I miss writing, immensely. And I don’t mean writing for the sake of writing, because I could obviously do that here. I mean writing for others, writing for the paper, affecting people with my words.
The editorial below was published in the Thursday, June 18, 2009, edition of The Suffolk Times, the first and only editorial I’ve ever written. And, of all the things I’ve written/published/shared over the years, the piece I’m most proud of.
BY ANASTASIA HASSELL
My grandma always had this saying: “Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad.” Maybe it’s because of that sentiment, but I’ve always believed that it takes a really unique and caring person to take on the responsibility of someone else’s children, and to love them, unconditionally, as their own. I do have a father, but when I moved to New York, he stayed in California, and cross-country relationships aren’t easy to maintain.
I met Jason when I was 15. I actually yelled at him for parking on our lawn and told him he had to go. When he came back that night to see my mom, he told me his dog, Sam, was in the truck. Sam proceeded to bite me. Not a good first impression. I’d been through the wringer with these guys, no one was ever good enough, always pretending like they wanted to be a family, and in the end they never lasted.
Joey and Lexi, my siblings, were sold on Jason almost immediately. I think Joey was 6 and Lexi was 3 and they just adored Jason. I was older and harder to convince.
He was immediately different from every other guy my mom had dated. He didn’t try really hard to impress me or force the dad thing on me. He really didn’t do anything but love my mom. And he was always himself.
And he grew on me. He helped my mom throw me a wonderful Sweet 16 party, and didn’t force me to do the father/daughter stuff that was so foreign to me. He respected that I have a father and never tried to infringe upon that. He taught me to drive stick; I’m responsible for every gray hair he has. And when he decided he wanted my mom to be his wife, he wanted me to be OK with that. I’ve always said that Jason didn’t just court my mom when they were dating, he courted us also. He wasn’t just marrying her, he was making us a family.
And our family has grown: I have a wonderful stepsister, Sara; Jason adopted Joey and Lexi several years ago; and Jason and Mom gave us another beautiful brother, Wyatt.
I think the most important thing Jason ever taught me was about roles. Just because I loved him, and I wanted to call him Dad, it didn’t mean I was giving up my real father. And if I wasn’t comfortable calling Jason “Dad,” he respected that, and he’d never try to change my mind.
I would never be the person that I am without all the lessons Jason has taught me. And my life would truly be missing a key part without him in it. He never had to be there for me or my family, but for the last 10 years he has been. And maybe that’s why he means so much more to me. I love you, Dad.
Anastasia Hassell, a resident of Mattituck, is an editorial assistant for Times/Review Newspapers.