My parents got divorced when I was 6 and my mom and B got married when I was 9. We moved to a new state shortly after the wedding and all lived together until my first year of college (although my bro moved back to live with our dad when I was 16). We had some rocky times with discipline and other things, but generally I got along well with B. I remember going to the pool with him, watching football games, him teaching me to drive when I was 12 (the state we lived in issued learner permits to 14-year-olds, so he was teaching me how to drive!) He was even with me the time I fainted at the eye doctor's office!
When I went away to college, my mom and B were alone together for the first time with no kids and they split up before the year was out. B still helped pay for my remaining three years of college and sold my mom his part of the equity in our house. I've remained in touch with him since the divorce and see him every time we visit that part of adopted home state. B never had any biological kids, so my bro and me are his only kids (although B and bro were never close and don't keep in touch now). Basically, B is a very good person- he always treated me like his daughter- even through my teen years and after. He still exchanges Xmas cards with my grandma and came to my grandfather's funeral two years after the divorce. When H and I first got together, my mom wasn't speaking to me. My dad wasn't (and still isn't) speaking to me. It was the combination of getting pregnant early in our relationship and his skin color that disturbed them. My mom eventually came around (before D was born), but B was never upset with me. He never questioned my decision to marry H. He listened to my whole story over the phone- including how my mom wasn't talking to me. He was just supportive and wonderful. He even flew to PhD City to meet H, before he had to leave for his first TT job. I have come to appreciate him more as the years go by and I realize that he never had any obligation to me. He could have cut off all ties when he and mom got divorced, but he didn't. We have the same birthday and that has always been a fun connection for us, too.
Today, I found out that he's been in the hospital for a serious lung infection that required surgery (he went home yesterday after 8 nights in the hospital). He never likes to "bother" anyone with his health problems, so he instructed his wife, S, not to contact his stepmother, brother, friends, or me. I'm so glad she finally told me, but I feel terrible that he has been sitting in the hospital and I didn't call and send him something. I almost feel like flying out to see him now, but I am afraid that he will try to do too much if I am there and I should just let him recover first. My high school reunion (20 years) is in November, so I can see him then, but that is a long way off. I cried a lot this morning after the news sunk in. I always worry about him because he's a smoker and will be 65 this year. And the way he doesn't communicate bad news, I'm afraid that one day I'll get a call from S that he is gone.
I've also been feeling guilty today. That I haven't been as a good a daughter to him as he's been a father to me. Remembering stupid things I said as a teenager. Remembering visits when I was just in a bad mood and didn't feel like catching up. I'm so lucky to have a parent like B and I sure hope that he knows how much I appreciate him. I have no idea if this incident will have long-term health effects for him, but it sounds like the recovery will be slow. I wish I lived nearer so that I could stop by and check in or bring him things. One thing I will be doing is to make sure to call him more often to make sure things are OK. And trying to get out there to visit more often, too.
Ugh. This just sucks.