I grew up without a father in my life. I knew I had one, and he knew he had me, but I did not meet him until I was 18. Ironically, I met my real father at the celebration of life wake for the man who was most like a father figure to me. My Uncle Bob who was no real blood relation at all, was the father figure in my life that I still cherish and remember fondly to this day.
Uncle Bob was an avid sportsman, he loved to fish and hunt with a bow and arrow. He painted his face with camouflage before hunting as he sat up in a tree stand in the deep woods of norther Minnesota. My Uncle Bob would take me fishing, he would take me into the forest with him to scout for hunting spots and he made me feel as if I were his partner in crime. We were friends and I knew that he loved me even though I was not his.
This man I called Uncle Bob was my mom’s best friends husband. They both took me under their wings and helped my single mom out as much as she needed. They never made me feel like I was a pain or an inconvenience although I am sure I was at times. I remember one year when I was in elementary school my Auntie Max came to pull me out of school early. I was confused but ecstatic, this sort of thing never happened to me unless I was sick.
Auntie Max walked me back to their home which was just a few blocks from school so that I could help my Uncle Bob with his hunting success. He had taken a large buck with his bow and now needed some assistance from his little helper, me. I had not felt this special very often and at that age most people do not think to ask and 9-year-old to help skin a deer.
But my Uncle Bob knew that I needed him some how and he stepped up to fill those shoes even though he had no obligation to. He was not in a relationship with my mom, he had no ulterior motives but to befriend a little girl who desperately needed one. I felt so important as I held the horns of this buck to keep it still as he went to work doing what was necessary. I am not a hunter now, but I know that he was not killing because he liked to, he was hunting to feed his family.
My ‘adopted aunt and uncle’ where not wealthy but they always freely shared what they had with my mom and I including feeding us with fish fry’s and being generous with their time and attention. My Uncle Bob’s efforts to be in my life shaped my love of nature. I remember him waking me up in the still dark early morning hours telling me to get dressed we are going out nightcrawler picking. We walked to the spot and he handed me a flash light and went to town picking them out of the grass getting enough for the weekend of fishing.
He was with me when I caught my first Northern Pike, oh man that was a fun memory! He was there for me when my mom and Auntie Max where out working night time hours together doing what needed to be done. Me and Uncle Bob would watch Boxing on HBO in the 80’s when it was really good stuff! He used to watch Wrestling too which he called Rassling as I still do, to this day.
This man was not my father, but I will always be who I remember as my father figure. My Uncle Bob was amazing, kind and generous. Maybe I was just lucky, or I looked at him through rose colored glasses of a very young girl looking for a positive male figure in my life. Even if someone else has a different perspective of the situation I still have mine that I hold dear in my heart.
I had moved away from my home town of Virginia Minnesota when I was a teenager. Every time we would go back to visit our family my mom would ask “Do you want to go say Hi to Uncle Bob?” And every time I would say “Yes!”
Towards the end of his life (he passed too early of a heart attack) he had saved enough money to start his own business. He chosen to open a pet store. His love of animals and nature shaped who I am at the core of my being. The last time I saw him, he was sitting in his pet store called The Menagerie. We visited for a bit and had to hit the road. But we never once parted without giving each other our signature big ole bear hug! I am thankful for that.
The things he taught me, respect nature, to respect animals and only take what you need. Led to my love of animals and the environment that has carried me to my purpose. I was called to voice my opinion and avid disagreement of mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Which led me to where I am right now, campaigning and running or office so that I can do all I can to protect the environment and speak up for what and who do not have a voice.
So, all of you men out there who think your actions or time spent with children does not matter. You are wrong. The future generation depends on your participation the way you act or contribute will be forever remembered in a young person’s life. You do not have to be blood and you can still make a giant difference in the world and theirs. I want you to know that. There are great men in this world. I wish to see more of them stepping up and doing what others don’t think they have to.
I am lucky enough to have married a man who’s done the same for my daughter. I met my husband when my daughter was 11. He does ‘Dad things’ because he knows his role in our daughter’s life is important and it matters every day. He knows that being consistent and dependable and loving are the best thing in the world for us and even for him. He learned this from his dad.
To all you men out there who step up and do Dad stuff that isn’t your responsibility or try to be the best Uncle EVER! Thank you.
You matter so much more then you know. I see you. I salute you. Good job.
Happy Father’s Day.
Wishing you an abundance of joyful blessings,
Emy Minzel ~ Adventure Sister
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Stacy Crep ~ Adventure Sister