I know it’s, like, noon and how annoying is old June, keeping you guessing about when she’s gonna post? The fact is, I had a dental procedure this morning, early, and the thought of going to work after, all numb and also headachy from holding my body completely stiff in utter terror for two hours with the total Shroud of Turin sweat all along the back of me sounded less than desirable, and at this point I just kind of wonder how long I can keep this sentence going. Anyway, so I took a personal day.

As I waited for my crown to cook (my dentist does same-day crowns. It’s the best. But you have to wait while he glazes it and has sex with Patrick Swayze) I made a list of shit I hadda do. So once I was done, with a numb mouth and a slight headache from holding my body prone and a Shroud of Turin backside, I headed to the pet store where I got cat food and flea meds.

As soon as I got home I realized I am also out of cat litter.

Goddammit.

But all this riveting info is not why I’ve gathered you all here. I’ve gathered you here to tell you that today is my stepfather’s birthday.

Gather ye stepfathers while ye may

I feel like I don’t talk about my stepfather Harry much, and that is mostly because he is a saint and there are no funny stories to tell about that time he was an asshole or anything.

When I was 11 or 12, I forget which, my parents got a divorce, and if you’re ever looking to write a How to Screw Up Your Kid handbook, try getting a divorce when said kid is 11 or 12. What abandonment issues?

DON’T GO! ARE YOU QUITTING ME, READER?! NOOOOO!

Anyway.

My mother was in her early 30s and hot, so once she was single she dated through the years, but always appropriately. I mean, men would come to the door and say hello and then take her out. There were no, you know, men lying about, giving the place atmosphere.

And since you’ve all been here awhile you’ve seen my taste in men, and I don’t go for the traditional alpha at all. Blech. Give me the nervous creative genius. But my mother didn’t go for traditional, either.

{Here is where we’d add a montage of the men at our doorway, men who came to pick up my mother for dates, and they’d have on flowing caftans, or no shoes, or be strumming Godspell on a guitar and so on.}

(There was one nice guy she dated who always brought me junk food, and even after he and my mother were no longer an item he’d take me out to the restaurant of my choice sometimes, which always meant Arby’s or Burger King. I mention him because I think he reads me and I always appreciated his kindness and don’t want him to think I just lumped him in with the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar that came to our door circa 1976–1982.)

So the summer I turned 16, I walked into the house and there was my stepfather Harry, future–ftr.–sitting at our dining room table and my very first thought about him was, “Pfft. Yeah, this one will last.”

He looked so normal. I think he even had on a button-down oxford. I mean, he had health insurance and shoes and dental hygiene and didn’t try to read my aura. Someone they both know had fixed them up; he’d been a blind date. Surely my mother was not going to hitch her wagon to this star.

But she did. Six months later they were married. Okay, in a field with a peace sign. Still. They got married.

I remember storming in hysterically the summer they were dating. Storming in hysterically describes 90% of my arrivals throughout high school. I was upset because Cardinal had gone on a family vacation for THREE ENTIRE WEEKS and how was I going to get through each lonely day and so on.

Harry, my stepfather, ftr., said, “Do you want to talk about it?”

I was completely taken aback. Did I want to talk about it? I had no idea adults could be so, you know, understanding.

And then of course I didn’t talk about it. “No, I’m fine,” I said, then went upstairs to throw self across bed despondently.

News flash: I got through the three weeks with the help of General Hospital and a reflective tanning mat.

But that really sums up my stepfather. He always surprises me with his kindness. He paid my college loans off in one fell swoop. I’d had to take loans because when they got married, first my stepfather put my mother through school to get her master’s, and then he went to medical school. But by the time I was done with college, which took me 400 years to do, he was a doctor and able to cover my loans. All of them. With no fanfare whatsoever. “Send me the bill.” That was it.

He also paid for my entire wedding without ever once saying, “HOW much is this gonna cost?”

A truly awful photo of both of us. You’re welcome.

There have been times I have been upset, and with one sentence my stepfather has summed up what was wrong with me and I hadn’t even been aware that that’s what it was.

There have also been times he’s told me things in just one sentence that have changed how I look at the world, forever.

This is one of my all-time favorite photos of my stepfather, Marvin and my Uncle Bill. Orange you glad I showed it to you?

So, today being his birthday and all, my stepfather has been on my mind. It can’t be easy being a quiet, unassuming person in my family of loud, assuming people, but I’m glad he put on a tunic and marched through that field and married my mother by the power vested in karma or whatever they said that day, because I’m a better person for having known him.

Happy birthday, Harold. Peace.

Love,
Your favorite stepchild,
June

91 thoughts on “There’s something about Harry

  1. Megsie says:

    Hope Harry had a wonderful day, and I hope he read this and felt pride…he should be proud of his legacy!

    Lovely post, lovely June!

    Like

  2. Ruth says:

    Happy birthday to Harry. There should be way more men like him around.

    Like

  3. 1madgirl says:

    Behind the times but am glad the comments are still open so I can tell you what a heartwarming salute this is to a beautiful soul. Thanks for sharing it.

    Like

  4. Sue says:

    What a great post. You are such a gifted writer and this was a beautiful tribute to your stepfather. It especially touched me because I also had a wonderful stepfather- for almost 40 years. He passed away four years ago but I am so grateful for having him for all the years that I did.

    Thanks for sharing your life (and talent) with us.

    Like

  5. Deb says:

    Happy birthday, Harry!!

    Shroud of Turin. Ded. All ded.

    Like

  6. The Poet says:

    How do you manage to write something that’s so funny and moving at the same time? Juno, you are the Curly Girl David Sedaris.

    Happy birthdays, Harry.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. DeDe says:

    Lovely, lovely post, Joob.
    Happy birthday Harold!

    Like

  8. Anonymous says:

    There are good step parents in this world. You are lucky to have had Harold. I was fortunate to have a wonderful step-mother and so relate to your relationship with Harold.

    Like

  9. Step parenting is hard. But he seems to have had it figured out from the start.

    I had to get a filling yesterday, THEN get a tetanus shot. Then I got a headache from being so tense. So yesterday was dumb.

    Happy belated to Harry.

    Lovely post curly Joon.

    Like

    1. June says:

      Tetanus shots are horrific. I’d rather just have the lockjaw.

      Like

  10. Ashley C. says:

    I also vote we have a “Pam’s Wedding” post because I’m DYING to see those pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sandra in Naples says:

      Yes, was thinking exact same thing!

      Like

  11. Ashley C. says:

    Oh lord. As a fairly new step-mother (who is starting to have a really sweet, fun relationship with her step-daughter) that made my eyes leak. Just a little. Thanks for sharing, June and Happy Birthday Harry!!

    Like

  12. cj.steinke@yahoo.com says:

    what a lovely tribute to your stepfather! you have such a gift for storytelling. thank you for sharing that gift with all of us!

    Like

  13. kathygk says:

    Loved this!
    Happy birthday to Harry.

    Like

  14. Leo says:

    Thank you, June. Everybody loves Saint Harry!

    Like

  15. pendy says:

    What a lovely post; he sounds like such a nice man.

    Like

  16. Kym says:

    This is fabulous.

    Like

  17. Anonymous says:

    That was just beautiful. Warmed my heart.

    Like

  18. Kate says:

    Loved this post. What a great guy!

    Like

  19. L.in CA says:

    Awwww how sweet. Happy Birthday Harry!

    Like

  20. Anonymous says:

    What a wonderful tribute. Particularly enjoyed the Godspell reference; was always more partial to it than JCSS. Lovely post, lovely June.

    Like

  21. Lurkie Lou says:

    the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar that came to our door circa 1976-1982

    That line deserves an award.

    Like

  22. Carol in Mpls says:

    Happy birthday Harry! June, you’ve sent Harry a lovely “thank you” for some of the ways he’s made your/Mother’s life better. Clearly he has been a great addition to your family. Those ringlet curls do look pretty fab.

    Like

  23. Steve's wife, Beth says:

    Elisabeth Shue or Kyra Sedgwick?

    Lovely post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mother says:

      I’ve always thought June and Elizabeth Shue look very much alike. Did anyone see “Adventures in Babysitting”? Thank you for your beautiful tribute to our dear Harry. I bless the day I found him.

      Like

  24. Just Paula H&B says:

    I’m verklempt. I now adore Harry.

    Like

  25. Koala Raspberry says:

    Forgot to say Happy Birthday, Harry, stepfather extraordinaire. And also, lovely tribute post, lovely Joon of the gorgeous hair.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Your mother’s neighbor says:

    Harry (also our neighbor) is a gentle, kind and very funny man. Many happy returns, Harry!

    Like

  27. Texas Kari says:

    Perhaps Harry could offer the rest of us some wisdom for dealing with our problems!
    What a cool guy! HBD, Harry!

    Like

  28. Vicky in DE says:

    “As I waited for my crown to cook (my dentist does same-day crowns. It’s the best. But you have to wait while he glazes it and has sex with Patrick Swayze)” —- this may possibly be the single best thing I’ve ever read in the history of my 53 years on Planet Earth. You have a knack my friend.

    Like

  29. Lisa from Texas says:

    Wonderful! Sweet! i’m glad there are such good men in the world.

    Like

  30. Linda in CO says:

    I wish I had your ability to let the people you love know how much you appreciate them, June. It’s a gift.
    Happy birthday Harry. It sounds like your marrying Pam was a big win for everyone. Have a wonderful year.
    Lovely post.

    Like

  31. elimysmommy says:

    I’ve cancelled a dentist appointment twice now because I can’t seem to gather the mental fortitude I’ll need to sit through it. I hate going to the dentist.

    And happy birthday to your stepfather. I’m glad you have him in your life.

    Like

  32. Cheryl says:

    Your mom is a lucky woman to share her life with a nice guy. They are few and far between. And you know? He actually looks like a doctor!

    Like

  33. Sadie says:

    June, I think you and Pam owe thanks to the friend who originally fixed them up. What a lovely birthday tribute to Harry. Happy birthday, Harry. May you celebrate many more.

    Like

  34. banne4 says:

    Awww Happy Birthday, Harry!
    I have always loved Harry – since I first met him – I think in the 80’s – maybe 88 with my brother…. He is a saint.
    But your mom is amazing too and deserves him!

    Like

    1. Jooooooonnn says:

      I just remember when they were still dating, gramma saying, “You know why you’re bald, Harry…” and then delivering her cockamamie theory du jour. And yet Harry stayed on.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. banne4 says:

        He is a sweetheart!

        Like

  35. krakkityjones says:

    I wish I had a “Harold” in my life, too. I hope he gets to read the post, as I know it would make me feel good to read such lovely words being said about me. By the way, your hair does look gorgeous in that photo. But, I always think your hair looks gorgeous. My hair is stick straight and I must put many products in it to get it to look anything but flat. I know, we always want what we don’t have. Truly lovely post, June.

    Like

  36. capelover says:

    Loved this post. Happy Birthday Harry! June was fortunate to have such a nice man come into her life, especially during the teen years.
    I agree with everyone your hair was spectacular in the last picture! Also, such a great picture of all!

    Like

  37. Koala Raspberry says:

    I just awoke at 12:45 so this is perfect for me. I was up at 6:00, went back to sleep around 7:00. I had hard coffee last night AND ice cream. My stomach was not happy this AM. Anywho, your timing was perfect for me.
    I was a fairly belligerent, mouthy teenager at times and I always thought I would be all , “You’re not my father!” if I ended up with a stepfather which I did not…but how could you ever be to such a great guy? You and Pam were very fortunate to have such a great guy come in to your lives! Everyone went to school, he paid for your school loans and wedding! Wow!
    Your hair does look amazing in that last picture.
    Inquiring minds need to know if those orange shirts were planned or a coincidence? Burgundy is my father’s break out color.

    Like

  38. gladyswhoisalsobee says:

    Lovely post, Coot.

    What a wonderful person your Harry is. When I saw this was going to be a post about Harry, I thought you were talking about the other Harry. You know the one married to Meghan.

    Your hair looked marvelous. You looked gorgeous. How cute are the boys in orange?

    Okay that’s all for today, I have to go back to grandmothering and shit.

    Like

  39. Kris in TN says:

    This is such a lovely post and I’m glad that Harry “stepped” in as your dad!

    Like

  40. DG says:

    I admired how great your hair looked as well. What a great tribute to your stepfather, as a quiet stepmother to 4 very assuming stepchildren, I would be happy to receive a quarter of this praise someday.

    Like

  41. elsiejb says:

    Happy birthday, Harry!

    Like

  42. Jeanie Herkomer says:

    Truly a lovely tribute, June. Happy birthday, Harry! You sound like the most wonderful man ever made. No wonder Pam married you. June, you go to the dentist like I do, all stiff and sweaty and shit.

    Like

  43. Pam not that Pam says:

    well, shit, this is the best thing ever. Happy Birthday, Harry! It takes a great man to marry into all that! 🙂

    (I, too, had the most wonderful stepfather in all the land, for 36 years until he had an affair and my mom divorced him and then he died like 8 years later but I never saw him again so I miss him.)

    Like

  44. mamaro829 says:

    Happy Birthday to Harry! He sounds like a great man!

    Like

  45. Linda from Jamestown says:

    Very sweet – happy birthday, Harry!

    Like

  46. Anonymous says:

    Happy birthday, Harry! I loved this post! : )

    Like

  47. Anonymous says:

    Great tribute for a great man
    Xmil

    Like

    1. Joooooon says:

      XMIL!!

      Like

  48. Shannon Silver says:

    There were no, you know, men lying about, giving the place atmosphere. <– *snicker*

    Awww, to the old suitor who still brought some junk food and probably reads.

    Awwwwwwwwww, Harry! We should all be so lucky to have a Harry in our lives. Happy Birthday!!

    Like

  49. dbinmd says:

    Happy Birthday, June’s stepdad!!

    Lovely post.

    Like

  50. Tee Smith says:

    Happy birthday, Harry/Harold. This is a wonderful tribute to your stepfather. Obviously, he has made quite an impact on your life and didn’t add to the trauma of divorce to you.

    I’m about to leave for the final step of my trail of terror, the crown to the implant that started last SEPTEMBER. I understand your terror.

    Like

  51. Beth from the woods says:

    Thank you Harry for taking June into your heart.
    Glad she has you.
    Happy Birthday.
    June you guys look alike……..HAPPY.

    Like

  52. llbrat says:

    Lovely post. If I were a step-parent, I can’t imagine a better tribute.

    Like

  53. rantymel says:

    I think we’ll all be wild about Harry now after this beautiful tribute.
    Happy birthday, Harry!
    Your hair did look fabulous.

    Like

  54. Door Color Expert Andrea says:

    Happy Birthday, Harry! May you have many years of peace, happiness and Pam and June in your future!

    Great tribute there, Jooooon!

    Like

  55. Katie says:

    Now I love Harry too. Lovely post, June.

    Like

  56. Fay says:

    Lovely post, Joob. Happy birthday Harold!

    Like

  57. Hot in AZ says:

    Awww.

    Like

  58. Barbara says:

    Great hair, great stepfather. Happy Birthday!

    Like

  59. bettydh says:

    Love that last picture. You all look so happy. Happy Birthday Harold!

    Like

  60. Georgia says:

    As a child of multiple divorces I’ve had a wide range of step parents. It is HARD to be a good one.
    You must be a good dude Harry. Happy birthday. Many many more!

    Like

  61. lisapie76 says:

    Yes, your hair is fantastic in that last photo. I, too, am the product of having great step parents. Thank God for step parents stepping in and helping raise lost teenagers.
    Happy birthday, Harry!

    Like

  62. Steph in Florida says:

    I have two stepchildren and although I have probably failed miserably I strive to be like Harry. What an amazing step dad you have!!

    Like

  63. Helen says:

    What a lovely tribute. A really wonderful step-father is a rare thing to find. Especially one who comes into a family in the midst of teen angst and all, and hangs in there. I am lucky that my husband, crnt. is one to my daughter. In fact, I’m pretty sure the two of them get up togther and plot against me.

    Happy Birthday Harry – thanks for being just who June needed.

    Like

  64. Seattle Steve (Day by day... Day by day...... Oh dear lord, three things I pray) says:

    Wonderful post. He’s the type of man I want to be.

    BTW Love that the two references to hippy suiters were musicals! And perfectly appropriate.

    Like

  65. Mary Ellen from Napa says:

    Your step father sounds like a wonderful man! I hope I find someone as wonderful someday. Happy birthday, Harry!

    Like

    1. Koala Raspberry says:

      Me too!

      Like

  66. bobb1jd says:

    Nice, June. Glad you have each other. He seems sensitive. Bet his patients love him.

    Like

  67. Kim says:

    Very lucky. My step dad is better than my father and a wonderful grandfather.

    Like

  68. Gretchen Meyer says:

    What a nice guy. It’s good to be reminded they are out there. And I always make dental appointments for late in the day because I feel like crap after. Sometimes they say they try to save those for school kids or whatever. I don’t care, just give me the appointment.

    Like

  69. scsusie says:

    I love this.

    Like

  70. bamacarol says:

    Great post, Jube. Yes, your hair in the last picture is the bomb (do people say that any more?) and is almost taking over your mom’s head. Happy Birthday, Harold! And may you have many, many more.

    Like

  71. Melvie says:

    What a sweet tribute. I’m glad you have a Harold in your life!

    Like

  72. yetanotherkelly says:

    He’s not just your stepdad, he’s your bonus dad. And he sounds like a wonderful man. Pam nabbed a keeper.

    Like

  73. Chrissy says:

    What a lovely tribute to someone who sounds like a fantastic guy! ❤️ I also love why you called him Harold here. Ha ha!!

    Like

  74. Joy says:

    Happy birthday!! He sounds so nice.

    Like

  75. cherylk says:

    What a beautiful tribute. We should all do better about letting the people we care about know how great they are. And I do love your hair in that last picture.

    Like

  76. Jan says:

    Cheers to Harry!
    He sounds likes such a good man. I’m happy you’ve had him in your life. This world needs more men like Harry.

    Like

  77. Katie from work (fmr.) says:

    I feel you on the dentist thing. I feel like clenching that hard should burn a lot of calories:)

    Like

  78. Happy birthday, stepfather! He sounds absolutely wonderful.

    Lovely post, June. Truly…this was lovely.

    Like

  79. Mel says:

    What a wonderful tribute. I’m glad to know him a little bit.

    Like

  80. MeMe says:

    Happy Birthday, Harold. And May you celebrate many, many more. You’ve left footprints in June’s heart and we love you for that.

    Like

    1. June says:

      By the way, the reason I call him Harold is, as you might know, Marvin’s best friend married my stepsister. Marvin’s best friend is a shy person. He was nervous about what to call Harry, so he asked Marvin since they shared a father-in-law. “Call him Harold,” said Marvin, for no reason other than he is an awful, hilarious, awful person. So then for like a year poor Bill would be all, “Nice to see you Harold” till finally Harry said, “Why do you call me that?”

      heeeeee

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tee Smith says:

        This is HILARIOUS!

        Like

  81. June says:

    I’m just gonna leave the first comment here and say that last picture of me was the best hair day I ever had. It was my stepsister’s rehearsal dinner but we called it off just to sit around and talk about my hair.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Mel says:

      I noticed it. I admired it for several seconds. Our hair is fairly similar, so I took another moment to consider growing mine out since it looks so fabulous in that photo.

      Like

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