When I was a little girl, I often misunderstood the whole concept of love. Too often I heard those words spoken by my mother after a fight or thrown at me as a sort of apology. As far as my father was concerned, those words were entirely misused by people. Most times when I told him I loved him, I could see him cringe. For some reason those little words made him uncomfortable. He often told me to show him I loved him instead of saying it. So it did not take long for me to try and find other ways to communicate to him how much I adored him.
When I was 12 I decided to learn how to iron my dad's clothes. My mother had never done that, so I had very little guidance in that chore. I failed miserably when I chose to use the cotton setting on his silk shirt his deceased and adored grandmother had bought him. This act stands out in my memory because I am certain that was the first time I learned what earthly love was all about. I waited for my father to come home from work, and I had the shirt in my hand. I was scared to death and truly wanted to die. I waited for my father to yell, cry, or something. Instead he told me we needed more dishtowels anyway and said he wasn't mad at all. Nothing was ever said again about the matter. I think I knew in that instant that my father loved me. Though he never used those words, I never doubted it again. That was just how my dad was. He was never quick to anger, always willingly to listen, and I could tell him anything.
As some already know, I met my father when I was 2 years old. My mother was quite the woman to live with, and I remember asking him a few times why he chose her and why he stayed. He said he fell in love with me first, and then my mother. Those were the only times I heard that 4 letter word directed at me. What words for a daughter to hear. My father made every school conference, picked me up from school functions, and whenever I needed him, he would offer his ear. I don't recall him ever treating me like a child either. He believed that people would rise to what was expected of them, so he gave me respect, and in turn he received it back from me.
When Andy was born, I was pretty sure that my father would love him more because he was his biological son. I was used to being my mother's favorite, whatever that meant, and I already knew I was loosing that place. My mother had wanted a son her entire life, and when Andy came he quickly became the jewel of her eye. My dad adored him as well, but I never felt slighted by him. He must have told me and my sister a thousand times that he felt no differently about Andy than he did us. Besides we all adored Andy so much, it would not have mattered anyway. It was our whole family's goal to see that boy had everything he wanted and needed.
So, I come back around full force into my initial question about the definition of love. Of course, when that words creeps up, I can not help but think about my Oskar. I think about how people wonder if an adopted child could be loved as much as a biological child. Then I remember a little girl standing in the kitchen with a scorched silk shirt waiting for her father with tears in her eyes. I remember Andy coming home from the hospital and watching to see if my father loved him more. Then I feel really silly and I remember those words spoken long ago, " Shea Elizabeth, I probably should have walked away a long time ago, but I just could not leave you. I fell in love with you first and then your mother."
Love has no biological ties. Love doesn't have to be so hard. Love is a choice, a commitment. Love is hearing a man say he never had to stay, but he wasn't walking out on his daughter, his daughter by heart, not blood. Do I love Oskar as much as my other children? Hell Yes. After all, I am my father's daughter.