Shawn Steil is my hero.
Luckily for me, he's also my father.
He has taught me about what it means to be a man, a good husband. A father.
Most people meet their father's at birth, but I met my dad when I was eleven, in the fall of 1995, but he wasn't yet my father. No, he wouldn't hold that title for another few years. To be accurate, the idea of him as a father candidate wasn't even in my mind. He was just a guy that my mom was friends with, and oh heavens did he have a lot of kids.
Surely he wouldn't want another one.
(Or three. We were a package deal).
(Goodness, how I misjudged him).
I can't pinpoint the exact day or month or year that I began thinking of him as something more than my mom's friend, but eventually, it happened. Slowly I began to want his opinion, his help, his guidance. His fatherly guidance. I started asking him to throw the softball with me, to teach me how to parallel park, how to negotiate with my (now four) brothers.
I don't know the precise day, but I do know that it was sometime before July 2001.
Only July 25, 2001 Shawn Steil became my father, legally. At our request, he adopted me, along with my two brothers.
(Perhaps it's misleading to call it "at our request" because to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure who actually said it out loud first. All I know is that it was at his request, and it was at our request. We chose him to be our father; he chose us to be his kids).
Truly, it was one of the happiest days of our lives.
(And not just because we went to Bennigan's afterward).
Shawn Steil is my hero, yes. But more importantly, he is my father. My dad.
Happy Father's Day to my two fathers: the one who gave me life, and the one who gave me my life.
I will love you both, forever.