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Word Butter: Life would have been different without 'not-Pape Joe'

POSTED: April 28, 2017 4:43 p.m.

I was thinking the other day about how different my life would have been had my mom not married my stepfather.

What is a stepfather anyway? It’s just a new dad...not a replacement for the old one. Maybe, more like a supplement or an enhancement to the previous situation.

In my case, my mother, my brother and myself were just getting by. Being a single mom is not an easy task, and it’s even harder when your “ex” is no help whatsoever. I can’t imagine what my mom dealt with on a daily basis.

And then along came Billy Morrison. He was willing to not only take on a new wife, but her two kids as well. The first time we – meaning my brother, Greg, and I – met him, Greg asked him, point blank, “Are you gonna marry my mama?”

Despite that horrific question, Billy stuck around. And he did marry our mama. He eventually adopted Greg and me. And somewhere along the way, he became “Daddy.”  (Side note: We asked him what we should call him, and he said, “Anything but Papa Joe.” I have no idea why.)

I have often wondered what my life would have been like if Billy Morrison hadn’t come along. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

• I wouldn’t have the last name Morrison.

• I wouldn’t have grown up in Lincolnton, Ga., thereby making me a lifelong Red Devil fan.

• I wouldn’t really understand how to divide words into syllables – somehow I didn’t get that in school, and Daddy sat with me for a loooong time, working with me until the proverbial light bulb came on.

• I wouldn’t know I dislike tomato juice. Daddy made me try it once. A whole glass of it. He didn’t want me to waste it after I’d ordered it in a restaurant. I thought it was pretty.

• I wouldn’t understand that if someone squeezes me really hard, it makes me tinkle. Thanks a lot for that one, Daddy.

• I wouldn’t be a safe driver. Daddy made me drive in circles in the American Legion parking lot until I perfected the needed skills.

• I’d still have braces. Daddy drove me to the orthodontist to have them removed.

• I would have dated much more in high school, but I’d probably have gotten hurt much more, too. Dating is risky business.

• I wouldn’t have a baby brother named Benny. Can’t imagine my life without the little twerp.

And last, but not least, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Every little girl is shaped, at least a little, by her relationship with her daddy. I’m no exception to that.

I read somewhere that anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a daddy. It takes someone even more special to be a stepfather.

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