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John, Stephanie, and I


5. Single Daddy Years

The dean of my college invited me into his office.

“Take a semester off,” he said. “Rest. Be with your children.”

I don’t know what I would have done if it had not been for that half-year sabbatical. As it was, I was so full of sadness and fear and anger and despair that I wonder whether I was really able to be a father to my children or to be a friend to my friends.

We endured, somehow.

After the semester’s rest, I taught for one more year. I feared that immersion in work would become my narcotic against pain and fear, and thus my children would effectively lose their other parent. Therefore I stepped out of teaching and found other ways to get our living.

Raising two children as a single father was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. And I would go back and do it all over again in a red-hot minute. I was always exhausted, often afraid, and perpetually lonely. But even now, after John and Stephanie are grown and on their own, I miss the life of those days in spite of the exhaustion and fear and loneliness. I loved being my children’s father.

We moved to a suburb of Birmingham. It was a way of beginning again. The children went to school. I worked part-time at our church, part-time at stained glass, part-time at building maintenance. We had friends over, and they had us over. We took vacations to Gulf Shores sometimes and to the Smoky Mountains sometimes.

Stephanie and John grew to adulthood. Stephanie studied at California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. John studied at Herzing College in Birmingham.

Stephanie and her husband Konstantine now live in rural southern Vermont with their two girls. John and Andrea live in Richmond, Virginia, with their baby boy.

I want my children and their families to live forever, and I want each year to be fuller and happier than the year before.


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    Copyright © 2002, 2007 by Stephen E. Broyles. All rights reserved.
    Created November 5, 2002. Last updated January 6, 2009.