I found out Saturday night that my birth father died. I have very little memories of him. I remember him bringing a garbage bag full of Christmas gifts and it wasn’t Christmas ( I later found out from my Mom that it was February). I remember him yelling at me about my Mom and the divorce. I remember ordering ice cream in a plastic dish and when I didn’t eat it fast enough he threw it out the window. I cried, not over the ice cream., but because I had just seen the commercial with the crying Native and knew we weren’t supposed to litter.
I remember the times he wasn’t there more. I remember attending my first protest, picketing downtown with my Mom, brother, and a lot of other women and children over child support. We weren’t getting any. I think I found another kid who had some He-Man figures, and played with them, resulting in a very upset me when my brother was on the news and I wasn’t. I very specifically remember my Mom not eating so that there was enough for me and my brother.
I remember being really, really poor while my Mom busted her ass solo to provide for us.
I remember being told that he wasn’t going to be our Dad any more, as he was waiving his rights so that he wouldn’t have to pay child support.
Years later I was in a car accident. When the settlement came, there was some legality that meant he had to be contacted and told that he wasn’t getting any money. He reached out to me and we exchanged a few letters. Then he sent me pictures from my High School choir concert to show he had been in the audience. I felt freaked out and ceased contact.
I played a show with my band and was told my Dad was backstage. Popped back expecting to see Greg, the only man who had been a father in my life, and instead there was a stranger who said he was my Dad. It was weird. I was upset that he just showed up without asking me, and made polite small talk until he left. My brother told me the memories he had of our Father and how he didn’t want any contact with him. I avoided any other letters or messages on my bands guestbook directed to me, from him.
I graduate. I go to college, I get married, I open my business. My employees state that my Dad had come in the shop looking for me seconds after I left the day before. What? No way! I called Greg and he said, no, he hadn’t been in. I asked them to describe the man and sure enough they described my bio Dad, not my Greg-Dad.
Now I felt creeped out. Coming into my business was absolutely crossing a line, but I had no way to contact him and tell him so. Then, a few days later, he sent me a facebook message. He said he had been in the shop and asked if it was okay for him to come in.
I politely told him that no, I wasn’t comfortable with him coming into my workplace. It was too weird. He told me he was Christian, and born again and that he had left alcohol behind and was a new man.
Ok, good for you.
Now that I knew that, couldn’t he come in the shop? Could we be facebook friends?
No, I’m sorry. It makes me uncomfortable and I know it would scare my Mom. But I’m glad you have a good life now.
You know what? He had sent SO many people from his church to my business. I should be grateful! He should have KNOWN I’d turn out like this. My mother had poisoned me and obviously not raised me right.
And there it was. My proof that he was the person I had always been told he was. No stripes had changed, scorpion and the frog, yada yada.
He messaged again and I blocked him without reading it.
A customer who apparently goes to his church pulled me aside that week and said he had to talk to me. He then proceeded to tell me that my Dad was a good guy and a Christian and I was being unfair. I politely informed him that we weren’t having that conversation. He tried to do it again the next week and I said absolutely not. We could talk about coffee and that was all.
That customer then would make attempts to pull my husband aside and plead my fathers case. Every month or so he would update my husband on things about my father, and my husband would just listen politely and (at my request) not pass the information onto me.
Until Saturday, when the customer pulled my husband aside to tell him that my “loving father” had passed away.
Dill told me, and to be honest, I felt weird about how little I felt about it. I wasn’t sad, or glad or remorseful in any way. My Mom put it best. She said it’s like not getting to finish a book. It just… ended. It’s over and there is no conclusion.
I wasn’t going to look up the obituary, then my Mom emailed it, seething because it listed my fathers “honorable service in Vietnam”. He went to boot camp and was discharged after a month.
My brother and I weren’t mentioned. Which shouldn’t have surprised me. While his children knew a loving father, we knew someone angry, who held a grudge. If we wouldn’t forgive him and let him into our lives, then we wouldn’t exist to him.
Oddly enough, last week my Dad Greg officially adopted my brother and I. We had no idea that while we were being adopted , our birth father was in the hospital and would pass.
We’re finding different ways to close our books on him. My Mom is going to donate to a domestic abuse charity. I may do the same. Or maybe take my husband out to dinner to celebrate what a good Dad actually is. Or frame my adoption paperwork.
No matter what we do it’s over. Sometimes there isn’t an ending to our stories. Sometimes it’s just the end.