I love you more than you will know
Steven Wells, 57, and his daughter Jennifer, 27, are looking back on the days when Jennifer was a child.
Do you remember Jenifer’s first days of life?
Steven Wells: O yes. You can smile at what I’ll tell you. But I was scared to death. Jennifer’s mother stayed in the hospital for a week. It fell to me to take our new baby home and look after her.
I mean, I’m a blue-collar kind of guy. I’ve worked in factories and construction; I was a firefighter — and I’ve got a little baby girl in the house. I asked myself, “What am I going to do with this? I’m afraid I can break her!”
You were not ready for your new responsibility?
Steven Wells: Not a bit. You see, I was working serious jobs. I was 29 years old, but I was acting like I was 19. All of a sudden I had to grow up.
Jennifer: I’m glad you didn’t grow up too much. I was an only child so, you know … you were my playmate.
Steven Wells: I tried to be the father to you that my father never was to me.
Where did you live when you were a child?
Steven Wells: In Ohio. I’ll never forget, when I was about 10 years old, I was asking my dad to go out and play baseball with me and he didn’t want to go out with me. And my mother started bugging him, ‘Come on, Bill, go out and play with the boy!’
And I’ll never forget hearing my dad say, ‘Jesus Christ, Kay! I’m the boy’s father. If he wants to play with somebody, he can go up the street and play with one of the other kids.’
Your father’s words hurt you?
Steven Wells: Yes, and I told myself, “I’m not going to be that kind of father.” And I played with my little girl — a lot. We had my old Air Force duffle bag, full of Frisbees and soccer balls, baseballs, footballs …
Jennifer: Yes! I loved that bag! And we’d drag it down to the park. You were always my buddy.
Steven Wells: But we didn’t always live in the same house. When Jennifer was 14, we got a divorce with my wife. It was very hard for me to tell Jennifer about the split. At the time, we were living in Ventura, Calif.
Well, when I finally told Jennifer that her mother and I were breaking up, we took a walk. And I was in tears, trying to tell her that I wasn’t going to be living at home anymore.
What was Jennifer’s reaction?
Steven Wells: She put her arm around me and said, ‘Dad, it’s OK, lots of my friends’ parents are divorced, I’ll get through it. I’m worried about you.’
I’ve never forgotten that. I loved her more than myself. And she was living proof that it was worth it.
Jennifer: And I love that you stayed so close, too. We’ve lived in Macon, Ga., since 1996. Dad, have you had any regrets?
Steven Wells: I thought about it and, you know, guilt sucks. There are things that I wish had happened differently, or things that didn’t happen. But you make it all worthwhile.
Jennifer: Thank you, dear. I love you.
Steven Wells: I am honored to be your father. And I love you … more than you will know.