past four years. A man.
“My name is Brad and I lost my daughter in a car wreck August 2014 and your messages have kept me alive. When you text me, I know it’s a message from God. I have listened to you for years and I have watched you grow more than anyone … I have wanted to text you back for years, but I didn’t want to break your heart.”
Brad goes on to say he wished his daughter would have become the woman Chastity is.
“I’m sorry you have to go through this but if it makes it any better, I am very proud of you!
”P.S. I think your father would be happy to know you bought another dog instead of having children.”
Chastity shares this entire exchange on Facebook. “Today was my sign that everything is okay and I can let him rest!”
(What? You think I’m some special, high-tech undercover agent who can hack into computer networks in Newport? Of course I found this on social media!)
In a later post, Chastity reveals something even more important for you to know.
"Jason was not my 'biological' father, but blood could not make him any closer! He never missed a school dance, prom, my games, and YES he would give me long talks about my mouth and attitude. I had to introduce my boyfriends to him (If I was allowed to date) and he would act like a normal dad and give us the long talk … I shared my messages for my friends and family to see that there is a God and it might take 4 years, but he shows up right on time!"
He was not her biological father. BUT he was still her dad.
Look. it doesn’t matter if you believe in God or if you believe in being good. You need to believe.
I’m lucky. I grew up with great parents. And they are thankfully still alive and imagine for many more years to come. But, last year, something really horrible happened to me and my parents couldn’t help me. It was in the thick of the pandemic. They live in another part of the country.
I happened to meet two strangers: Sylvie and Julian. They became my surrogate parents, in less than two weeks - and still are to this day. And of all of the amazing things they did for me (a story with many little branches of stories you’ll hear another day), there was one thing that just sticks out in my mind …
My birthday was coming up, and as everyone knows, you celebrate Birthday Eve, Birthday Day, and Birthday Boxing Day. So they take me out for Birthday Eve to a movie … in a theatre! My first time in a theatre since the Before Times.
We arrive early so we head across the way to a big box store. My favourite hair conditioner has been discontinued (because whenever I love something it’s only a matter of time before it’s discontinued). And when something I love is discontinued I never give up my quest for it. They indulge me in the search. It’s there! I buy the last eight bottles.
These are the giant bottles, so they weigh more than me at this point. Julian won’t let me carry them back to the car. He carries them. I’m the one who felt carried. I felt cared for. No one ever did that for me before.
We get back to the car, tuck the bottles of gold inside, and head over to the theatre.
It’s summertime. I’m dressed in what my mum calls my “uniform.” Little yoga shorts and a tee. And so Sylvie takes a pretty scarf out from her purse and lays it out over my seat.
She brought that scarf for me because my legs were bare and she knew the theatre would get cold and wanted me to be comfortable.
Turns out, this was one of the most memorable movies I’ve seen: Free Guy with Ryan Reynolds. And it was so very good because of how good I felt watching it. (Also because Ryan Reynolds is such a good actor that he can make any movie better than it is.)
Anyone who would have seen us that night, would not have thought twice about this man carrying a shopping bag with enough conditioner to last eight years (eight years for a normal family; eight weeks for me). And no one would have thought anything of this woman placing a scarf over a leather movie seat.
But these are memories I will think about for the rest of my life.
Your parents don’t have to be the ones you were born to or born with - or even the ones you call mum and dad. Your parents are the ones who make any movie extra good even if it’s just okay. Because they make you feel loved … cared for.
And when you feel loved and cared for, everything is so much better.
Just like when you live and help live - the way Sylvie and Julian do.
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