Throughout my life, “Father Figure” has been an evolving term. At nine, the loss of my biological father left me grappling with an abstract notion of fatherhood, rooted in scattered memories and recounted tales. The entrance of my stepfather later painted a more nuanced picture, emphasizing not just familial ties but also connection, understanding, and shared experiences. But his untimely recent departure left the phrase “Father Figure” more ambiguous than ever.

The absence of a living grandfather and the loss of my godfather stripped away my reference points. Who would now be the guiding light? The mentor? The compass?

In the whirlwind of these emotions, clarity emerged from the eyes of my sons, Andriel and Archael. They transformed my outlook, anchoring me as their guide, protector, and compass. Andriel’s autistic worldview taught me that a father’s essence transcends societal norms, emphasizing adaptability and unwavering love. Archael, with his keen intellect, showcases the endless opportunities ahead and the guidance he’ll seek.

As I move ahead, I recognize my multi-faceted role in their lives. Beyond being a mentor, protector, or provider, I must anchor their world. Demonstrating my profound love for their mother, I aim to instill in them the value of cherished relationships. They need to understand that setbacks are part of growth and that I’m steadfastly by their side, supporting their journeys, however they may unfold.

Their distinct personalities highlight the importance of recognizing individual strengths. Through these differences, they’ll forge their paths. As their principal male role model, every day I’ll work to ensure they appreciate their unique gifts as strengths.

In my quest to understand “Father Figure,” it’s clear that its meaning refines daily through my interactions with Andriel and Archael. It’s an expedition of love, growth, and legacy - a path I’m wholeheartedly committed to, building a foundation they can turn to in years to come.