Dad. It’s an important job. The most important one.

I was eight years old the last time I called a man dad. He had adopted me after marrying my mother. It didn’t work out for long, he left, and I never heard from him again until I was twenty years old and I had hunted him down to find out why.

He just didn’t care.

I heard that he died a few years ago.

I was raised by women, and wild dogs. The flow of “uncles” in and out of my life was furious at times, steady at least, but never once did a “hero” or “man” darken our door.

So I was raised by the cowboys and soldiers and the good guys I saw in the movies. The kind of men that stood for what was right, opened doors for ladies and old folks and protected the little guys that could not protect themselves. Guys that would go the distance and beyond for a purpose or someone they loved. I loved those movies and hero’s and always wanted to be like them.

But then the movie would end and I was left to fight my own battles.

I lived over half a century before I met Ana’s dad. He is that guy, the imperfect human that does his absolute best always and loves his children. He does what is right, and he is fearless.

I was new to the family at that point, my intentions unknown, and I soon fell under the scrutiny of a large Brazilian family with protective brothers and sisters and cousins and uncles and aunts and maids.

Then Dad stepped in.

He measured me by my steps, not by the words of others. Based on those steps I earned my place, and he welcomed me into the family. It was done. I was his son now, and that was that.

Since that day he has been everything I could hope for a dad to be. Through the many evenings of bad English and far worse Portuguese, we have understood each other and solved the world’s problems, laughed at the best parts, and the worst ones. Together we get things done, take care of our women and little ones, and we walk down a street together completely at peace just spending time.

I love him. He is my Dad.