My Father

I haven’t seen my father since 1986. I was 11 when he left. Even before that, I wasn’t around him much. He worked offshore when my parents were married, so there were long stretches when he wasn’t home. When I was 8 my parents divorced and I rarely saw him for the next year or so. My mother moved when I was 10, so I moved in with my father, stepmother, and baby sister to start school in a new place. My father and I lived there for 6 weeks when my stepmother kicked us out (which happened to be the night my wonderful grandfather died).

This is the day I moved in with my Grandmother. Her husband had just died after a quick, but terrible, fight with cancer but she didn’t even take time to mourn, she just started taking care of me. My Grandma’s property has two homes on it, so my father moved into one home with his brother and I moved in to the other with Grandma. Except for one other time, this was also the last time I saw my sisters until we were all adults (because their mother wouldn’t allow our family to see them).

We had been living with Grandma for several months when my father won a lawsuit against a former employer (for a legitimate claim). He won a substantial amount of money. Grandma had him put $10,000 in a savings account for my sisters and me to have to use toward college. Then she took me to the orthodontist, had them do a work up, and estimate what every single procedure and appliance would cost for my teeth to be straightened. Grandma went to my father and told him the total and made him give her the entire amount, despite his protests that he would just make payments. A few days later, after my uncle had taken out another trash bag full of my father’s empty beer cans, Grandma told him that if he had money to blow on alcohol, he could help her pay for clothes for me. He, and the $10,000 he’d put in the bank for his daughters’ educations, were gone that night.

About 11 years ago, when I was trying to have my first child, I asked a friend to help track down my father. My friend was a private investigator and looked for my father pro bono. I wanted to know if he was still alive and if I had any more siblings. I also really wanted to be able to tell Grandma something about her son. My friend found my father living in Alabama with a wife, but no more children. I thought for a little while of getting in touch with him, but decided against it.

Over the last 29 years, I’ve had every emotion possible in relation to my father. I’ve been furious, I’ve been sad, I’ve been eager to find him, and I’ve been resigned. I knew, even if I found him, that it wouldn’t really matter. He wouldn’t have any answers that would change anything and nothing that wouldn’t just be an excuse. I’ve always felt badly for Grandma who adored my father, her first born, until he proved that he couldn’t be an adult who cared for his own family or overcome his alcohol addiction. She still loved him, but she was beyond disappointed in his choices. Still, I knew she worried about him, because how could you not be worried?

When my older baby sister turned 18, I tracked down her mother and asked to get in touch with the girls. So we started talking on the phone and getting to know each other. We’re more connected now than when we were growing up, and I have two sweet nephews and a sweet niece because of them. We’ve all gotten married, but E (the younger of the two) is the only one who didn’t change her name when she married. Because of that, she’s the one the law firm’s investigator was able to track down most easily. E called me this past Friday after the investigator called her, and told me that our father had died. E had to get to work, so I called the investigator to make sure everything was legit and see what was going on.

Our father’s widow has a lawsuit because he died from an asbestos-related illness. He died from lung cancer, but I don’t have the details because the investigator was only calling us to get our contact information, she didn’t know she was calling to inform us that our father was dead. Basically, his widow was obligated by law to contact us because we are his heirs. She didn’t contact us to tell us our father had died. Almost 3 years ago. In October 2012.

After I talked with the investigator and established that it was my father we were talking about (he had a fairly common name, so I wanted to be sure), I called Grandma. I told her that her son had died nearly three years before from lung cancer. She thought it was ironic that “that woman” could find us when money depended on it, but not for common decency to tell us my father was dead. Grandma and I talked for a little while, but there weren’t many details to share. We have to depend on my father’s widow to call me if we want to know more. I’m not expecting to hear from her. Not when she didn’t call three years ago.

Then I called my mother because the law firm needs to know information about my father from the 10 years they were married. My mother and I thought it was ironic that she would be helping with a lawsuit that would get my father’s widow money when he never paid a dime of child support for me. Yes, we know the money would come to my sister and me too, but the irony is still there.

So much irony, y’all.

I have the same level of general sadness that I’ve always had about my father. He made choices that kept him from watching his daughters become adults, he will never know his grandchildren, and he drilled a hole in his mother’s heart that will never heal. It’s a strange thing to hear that your father is dead and then to be told that it happened almost three years before. You start to think of what was happening at that time, and wondering if you had any kind of “feeling.” Nicholas was 7, Tobin was 2, and of course Tesla hadn’t been born. And, no, I didn’t have any kind of feeling that my father had died. I had no idea.

I do know, however, that if I get any financial gain from the lawsuit, I will buy Grandma something lovely and wonderful.

 

Getting Lost

Getting Lost, with a capital “L” was the theme for last week. I, apparently, have a horrible sense of direction and that has become even more clear than it already was last week. I haven’t gotten lost on the way to drop off the kids and to go to work because I have a checklist of my step-by-step moves. Coming home is another story.

I got lost every day the first week living in Dallas. Well, lost may not be the most accurate term. I’ve been getting turned around. There hasn’t been a time when I didn’t know what street I was on or where I was in general, but there were many many times when I was going the wrong direction or stuck behind 80 jillion other vehicles and then missing my turn. It has been so incredibly frustrating because I have been late picking up the kids pretty much every day that we’ve lived in DFW. It is the worst feeling to be going against the clock and not knowing exactly where you are. The worst.

Hopefully I’ll get better the longer we’re here, it’s only been a week. But I’m tired of frustrated tears on the way home (from me, the kids are fine). Send the sense-of-direction gods my way, would you?

She Saved Me Every Sunday

It started because I wasn’t sure I could entertain a toddler by myself an entire weekend for the rest of my life. I wasn’t sure I could stand to be alone with my thoughts an entire weekend. It started because N woke up every day by 5:00 a.m. regardless of the day of the week […]

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All The Jams Have Been Pumped

Most business days, at 10 in the morning and at two in the afternoon, since I went back to work last spring I have pumped breast milk. When I was ready for a session, I announced down the hall that I was Pumping Up The Jams so that nobody would come into my office. On […]

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Miss Me?

I’ve been away from this space for a while and I have missed it and you. I didn’t purposely take a break, but I feel like I’ve barely breathed during the last year…I certainly didn’t take the time to write. But I am back and have stories to tell. I am glad you’re here.

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Racism and Listening

I’ve spent a lot of the last year reading and listening about racism. I’ve had conversations with people I respect and whose views and perspectives on race come from personal experience. Before the last year and a half or so, I thought I understood what my friends who have been impacted by racism were going […]

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Martha Speaketh Weeketh! Talking Dogs Are the Best Dogs

Martha Speaks was fun for the whole family (Lemmon included!)

We’re a PBS-loving family. We devour everything from documentaries, news programs, cooking shows, home improvement, and art to the kids programming. I love sharing favorites like Seasame Street with my kids, and discovering new-for-us shows like the Wild Krats and Martha Speaks. The week of June 16-20, 2014, is Martha Speaketh Week which culminates with […]

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My Life List

I like lists a lot. I like to mark items off my lists so much that if I do something that wasn’t on the list I will sometimes add it retroactively just so I can mark it off. It is possible I have a problem. Anyway…I’ve been thinking of what I want to do in […]

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Review and Giveaway: Tickled Pink Paper + Ink

Acrylic paint also worked well and did leave huge puddles of paint on the card

If you know me or have read my posts about scrapbooking, you know I love paper and ink. Like, I might need an intervention, I like it so much. Anyway, I’ve seen a company around Facebook the last couple of years called Tickled Pink Paper and Ink and found someone after my own paper-loving heart. […]

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Who Needs Hair Anyway?

Oh, wait, I do. If you’ve had a baby, you will know what I’m saying when I tell you that I’m in full-on, postpartum hair loss. If you haven’t had a baby…surprise! After you have a baby, you lose a significant chunk of hair. Of course everyone is different, but I get a real-life bald […]

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