Heere’s Daddy, the end

I met my step-mother when I was twelve and had run away from home with my little brother.  (You can read these two posts if you’d like more back story.)  We were living with my step-aunt and uncle.

During that time we were going to court trying to prove mom unfit.  The system was much different then.  It’s not great now, but then if you could give birth you were considered the best guardian for your child no matter how poorly you treated them.

I spent a lot of time with an attorney explaining why I ran away.  He swore to me it was all confidential and to tell him everything.  I did.
  

He had a tape recorder in his desk and played it back to my mother who denied ALL of it.  Mom 1… kid 0.  I’m pretty certain this was the beginning of my problem with authority. 

 

During the court debacle it was suggested, to the people we were staying with, to contact my father and see if he would take me.  The step-aunt and uncle were nice to me but had no interest in raising a teenage girl.  They would gladly take the two year old boy, however.

 

One day we took a long car ride.  No one said exactly where we were going. We pulled into the driveway of a small ranch style house.  I saw a young girl playing in the yard and wondered aloud where we were.

“This is where your dad lives Barb.  He wants you to come live with him.” Was the reply from the step-aunt.

I’m going to make this part short because it truly wasn’t a long visit.  My step-mother invited us into the kitchen. We sat around the table in awkward silence for a while.  Seems dad was out of town.  Did he even know about this?  I wasn’t sure.  It all seemed a bit subversive and fishy to me.

The bottom line was this… they were willing to take me, but they had no responsibility to take my brother.  Note… they were willing.  Her enthusiasm was underwhelming.

I remember standing up (all 80lbs. of me) and saying that I had no intention whatsoever of being separated from my brother.  Hell, he was more my child than anyone else’s.  I had put myself in harm’s way to get him to a safe place and now they want to take him from me?  Ah, NO.

That pretty much broke up the party.  We got back in the car and drove away.  It was never discussed again.

Ten years later I got a very long letter from my half-sister.  It was quite a surprise.  There had never been a word between us in our lives.  I was 22, she was almost 18 years old and about to graduate from high school.

She had a half-brother who was close to my age.  He was married with a son.  She was curious to learn about the sister and nephews she’d never met.

I responded to her letter and answered all her questions.  I must have included my phone number because she called a week or so later.  She was getting engaged after graduation and had all these ‘girl’ things to talk about.  I didn’t mind at all.

Then my dad got on the phone and said, “Hey, why don’t you come down here and visit?”  Like we were going to be one big happy family….

My response was cordial, and in retrospect stupid. I just wanted to get over this awkwardness and say good-bye.  I said, “Oh there’s nothing I’d like more than coming to Florida this time of year (they moved there after the last meeting with step-mom) but we can’t afford it.”

“I’ll send you the money!” was his response.

After a few days of back and forth I ended up flying to Florida with two toddlers.  My husband was unable to get time off.  Lucky him!

To hear my mother’s description of the step-mother you’d expect her to have warts on her nose, a green pallor and be sporting a pointy hat. She was, in fact, an attractive and lovely woman.

There’s something very innocent about her.  She grew up in rural Michigan and left school at 15 years of age.  Married, son, divorced, in short order.   Her life, to that point, parallels my mother’s so closely it’s eerie.

I stayed a week and thoroughly enjoyed my sister and step-mother. My dad, on the other hand, was all about trying to impress me.

He had a horse… I’m afraid of horses.  He had a boat… I can’t swim.  He had an RV… anything resembling a trailer gives me hives.

 

The only common ground was golf.  I had just taken lessons and he wanted to take me out for a round.  It was an overcast day and I burned to a crisp.

He drove me around town showing me all the buildings he built… apparently single handedly!  The cock of the walk was desperately trying to wow the daughter he knew nothing about and she was not interested.

I decided the distance would work to my advantage.  It made it easier to control ‘visitation’ and maintain an aloof but cordial relationship with all of them for almost 30 years.

It’s been 11 years since we’ve had any communication.  While my husband was in a coma, fighting lymphoma, my father called out of the blue. 

When I told him Dave had cancer, and how dire the situation was, he immediately went into self absorbed mode… He knew what that was like… he had a melanoma removed once… uh no dad.  That very day we were told the next 48hrs would determine if my husband was going to live or die.  Little heavier than having a mole removed!


I hung-up on him.  Later I called him back and told him how ridiculously selfish he was and I frankly never wanted to talk to him again.


A few months after my husband came home (still going through chemo) my step-mother called to apologize for my father.  Not possible.  She admitted he was selfish but he didn’t mean to be hurtful.  I cut that call short and as I sat there steaming it occurred to me she NEVER asked if Dave was alive or dead!

the end.


You can read all about our family’s journey through cancer in While You Were Sleeping.  Click the tab at the top of the page and download my free eBook which has helped many families dealing with cancer.
Thanks for hanging in with me through this l o n g saga.  Your comments have been encouraging and more welcome than you know.

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  1. Barb Taylor

    Sorry to say Barb, but your dad is selfish to the core and not worth knowing, given his past actions (or lack thereof). As I was reading, I was thinking that perhaps your step-mother had some kind of feelings for you – until you said she never even asked about Dave. No wonder you cut the call short.
    I really don't understand people like them, especially your dad. You are better off without him.

  2. Barbara Hammond

    Thanks Barb. As I've said before, my parents should have been sentenced to living their entire lives together. I've never known two people more alike in their narcissistic ways.
    As for my step-mother… she is just trying to hang onto her husband and continues to be submissive and supportive of him. He should feel very lucky to have her but I'm sure he doesn't.
    b

  3. KCLAnderson (Karen)

    Thanks for taking the time to tell your story…I think more than anything, the fact that you are able to tell the story without a lot of blame and recrimination is what's most valuable about it. Do you know anything about your parents' parents?

  4. Jackie Paulson

    So deep. Wow, thanks for opening yourself up to us this way. Ya know I am a Christian woman and I really do not know if I could "forgive and forget" in this situation. It really is a tough one. How un empathetic he was. I have tears so I will leave this at that. Bless you as Life is a blessing to all of us, Jackie Paulson

  5. Countingducks

    I'm pretty much lost for words. That you've come through in any shape at all is a tribute to you and the human spirit

  6. Barbara Hammond

    Karen, I never met either of my father's parents. His mother, who was 1/2 Cherokee, died of a stroke in her mid 40's. His father remarried but I never knew him.
    My mother's parents basically raised me, off and on. I know all of her family… it's quite a bunch! If you don't laugh at the craziness it would drive you crazy. 😉

  7. Barbara Hammond

    Jackie, discovering how freeing forgiving was has had a lot to do with why I can now write about all of this. You never forget, but when you can accept that you can't change it and they did the best they could with what they knew you can let it go and move on.
    I'm going to do some public speaking about this soon. Stay tuned.
    Thanks for joining the fb page!!
    b

  8. Jotter Girl

    I agree with Peter. You are one strong lady Barbara. Just out of curiosity, does your brother share a similar relationship with your parents? Sometimes when kids are so young they tend to miss most of the real drama – and rightly so. Thanks for sharing this story with all of your readers.

  9. Barbara Hammond

    Strength can be a blessing and a curse at times JG. My brothers are an entirely different story. I've written about the youngest who lived with us for a while. My oldest brother, who I mothered, lived with us off and on for a while, too but as an adult. Or as adult as he ever got. He had development issues but he seems to be in a good place today and happy. I seriously doubt he remembers any of this story and that's just as well.

    Thanks.
    b

  10. ElizOF

    You have weathered many storms and survived them all… Bravo Barb! I can't imagine the hurt and frustration that all of this must have caused you over the years…. Writing is cathartic and sharing facets of your struggle will help you and many others heal. Thank you dear friend… Great piece of writing.
    Eliz

  11. Barbara Hammond

    Thanks Elizabeth, that means a lot coming from you.
    b

  12. Thomas

    love your story so far. i've just picked you up and am drawn to read more… sounds like you've ran the gambit of rough and still on your feet… can't wait to read deeper into you…

    T.

  13. winsomebella

    Your story is compelling and amazingly truthful. Thank you for sharing so deeply.

  14. Adriennecarrick

    Once again….wow…..what a great sister you are as well as a wife. Those are the positive things that I would like to focus on in this story…..Thank you again for sharing.

  15. Barbara Hammond

    Thanks for reading!

  16. Barbara Hammond

    Thanks for the kind words.

  17. Judith

    Hi Barb I found you through Peter at Counting ducks. I cannot imagine what it was like as a 12 year old trying to find somewhere to live and hopefully, to be loved.
    We all live in our cosy little worlds unaware of the difficulties and traumas that others are experiencing.
    Thank you for sharing this with us.

  18. Barbara Hammond

    You're welcome Judith. Any friend of Peter's is a friend of mine. Thanks for coming by and I hope you'll be back.
    b

  19. Michele M Tremblay

    Barb,
    What an amazing path you have traveled. The fortitude you had as a young girl is just so powerful. It is so impressive that you could find so much strength within yourself at such a young age. Many can't ever find that strength at any age.
    Thanks for sharing your story over these past few weeks and I look forward to your future posts.

  20. Barbara Hammond

    Thanks Michele for your comments and encouragement. I'm looking forward to and working on some lighter fare to post very soon.
    b

  21. Annabel, Get In The Hot Spot

    It's always a winning combo when you have a great story and someone who knows how to tell it:) Congratulations on your fab writing Barbara and I hope it is also proving therapeutic for you. x Annabel

  22. Barbara Hammond

    Thanks Annabel… it is always therapeutic to write although I have no emotional connection to my father. I'm just grateful it might have helped others who have issues with their parents or upbringing.
    b