When I was 2 years old, my mother and father got divorced, which was not yet a mainstream event in 1967 in the Midwest.

When I was 2 years old, my mother and father got divorced, which was not yet a mainstream event in 1967 in the Midwest.

My father's addiction to alcohol turned him into a virtual stranger to all who loved him. He was cruel, resentful and abusive when he was drinking. Over the years, I watched my mother's heart break time and again. Despite everything, she remarried my father when I was 3, but it didn't last.

My parents divorced for good when I was 7 years old, and we moved back to Mom's hometown. When I saw my father on the occasional weekend, it was unusual for any of us to get along. He made genuine efforts to stop drinking, but he just couldn't sustain sobriety.

My mother met Wayne when I was 12 years old, and I remember well the first time he came to our house to pick her up for a date. I didn't know what to expect, so I just watched him.

Most men would feel uncomfortable with a kid staring at them, but not Wayne. He smiled and started talking to me. The only thing I can remember about the conversation is thinking that this guy is nice, not creepy, and I hoped he was the one. Oh, and he was handsome, too.

He was, indeed, the one. A few months later, my mother and Wayne married, and my first impression of Wayne proved to be spot-on. He loved my mother beyond measure in a healthy and respectful way. He treated my sister and me as if we were his own children. And that did not change when our youngest sister came along.

Wayne was what every father should be: kind, loving, firm, fair and honest. When I stepped out of line, he had no qualms about letting me know I'd crossed a boundary. At the same time, I never questioned his love for me. He tried not to interfere when my mom and I argued with my father, and he always comforted me afterward. In fact, he showed remarkable tolerance and self-control when my father verbally attacked him in a jealous, drunken rage. He was the ultimate referee while my mother and I experienced mother-daughter moments.

The stepparent jackpot is realized when children from both sides of the new, blended marriage are treated equally. My mother and Wayne insisted there would be no tolerance for preferential treatment: His kids and her kids were their kids, and they would be loved as such. Through the years, I never doubted that Wayne thought of me as his daughter.

Wayne passed away three years ago. Looking back, I realize that I never explicitly told him how incredible he was. I regret that. Our DNA didn't match, but he is my father.

Emily Thorne lives in Central Point.