Heere’s Daddy, part 2
Where were we? Oh right… the parental reunion…
As I watched in disgust, my mother putting on her little show for her ex-husband twice removed, I sensed he was just as phony as she. I felt nothing for this man who just showed up pretending to be my father after 10 years of being a ghost in my life.
As bedtime came around she announced they’d be sleeping together on the Murphy bed in the living room, (for those who’ve never heard of a Murphy bed, it’s a bed that folds up into the wall). I was told this was all perfectly normal because they had been married.
They were actually making fun of me and my objection to this sleeping arrangement. Nothing says great parenting like humiliating your ten year old! At that moment I felt they should have to live the rest of their miserable narcissistic lives together… preferably without me.
My father was an iron worker. He’s ½ Cherokee Indian and has that agility and lacks any fear of heights which allows him to walk on girders many floors up on a construction site without a net. I didn’t get that gene. He was between jobs when he showed up at our apartment.
His stay ruined my routine. When I got home from school I had this stranger to deal with and we had nothing in common. Fortunately it didn’t go on very long.
About two weeks after his unannounced arrival we had his abrupt departure. I came home from school to find my mother bawling her eyes out. She was so distraught she couldn’t go to work, but what really kept her home that day was the opportunity to take all her frustration and anger out on me.
It seems his wife, (yes he was quite married during his little romp with the ex), had called with news that his other daughter was sick with the flu, had a high fever, had to go to the emergency room… etc., etc. She was begging him to come ‘home’ and he decided to do just that.
“This is all your fault!” was how it started when I walked in completely unaware.
“If you had been nicer to him… treated him like he belonged here… blah, blah, blah… he would have stayed with ME.” Not US mind you… ME.
“I hope you’re happy now! How does it feel to know he loves his other daughter more than he loves you?!” She was on a roll now… pacing in front of me like a caged tiger.
She didn’t hit me physically but was doing pretty well with the emotional beating. Looking back I think this was when the physical abuse stopped. She clearly preferred this type of warfare.
It was almost ten years before dad surfaced again. Mom insisted on informing him he was a grandfather. She wasn’t thrilled to be a grandmother at 36 years of age and wanted to share that news with him.
Several months later, on a crisp autumn Sunday morning, I was awake but enjoying the quiet you have to savor when there’s a baby in the house. No rush to get out of bed this lovely day. Then the phone rang and snapped that little reverie.
I thought it was probably my mother-in-law calling to firm up Thanksgiving plans and I wasn’t in the mood. We didn’t have voice mail in those days so the phone couldn’t be ignored. If it was her she would think something was wrong if no one answered.
I said, “Hello”, and stopped myself from adding “mom”. Good thing. There was a man on the other end of the line. He said, “Barb?” I said, “Yes.”
“This is your dad.”
I’m not sure how long the silence hung in the air after that but it seemed like days. I had so many things running through my head at the same time I couldn’t form words.
Should I ask, “How’d you get my number?” “Why are you calling me now after 10 years of silence?” “How’s your daughter doing?”
Luckily he went first. “I hear I’m a grandfather!” He said, and sounded happy about it.
I said, “Yep, you have a grandson. Where are you living now?” Just wanted to make sure he wasn’t near by and there could be a family get together. I was relieved to learn he was about 1200 miles away.
I don’t recall how long we talked. It seemed like eons but I’m sure it was mere moments. He got my address so they could send something for the baby. I got his address… so I would appear to care.
It was two years before we spoke again. I called to tell him he had another grandson. It was a short conversation.
Fourteen months later I got a very long letter from my sister.
I’ll wrap this up in the next post where you’ll meet my sister and step-mother.
Thanks for your interest and support of these family stories. I learn a bit about myself and how I came through all this craziness with my head on (almost) straight as they unfold. I think I really was born the parent in the family. Albeit with no control over the children!