Many people reading my stories have asked about my dad. Did I ever have contact with him? What became of him? Why did he have nothing to do with me? This post should answer your questions.
As I said earlier, my mom's Last Will and Testament wasn't even close to being the watershed event that determined how I feel about her...
My mom died quite a few years ago. There were some things that she insisted on in her will and in person before she died. One of them was that she was to have no funeral or memorial what-so-ever. She was to be cremated and sent off without any fanfare. My brothers knew she died, my family knew, and I made sure her immediate friends (there were few) knew.
One of her life long friends was a woman named Wanda. I somehow found her phone number in another state and called her. During our conversation she asked me if I'd ever been in touch with my father. I told her what my mom had always said to me. That he had another family and didn't want to ever see me again. She said that was too bad and we got off the phone.
Three days later my phone rang, it was Wanda again. She told me she gotten in touch with my dad and he told her to have me call him. The piece of paper with his phone number on it, sat on my kitchen counter for over 3 weeks before I mustered up the courage to call him. When I called, I was expecting him to say pretty much what my mom said. That he had a new life and didn't want to talk to me. After 35 years of no contact, I still wanted to see him. He did in fact sound a little distant on the phone, but he agreed to see me if I came to Kentucky.
I left LAX on a cold and rainy day. Not sure what I'd find, or even exactly why I was going. My flight was not direct and I had some layover time in Louisville, to further wonder what in the hell I was doing there. At that point it was easier to go on to Lexington than to go back home, so that's what I did. When I got off the plane and walked into the terminal, I spotted a man who looked somewhat familiar. He spotted me, at about the same time. He immediately bent over at the waist and started to cry. It was my Dad...
With him at the airport was his son-in-law, Ricky and his grandson, Jimmy Lee. We had a pretty quiet ride through the cold and rainy Kentucky night into Frankfort, where he lived. When we got there, I was introduced to his wife, "Tootsie" and daughter, "Valerie." There was quite a bit of small talk for a while and my dad was getting visibly more upset with every minute that passed. He sent everyone out of the room and told me something that ripped the heart right out of my chest.
If you remember, my mother told me that my dad had re-enlisted into the military, this time the Army. He now had a new wife, new children, and wanted nothing to do with me. Well, here I was sitting in the same house, with all these people feeling like a total outsider. I guess I should have waited a bit longer to ask the obvious, but I couldn't. Why did he leave? Why didn't he ever talk to me? Why didn't he take me with him? I can barely even type his answer. He said "I didn't contact you because your mother told me you weren't my son! She had cheated on me, while I was in Korea."
He said he fought the monthly allotment that was sent to my mom as child support, but he lost every appeal. He also said that his "new" daughter, was actually his step daughter and that all these years he thought he never actually had any children at all.
At least that's what he thought until he saw me at the airport. When he saw that I looked just like him, he knew everything my mother said, had been a lie. The 35 years lost, hit him all at once and that is why he broke down at the airport. So it turns out my loving mother hated my father so much, that she ruined my childhood to spite him.
It was getting late and I was shown to a bedroom to sleep in. As I lay in bed I thought about the events of the day and of my life. I thought mostly about my mother...
She lied to both of us and she took the truth with her to the grave. You can not imagine the thoughts and images that raced through my mind, while lying in my father's house. It was dark and stormy, but as dark as it was, it couldn't begin to approach the darkness of the place in my mind, where my entire life played out over and over and over and over. The face of that insane, abusive, miserable excuse of a mother, was imprinted on the ceiling, on the wall, and on the insides of my eyelids. If she had still been alive, there is no telling what I'd have done.
Sometime before dawn, I gave up on sleeping, I quietly got dressed, went out the front door, and started walking. Because we had arrived there pretty late the night before, I had no idea where I was going. It was pouring rain, but I just kept walking. It was as if the sheets of rain were trying to wash the pain and anger off of me, out of me. If you've heard the phrase "shit or go blind," I guess that would be perfect for that place in time. I didn't know whether to shit or go blind, and I really didn't care which way it went.
At some point, an hour or so after I left, an old pickup truck pulled up along side me. The window rolled down and an older guy yelled to me over the sound of the rain. I couldn't really see him, because it was very dark and I couldn't hear him clearly over the rain. I took a few steps to the truck and saw it was my dad. He looked me up and down and said "you look like you could use a ride." He said he would take me wherever I wanted, or needed to go. He hoped I would go back to his house, but he totally understood if I didn't want to. I didn't know what to do really. Hell, I didn't even know where I was at.
All I knew about him was what I remembered from the age of four to five. He was in the Navy and not around much for the early years. But I remember a lot about that one year we were together as a family, everyday. He was very playful and I loved him like any young boy loves his dad. Then he was gone.
My dad had no clue at all about my life. He felt screwed by the system because he was forced to pay money every month, for the support of a child that he thought wasn't even his. He didn't really know what kind of a woman my mom was. He didn't know what she was capable of doing and saying to us, I didn't tell him either. He seemed to be a happy man and I couldn't bring myself to poison it, with the rage that was running through my veins. So I went back to his house with him.
While I changed my clothes he started making breakfast. I don't know where his wife was at that moment, I think he must have told her to give us some time. The image is still vivid. I was sitting at the small table in his kitchen, drinking coffee, while he fried eggs, bacon, and made a stack of toast. Whenever I think about that moment, the first image that comes to mind, is that there was not only one can of Crisco sitting by the stove, there was also a can of butter flavored Crisco as well. A different world...
You know, My dad did look familiar to me at the airport, but not because he looked like somebody I'd seen. It was because he looked like the person I saw in the mirror, everyday.
I stayed in my dad's house with him and his family for several days. The longer I stayed there, the more love and respect I had for the man, and the more hatred I had for my dead mother (if that was even possible). My "new" step mom and "new" step sister absolutely adored my dad. I can't leave out his step daughter's son Jimmy Lee. He and my dad were clearly best buddies. All Jimmy Lee did was talk about how his "bampa" took him fishing, played ball with him, and how they just talked about stuff. My dad was loyal, friendly, and strong. Although he was now a Kentucky State Trooper and fit the mold exactly, he was a dedicated, strong, and gentle family man.. My life in hell, with my mother, was the exact opposite.
I would have loved to have my dad in my life, I would have loved it even more if I had grown up with him. As fate would have it, my dad died about a year after we got back together. I only saw him a couple more times and talked to him only several other times, but I got a good feeling as to the cut of the man.
As I may have said earlier, I lived in Kentucky (Peak's Mill) also when I was very young. My trip back to my dad's was the first time I'd been back there since we moved. I took my family there for a family reunion shortly afterwards. It was pretty interesting. My interaction with my family was also interesting. In a nutshell, it was like going back in a time machine. Small town Kentucky isn't all that different now from what it was a hundred years ago...
I didn't really know the man, but I still miss him today...