Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fathers and Heros

My father was just a man, not special, not extraordinary, not a hero for any cause. He was just a man. I came to this conclusion a few years back when it became clear that I had to find a way to not be angry at him all the time. If his name was mentioned, if someone talked about what a wonderful father they had, if a tiny memory creeped into my brain about him, I would end up in an anger-crazed-sobbing marathon. It was very clear that I had to find a way to block those fits of hysterics from entering my life, I mean really, what else could I do, the man was dead. I couldn't just pick up the phone and pick a fight with him to make myself feel better.

My mother tells me this story about my father that contradicts everything I know of my father. Her recollection goes something like this:

Your father and I were in the process of packing up our little apartment in Long Beach and moving to South Carolina for a great new career opportunity for your father. He had to be there sooner than the lease was up on our apartment so I stayed behind to finish the packing and coordinate the movers. I was to meet up with him in a week or so to start our new life in South Carolina. The days passed and I packed everything up, put our furniture on the moving van and was just waiting until my flight the next day when your father shows up back in Long Beach and told me that he changed his mind and we were staying in California. I was so happy to see him but all our belongings were on a moving truck on their way to South Carolina.
I am told this is the night I was conceived.

 When your father heard he had a daughter in the waiting room of the hospital, it was rumored he exclaimed in joy, "I have a daughter!" and proceeded to hand out cigars and matchbooks.
When your father brought us home from the hospital, he grabbed you up from my arms in the passenger seat and proceeded to carry you up the stairs to our apartment, forgetting all about me still in the car.
I wish that adoration had lasted throughout my life.

Remember how I love words? The words that come to mind when I think of my father are: selfish, greedy, arrogant and cheat

The Cheat
You see, my father was just a man, not anyone extraordinary and certainly not a hero, most definitely not my hero. I was eighteen months old when my mother found out my father had cheated on her with another woman in her bed. She promptly packed us up and drove to Vegas to stay with friends. Shortly thereafter, she realized that it was her house, her life he destroyed and promptly packed us back up, drove home and kicked his fanny out. Three cheers for Mom!

My father married again to my step-mother whom he also cheated on after 16 years of marriage. However, since he traveled the world extensively 75% of the time, I have no doubt that his cheating was standard practice but I do not have the stories to tell or proof positive of that theory, it just took 16 years for him to get caught, again. What I do know of my father and women is that he cheated on my mother, he cheated on my step-mother, he slept with his cousin (my mother's best friend), he slept with my roommate in my bed (22 years his junior) and he lied to me about the woman that was to become his third wife.

The Greed
My father never paid his child support. Not once, never, not one payment. The measly $150.00 per month that was ordered by the judge was never paid. $1.800.00 a year, $30,600.00 total owed to my mother until I reached the age of 18.  Less than the price of a middle-of-the-road car today in 2012. When the time came to split the cost of the house that my parents bought together when I turned 18, he would not just sign his half of the house over to my mother, he wanted his share, yet he owed her money for years on back child support.

He owed my step-mother $40,000 after their divorce and she did not receive that money until after his death.

He worked and worked and worked his way to the top of a very reputable IT company and was able to retire with full benefits at the age of 55 to pursue his hobbies with a very healthy financial portfolio.
He purchased a steer ranch with his father and when my Grandfather and Grandmother passed, he choose not to split up the half of the ranch that was my Grandparents and provide inheritances to his two sisters.  He fought them in court, and won.

These are just a few of the issues I do know about. I am sure there are countless more stories I was never privy to, but you get the idea.

The greedy man and the cheating man are just by-products of his selfishness and arrogance.

I am taking this journey to learn how to heal and move forward in my life a more confident and successful person. My upbringing shaped who I am and it occurs to me that if I study and research his upbringing I might find some answers to his despicable behavior. Is there really a light at the end of the tunnel? A true-blue place I might find forgiveness through understanding?