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Father's Day

My Stepdad: A Man of Character

Laura Petherbridge

Contributing Writer - My parents divorced when I was eight. When I was 15, my mom started dating a man she met at work, I liked him right away. That was 40 years ago.

Tom isn’t perfect. He can be a little stubborn and he picks the worst pizza parlors. However, his character far outweighs any small flaws.

My stepdad has shown me that a man of character is:


If Tom has a bill to pay, the check will be in the mail before it’s due. And if he says he will be somewhere, wild hoses can’t keep him from showing up.


When I was a teen, I shared a secret with Tom. My dad and his new wife were going to have a baby and I was very worried my mom would be upset when she found out. I asked him not to tell her.  Even al-Qaeda couldn’t have dragged it out of him.


Tom is in his mid-70’s, but that doesn’t stop him from helping others. Whether it’s walking a neighbor’s dog, driving a friend to the doctor, or taking out someone’s trash, Tom is there to lend a hand. And he does it with a smile.


When my nieces and nephew were younger, Tom would spend hours having fun with them. He would walk Maria in her stroller until she fell asleep. Then head off to his demanding job as a superintendant at General Motors.


Tom rarely says a negative word about anyone. He was raised in a good family that taught him, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.”


I grew up near Buffalo, NY. One time when I was 16, I accidentally told my mom the wrong store at which she could pick me up.  She was at work when I discovered the error and this was long before cell phones. I left a message at the factory where she worked, not knowing if she got it. Awhile later I discovered a heavy snowstorm had blown in. How would I get home in this near blizzard?

As time slowly passed I anxiously awaited at the designated meeting spot. I didn’t see my mom, but a tall, familiar sight was walking straight towards me. It was Tom! I was never so happy to see that bald head and beige trench coat.

He had driven a long distance, in horrible icy weather, just to come and get me. I cried.

Sometimes a foolish girl just needs to be rescued, doesn’t she?

That’s what Jesus does for us. He left the cozy comfort of heaven, and came to the turmoil of earth, just to rescue us.

On this Father’s Day, I want to thank the Lord for my stepdad, Tom. He always shows me love, and he often reveals glimpses of Jesus in his character. I love you, Tom.

Laura Petherbridge

Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on stepfamilies, relationships, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery. She is the author of When "I Do" Becomes "I Don't"—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce, and The Smart Stepmom, co-authored with Ron Deal. She is a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series. Her Web site is

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