Father’s Day

I hate Father’s Day.  There. I said it.

Yes, I’m aware that it seems un American to say that and that I sound a little bit bitter but I’m tired of this annual reminder of a father who has pretended I didn’t exist for my entire life. My mother told me that the only interaction he ever had with me was a few days after I was born when he visited, said “I heard it was a boy”, handed my mother twenty dollars and disappeared. Forever. She would keep him a secret from me for sixteen years.

My parentage had to be let out of the bag when I applied for a learner’s permit and needed a birth certificate. When the California Bureau of Vital Statistics told me I didn’t exist my mother and stepfather had no choice but to tell me the truth; I had been using my stepfathers last name and my mother had actually given me her maiden last name. I really had been requesting a birth certificate for someone who didn’t exist.

Suddenly I had no idea who I was and wanted desperately to know anything about my real father that I could possibly glean from anyone. My mother had fewer details than I had hoped for, telling me only that his family operated a ski area in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire and that he was a skier who was good enough to have tried out for the Olympics. And I knew his name.

There were few resources available to me in the seventies to find out anything more about him; today it would be a relatively simple internet search to get the details I was starving for. Oddly, it would be several years later when a woman’s name in a quilting magazine caught my eye; she had the same Swedish last name as my father so I wrote to her and asked her if she knew him and only said that he had been a friend of my mother’s during his skiing days. She sent back a delightful note saying that he was her nephew and that she would be happy to pass along my contact information and put me in touch with his mother. My grandmother!

A few days later I got a note from the man I was sure was my father telling me briefly about his life in Nevada and asking me who my mother was. I knew that revealing her name would tell him immediately who I was and as predicted I never heard from him again, but his mother wrote to me and seemed undaunted by the fact that I appeared to be a long lost grandchild; I often wondered if she suspected something all along.

My father’s family embraced me almost immediately once they saw me; the family resemblance was startling and there was no doubt that I was indeed Roger’s cast off child. To this day I remain incredibly grateful for the entire family for the warm welcome I got and have enjoyed developing a relationship with an entire side of my family I never knew I had.  It is pretty clear that my father is never going to acknowledge me, but my aunts Joyce and Roberta have been just wonderful and we keep in touch still; they are as confounded by his behavior as I am. I love being invited to family functions on my father’s side and introducing my daughter to them as well. It’s as if my aunts understand that his dismissal of me has nothing to do with me and everything to do with his shortcomings as a human being.

Nearly thirty years after finding my father I have yet to have any conversation with him and I often wonder what it will be like when I find out he has passed away with out having known me. My aunts’ mantra is “his loss”, but at this stage of the game it seems silly to pretend I don’t exist. Is he embarrassed by what he is not? Ashamed of his own regrets? Afraid I turned out okay in spite of him and in spite of the fact that I ended up being a dreaded girl?

I will probably never know. Hopefully, the fact that I don’t like Father’s Day means that I have reached the final phase of mourning for a side of myself I never knew. It’s been a long time and I’ll take it.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Alex said,

    March 4, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Alex was here. He liked reading your blogs.


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