I woke up this morning, wondering why he was on my mind. It is not too often I think of him. Then I remembered, today he would have turned 74. My father. Half of my gene pool. A fairly large reason I became the person I am today.
Daddy’s Little Girl. That is what I was. I was the First Born. First Borns tend to hold an extra special place in a parent’s heart. First Borns are the lucky ones who have starring roles in the first several chapters of their parents’ “Parenting Handbook“. It is a Rite of Passage as a First Born to suffer through all the trials and errors parents make.
In my young eyes, my father could do no wrong. To me, he was perfect. I was too young to see and understand his great many flaws. I was to young to realize my father, in truth, had no idea how to be a parent.
My father had a shitty childhood. Neither of his parents were capable of showing and teaching their six children what unconditional love is. In his early teenage years, he wen to live with an aunt and uncle to escape the shitty home life.
Honestly, I do not know too much about my father’s side of the family. When he was home, we hardly ever went to visit his parents. It was the same thing with his siblings. He was not close to his family at all. I have cousins I have never met and cousins I have not seen since at least 1975!
The few interactions I did have with the woman who gave birth to my father left me with a foul taste in my mouth. This is how vile she was. Shortly after my twin sisters were born, we went for a visit. The woman who gave birth to my father told my mother she did not want the twins as her grandchildren because she had enough already. Seriously! Who in their right mind does or says stuff like that?!
Another incident with the woman who gave birth to my father happened when I sent her an invitation to the Open House my mother was hosting for Mr Potato Head and I. (He and I had gone to the Justice of the Peace during our lunch hour, so there was no big wedding or reception.) Since my mom had raised me to ‘do the right thing’ and to ‘be the better person’, against my better judgment, I sent her an invitation. She never called. She never R.S.V.P.d. Nothing. So, I call her the day after. I ask her what happened and why she was not there. Her response? “I had more important family matters to attend to.” I am your grandchild. The eldest daughter of your first born son. Yet, you have more important family matters to attend to?! When I called her out on it, she could not come up with something more important. From that day forward, she was dead to me. I had no use for her. She was nothing.
This man, my father, was a hard worker. He had a very good work ethic. He was a Jack-of-All-Trades, Master-of-None. I can give him credit for that.
It must have been hard having five children in four years. The youngest three are only 10 months apart. The stress must have been horrendous . . . Especially for someone who never had good role models for parents.
I remember when my ‘rose-colored glasses’ started to come off. I was eight. At the time, my mother was working Second Shift. My father began going out at night. He would come home from work, change his clothes and leave. He would say, “Don’t tell your Mom.” It was a secret. Daddy was trusting me with a secret! So, of course I didn’t. In my little mind, it was a really big deal. It meant I was extra special!
For a little over two years this went on. He came home. He changed clothes. He left. He left me, an 8-year-old child, in charge of my siblings who were 6, 5, 4 and 4. It meant I was responsible for making sure we were fed, had our homework done, baths and put everyone to bed.
My father had grown tired of factory work. He became an Over-the-Road truck driver. This meant he was gone for long stretches of time. It was a hard adjustment for us, at first. We were all used to Dad being around. As time went on, the amount of time he was gone grew longer. Then, shortly before my eleventh birthday, he stopped coming home altogether.
My mother had started asking questions once he was gone. She was surprised. She was hurt I did not say anything. She was mad. She was VERY angry at him for putting me in the position he had.
My poor mama. She really had no clue. Mom had always been sheltered from the bad of the world. She was shielded first by her father and brothers; and then by my father. Well, up until the point he abandoned the family that is.
I do not know how she found out who he had taken up/off with. I just know she knew where he was and who he was with.
The first time he left, we were crushed. He still called . . . occasionally. My brother and I took it especially hard. I, as the oldest; he, as the only son. We could not figure out what we had done that was so wrong he would just leave us . . . abandon his wife and five children. Why? Were we such terrible kids? Did I not keep the secrets good enough? No one could supply the answers. Not Mom. But most of all, not my father.