As a father for 17 years, the holiday for dads wasn’t always special for Charlie Harding.
In the depth of his darkest days of addiction, the 44-year-old Chanute resident hadn’t been on speaking terms with his mother and other relationships were strained.
He faced an ultimatum that if he wanted to be a part of his two children’s lives he would have to undergo treatment and complete the program.
“I couldn’t stand not seeing my kids,” Harding said. “Then I realized I needed to do this for me. It was something I needed to do, be clean and sober.”
Three years later, Tailynn, 17, a senior to be at Fort Scott High School, and Cole, 15, are on top of the list of positives in his life.
“Being clean and sober and the relationship go hand in hand,” Harding said.
This summer the teens are spending a week at a time in Chanute with their dad and with their mother in Fort Scott.
They go on walks and bike rides, they like to play games, and Tailynn and Cole are “amazing artists,” according to their dad.
“I’m just trying to spend time with them, trying to be active and trying to be healthy,” he said.
Looking back, he regrets the errors of his ways.
“I didn’t realize until not being there, not being present in the moment, that I loved and cared for them more than anything and I wanted to be in their lives,” he reflected.
Now, he’s taking in every day and even when things go bad, he’s there for that, too.
Harding is hoping to help others with addiction. He chairs Narcotics Anonymous meetings and attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
His children have gone to these, too.
“You understand this is a generational disease,” he tells his kids. “You guys really don’t have a chance.”
With aspirations of being an addiction counselor, social worker or psychologist, he credits a higher power for a second chance in life.
“God has given me a gift,” Harding said. “Addiction is really a gift from God. It allowed me to recover and it allowed me to serve (my children),” he said. “I love my kids very much and being given a second chance in life is a blessing.”
And that means he’s definitely looking forward to Father’s Day.
“It’s amazing to wake up and not be hung over or coming down from drugs, and to be able to see and enjoy how peaceful they are sleeping right before I wake them up — to really be there and enjoy that moment.”