Sunday, March 28, 2010
My Dad was finally discharged from the Navy. We could move out of my grandmother's place and be together as a family again, in a new house. The new place was in Rivera (now Pico-Rivera), across the street from a farm, (now Rivera Park). I started Kindergarten at Alice M. Birney School and fell in love with the girl next door (a hot five year old named Mona Lisa Gonzalez).
My dad got a job as a “Culligan” water man and we attended a church that was just down the street. With my dad on the scene, life seemed almost normal, I had some toys and even a bedroom to myself, with no friggin geese in it. Looking back, it seemed like we were a happy little family. Then one day, out of the blue, everything went to hell.
I walked into the living room, just in time to see my mom slap my dad across the face. He just stood there for a few seconds, staring at my mom, then turned and walked out the door. The next time I saw him, he and his “new” girlfriend took me and my older brother to the newly opened Disneyland. I remember a lot of that day, even though I was only five years old. I remember it ending with the four of us stopping at a cocktail lounge in Bellflower. I had a "Shirley Temple," because as the bar tender said, "they don't serve alcohol to anybody under eight." I didn’t find out until much later, that my dad’s new girl friend worked as a bartender there also. In fact, the reason I saw my mom slap him earlier, was because she had caught them together there (her story).
My mom, my older brother, and I ended up moving out of the new house and into a shack in Bellflower. The next year, while I was in first grade I remember my Dad coming over and talking to my mom. He said hello to me, but that was it. He left without saying good bye. I didn't understand and was crushed.
I didn’t see, or talk to him again for over 35 years….
I asked my mom many times, why he moved away without saying anything to me about it. My mom always said that it was because he didn’t care about me anymore. I loved my Dad and still remember the hurt I felt by what she said. I continued to ask about him from time to time, she always told me the same thing. "He doesn’t care about you, just forget about him."
I remember that my mom used to get a government check every month. I’m not talking about the one we got from welfare, this one was different. It was from the Army. My mom told me that my dad had gone back into the military. This time it was the Army and the check was my child support. Even at my young age, I knew that was a joke, because there wasn’t a lot of support coming my way from my mom, or from anybody else.
I continued to ask her from time to time if she heard from my dad, what he was doing, and why he didn’t want to see me. One time after asking her, she told me that after going in the Army, he got remarried, had two new children with his new wife, and wanted nothing to do with me, ever.
Ouch… I already knew my mom was screwed up and now thought the same of my dad. Although I didn’t know it at the time, my older brother had a different father than I did, I guess that's why none of this seemed to bother him.
About thirty five years later my mom died. First she had breast cancer. Then she had lung cancer. Then she had brain cancer. The doctors said it was related to her constant smoking, and she had no more than a year to live, depending on how fast the tumor grew.
I know what follows is redundant, but I need to set the stage for the next entry...
To my younger brother she left a chair. She stated in her will that she had spent enough on him while alive and didn't want to give him anything else. To me she left $1.00. She stated in her will, that she wanted it to be clear, that she did in fact consider me and only wanted to leave me a dollar. To my older brother, she left everything. Now she didn't have a lot, but she did have some profit sharing money and some life insurance, but that wasn't even the point. I was there, I was the only one helping her. I was even too stupid (or too honest), to take advantage of having power of attorney and have her change the will before she died. My older brother, to his credit, did in fact give me a fair portion of the money for what I had done. If I had been in his shoes and he in mine, I'd have given it all to him. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated what he did, I just would have handled it differently.
I'm sure most people think that the will is my main lingering beef, with my long dead mother. They would be wrong, so very wrong. It did however, hammer home the fact, that I was right about thinking that she hated me.