The Father Figure

by Arnold Nelson


A storyof 6 special nieces. The love and support we gave each other.

I have five sisters and two brothers. I have many nieces and nephews almost too many to count. There are six nieces that have made me feel like a father figure to them. We are very close and that always makes me feel good. I will tell you about them one at a time. I have decided for reasons of privacy I will not use their names in this story. Anybody that knows my family will know who I'm talking about. These six ladies have always been very special, I love all my nieces and nephews, but I am closer to the six for various reasons. They have given me so much love and understanding through the years, if I have given half of it back to them I am happy.

The first is the one closest to me. When she was born her mother made me her godfather and I have always taken that very seriously. For reasons I don't understand her father never wanted anything to do with her. I never had much money but I always spent as much time as I could with her especially during their first six or seven years of her life. Most of time we lived about an hour and a half apart and I would drive up there a couple times a month and spend the weekend with them. She loved it. When I was there it didn't matter where I was going or what I had to do she wanted to be with me. Most of the time she was. She told me recently in a Father's Day message that the reason she didn't miss her real father was because I was always there for her.. That message was only about a paragraph long, but it took me close to half an hour to read it the first time. It was so beautiful I kept crying then I had to stop and wipe tears away from my eyes so I could continue. No one has ever written anything that beautiful for me and it really touched me deeply. She recently had a baby and now I'm a grandfather of a beautiful little girl and I could not be happier. It was hard realizing I'm not the most important man in her life anymore. That is the way it should be and I have accepted it. She has a husband now and he is the most important man in her life.

The second Niece has told me many times that I was a father figure for her. She has recently gone through some bad times but has come out on top. She just had a wedding in Scotland. When I heard about it I was wishing I could have been there to share her joy. When she was a baby and her mother walked into a room with her, as soon as her mother saw me sitting there, first thing she did was put her down in my lap. We developed a strong bond while she was growing up. Her parents divorce when she was a young child. Then he died when she was a young lady. He had diabetes and it finally took him from his daughters he love so much. She leaning on me even more after her father's death. Then her mother married another man with diabetes unfortunately he did not live very long either. Like I said earlier she went through some bad times she divorced her first husband and it took her a long time to get adjusted to that. She started doing things to make herself feel more attractive and better. It worked. She met her second husband and they recently got married and they seem to be very happy together and that makes me happy. She once sent me some flowers for fathers day. This year she put a nice card on Facebook.

The third niece has told me that I and only father figure she ever had. When she was a toddler her parents divorced and her mother would not let her father anywhere near her and her brother. When the father finally started coming around. She told him she wanted nothing to do with him, he wasn't there when she needed him so now she doesn't want anything to do with him. She married young and had four children. Then everything started falling apart. Her husband left her, she was into drugs, the state took her kids from her, and she was living on the street. For a while she wasn't even talking to her mother or her brother. She just kept getting on Facebook and yelling and screaming for someone to help her out and help her get her kids back. Finally I got to the point that I was going to unfriend her because I was tired of all the yelling and screaming. The day I was going to do it God spoke to me and he said don't unfriend her she is just about the change and when she does she's going to need you. So I listened to God and he was right. Within about a week her Facebook entries were not so much shouting and screaming anymore. She went to live with some old friends who are like family to her. They helped her get back on her feet, clean herself up and get her kids back. It was at about this time that I learned she was bipolar. When I found that out I could understand part of what was going on with her. I remember the day she put on Facebook that she had her four kids back I just sat there and cried I was so happy for her. I wrote a story, it is a four-part story, one part about each of her kids. It is called The Rainbow Genie. The kids find an old teakettle and when they were cleaning it a genie popped out. He granted each of the kids a wish. First he took the kids to the Grand Canyon and showed him all around the Grand Canyon. Then he took the kids to Disneyland and they got to see all around Disneyland and even ride a float. Then they went to see the Daytona 500, a NASCAR race, and the next day they got to meet one of the top NASCAR drivers, Ride in a race car, and ask him questions. When it came time for the youngest one to get her trip all she wanted was money to help her mother. The rainbow Genie explained that he was only a second class Genie and could only grant trips. Finally he asked her if she wanted to see Santa Claus. She loved that idea so they went to the North Pole. I wrote the story as a special gift because I was so happy their family was back together again. I really could not do much for her except support her and tell her that I loved her. I also told her many times how proud I was of her. I still do that every chance I get. I am so very proud of her she worked hard and picked herself up when she hit bottom. Now she is doing very well, her kids are very happy. She also worked to help her brother get off drugs. I am proud of him too. They both went through some bad times and they are both doing real good now. She is also talking to her mother again.

The fourth niece is a mother of my goddaughter. She is bipolar and has been struggling with it since she was a baby. I don't know how we got so close, but we have always been very close. I have always been there for her, always supported her. She was on the street for a while because of the bipolar stuff, eventually she pulled her life together. She got married and had a son. Shortly after he was born the marriage fell apart. She had a relationship with another man and she had her daughter. She was happy she had a son and a daughter and that was all she wanted. At first she stayed home with them all the time and collected welfare. When they got older she started working. The problem was when she started working she wanted to work all the extra hour she could and that took a toll on her. She was in and out of the hospital a lot. I always wished she would've taken more time to get her problems in order, but her family was more important as soon as possible she was back working. She finally completed her studies and became a psych tech. She was still working all these extra hours to provide for her family and it finally took a toll on her. She ended up being hospitalized for a couple months. The kids went to live with one of her sisters and then her mother and stepfather. As soon as she could she got another apartment and got her kids back and went right back in the same mess she was in before, working way too many hours. Her son left home and then her daughter got married. It was not a very good marriage and it wasn't long before her daughter was back with her mother again. Finally someone told my sister, who was her mother, you either sign her up for some serious treatment or she will be in the morgue. She went through electric shock treatment, she said it was terrible. She said she lost part of her memory because of the treatment. I think most of the memory came back. She was finally certified as not being able to work so she got a disability from the state and found a small apartment. She lived that way for a while. She had doctors who kept changing her medication trying to find something that would help her smooth out the peaks and valleys so she could survive. She also had doctors she could talk to and she was also into group therapy. All of these things helped her smooth out her life. She was not happy she wanted to get back to work. She did not want to live this way the rest of her life. Finally she got back to work. Her daughter moved back in with her and they helped each other. She knows now she can't work the long hours so she keeps turning them down when they try to give them to her. Through all these things she went through I kept in touch with her, I kept on telling her how much I loved her and proud I was of her. She is very happy working now and taking care of her granddaughter when she can, and looking forward to the next stage of her life. The next stage being retirement.

The fifth niece I've always been close to. Her parents have one of the best marriages I've ever seen. Her father is like a big brothers to me. They had been married over 55 years and are still very very happy together. A little over 30 years ago she got married. They have a very happy marriage too. They have a son and two beautiful daughters and they're all doing well. She is one of those ladies that likes to keep up with everybody and everything. We don't talk as much as we used to. I still enjoyed talking to her anytime she has time to talk.

The last niece I wanted to talk about is a youngest daughter of the fifth niece. I have always felt very close to her. They used to come out to Bullhead City quite often, when I was living there. We had some great times together. We even went on vacation one time to Zion National Park. I remember about 10 years ago I had the opportunity to say the prayers before both of the NASCAR races in Las Vegas that weekend. I said the first prayer on Saturday, it was on the Armed Forces network so it went worldwide.. After the prayer I sat up on some bleachers in the infield and watched about half of the race. Then the rains came and they stopped the race. I decided I had enough. I went back to my room and almost as soon as I got back to my room. My sister called to tell me she saw me on TV and to tell me what a good job she thought I did. That made me feel real good. A few minutes later the fifth niece called and she had to tell me how good she thought I did and how nice it was to see me on TV. Then we hung up. A few minutes later the phone rang again, I picked it up, it was the fifth niece. The sixth niece wanted to talk to me to and tell me what a good job she thought I did. That really made me feel good.

The six ladies have always been very special to me. I wish I could have help them financially when they needed it. I never did have much money, But I gave them all the support and the love I could and told him how proud I was as often as I could. If I gave them half of the love and support that they gave me then I am very happy. When I look at those ladies I think I must have done something right, because they are all fine women and if I have helped them at all and I am happy.

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