Gene Dickinson was my father and he passed away yesterday. I call him my father because that is who he was to me. Technically was my stepfather but my love for him and his love for me was that of a father. He married my mom in 1967 when I was nine years old, and my sister was twelve. He was a very dear man to me because I knew he always loved me as his own.
I will never forget the first time we were going somewhere together after he and my mom married, and he introduced me as his son. Not his stepson, but his son. I was never able to express to him what that simple introduction meant to a young boy. He gave me a sense of belonging that me and my sister needed, and we never doubted his love for us. I have many fond memories of time spent together with Gene that will stay with me for the rest of my life. My daughters referred to him as papa and he loved them just like they were his own, because they were.
After the divorce between my biological father and my mom, we as a three-person family were trying to put the pieces of our lives back together and find our new place in the world. Before the divorce we lived in Atlanta Georgia but after the divorce, my mom moved me and my sister to Memphis TN to be near her family. Looking back, my mom was such a rock in our lives but now realize that she was younger than my two daughters are today. As a father, it would terrify me if my daughters went through that life altering change.
Gene came into our lives in 1967 while my mom worked at the Rexall drug store in Memphis. Gene was the Coca Cola delivery man on that route, and they met and started dating. They were married in December of 1967 and he had a profound impact on our lives. I will be forever grateful that God put him in our life and helped my mom, my sister and me pick up the pieces on a new life. He always told me to never take life for granted and live it to the fullest. Having him, helped me do just that. KT