My dad's having heart surgery today. The latest in replacement body parts for him comes in the form of a heart valve. He'll be on my mind all day.

But it wasn't always the case. My mother picked me up and left him when I was just a toddler. I never heard from him until the eve of my high school graduation. I didn't actually meet him until halfway through college. And those first few conversations were stilted, gap-filled exercises in getting past complete strangers to something resembling father and son.

And while it took years for us to get here, I'd be lying if I told you I didn't still harbor quiet feelings of bitterness at a childhood robbed of the family I thought I should've had. I still get pissed off when I think about how different my life would be today if I'd been able to grow up with my own father and while I love him dearly, part of me will probably never forgive him for it. (Or my mother, for that matter, but that's another story.)

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