I’ve written a lot about my mother and our dysfunctional relationship but, today I thought I’d write a little bit about my father.
|My parents on their wedding day|
I was two years old when they divorced so I don’t remember their marriage. I do know she was sixteen when they married and my father was all of nineteen. I was born two months after she turned seventeen.
As the story goes… they separated within the first year and mom and I moved in with my grandparents. Living with my grandparents was an on again off again situation for much of my life… with and without my mother.
The first memory I have of my father was on my fifth birthday. Mom was working the early shift at the factory and I was home with my step-father, her third husband. We lived in a small garage apartment.
I remember my father brought me two games. One was Uncle Wiggily and the other was Tiddlywinks. The Tiddlywinks game I remember throwing at my mother in a temper tantrum a while later but that’s a story of its own for another day.
It struck me that both ‘dad’s’ seemed to get along. They even had a beer together on the back step. I wondered why they could get along but my mother couldn’t get along with either of them very well.
He didn’t stay long, my dad, but I clearly remember the day. He mentioned his other daughter, which I knew nothing about and it surprised me. He had remarried right after the divorce but my sister obviously came before the divorce. She’s four years younger than I.
Fast forward five years to another surprise visit from dad…
My mother had separated from her third husband (first of four times) and we were living in an old apartment building in the city. It was hardly the Ritz. There was an older lady downstairs who would watch my seven month old brother while I was in school and mom was at work. When I came home she would leave.
Mom was working as a cocktail waitress in a bowling alley lounge. She didn’t always come home immediately after her shift. I was used to it and never counted on her to be home for dinner. There was usually Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, or something in a can, to eat.
As I was feeding my brother his dinner I heard a knock at the door. We didn’t have many visitors so I was curious about who would be behind the door.
I put the chain on before I opened it. In the semi-dark hallway I saw a man with a bag of groceries who looked vaguely familiar. He said, “Aren’t you going to let your dear old dad in?”
I’d seen enough pictures to believe him, and he hadn’t changed much in five years, so I let him in. I couldn’t imagine what brought on this surprise visit. I also wondered how my mother would react when she found out.
Turned out he had stopped to see her at work before he came to the apartment. How else would he have found us?
He brought the groceries into the cramped little kitchen. With a small table in the corner and a high chair next to it there was barely room for two people to turn around.
He was chattering about making a decent dinner for the three of us. As I told him my brother was almost finished with his dinner I heard the door open and in came mom.
This night she had rushed home and was absolutely giddy. I became skeptical about the entire scenario. I’d been through enough with her that my radar was pretty keen and this had red flags all over it.
They stood in front of the kitchen sink under the one dim light fixture in the room and began kissing. When she broke from their embrace she must have noticed the look of total shock on my face.
She said, “It’s ok, honey, he’s your dad and we were married you know.”
First of all, when she called me ‘honey’ I knew she was full of shit. That was for show and I knew at that momentmy sense was correct.
To be continued.