Sunday, August 7, 2011

I Hope He Did

Long time listener pals will know that I have often joked about having daddy issues.  I have wanted to do a show about my father for a long time.  I could never find the right time to sit and talk about things I have been ashamed of for the majority of my life.  But I have come to a point where if I don't purge these things, I will never feel better about myself or my relationship with my father.

I will start off by saying that these are my memories and they may not be accurate.  I really think I have blocked some things out.  

My father's name was Odin, he went by Lee.  He was born in 1957 in Colorado, but I am not sure.  He married my mom in November of 1978, when I was six-months old.  I don't know what he did for a living when I was a baby, but I remember him being a security guard.  He took me to work with him once.  A nice lady gave me candy.

I don't remember the first time my father hit me, nor do I remember the last time.  I do remember the routine.  He would go in his room and get his belt, close my bedroom window, close my bedroom door, and tell me to bend over in front of the closet.  I remember him telling me if I screamed he's hit me harder.  I remember always being afraid.  I used to think that my father got off on hearing me cry and scream.  He used to lock me in the trunk of the car and laugh when I would scream to get out.  He told me I needed to toughen up.

I remember once I had done something that made him mad, but he didn't have time to "discipline" me then.  Told me I was lucky.  Two days later we had picked up a bed for my sister.  He built the bed, made it, then looked at me and said, it time to take care of you now.  He pushed me into my room and did the routine.  He would tell me in the morning he was going to come home and whip me and I would spend all day praying he would forget.  He never did.

When I was six, I had a pink shirt with Garfield on the front.  I remember him telling me to put it away.  I was six...I folded it as best a six year old could and put it in the wrong drawer.  This set him off.  This was the angriest I remember him being.  I couldn't go to school after the incident.  When I did return, I remember my teacher asking me something that lead me to say my daddy hit me.  She sent me to the nurse and the nurse checked me for bruises.  The police were called to my house.  I don't remember anything about them being there other than they being there and my mother being furious at me for showing the nurse my backside.  Shortly after, my mother and father split up and My mother, sister, and I moved in with my grandparents.

At first, my dad was attentive.  We saw him every weekend.  Talked to him on the phone almost every day.  But one day I had called, and he couldn't hear me.  I called again, he couldn't hear me.  I called the next day,  he couldn't hear me.  I called again and his girlfriend, Pam, could and put him on the phone.  He said he didn't know why he couldn't hear me and it must have been the connection.  This happened for a month.  I wasn't stupid and when he answered the phone I yelled at the top of my lungs, "Daddy i know you can hear me and I love you and wish you would love me."  He hung up.

In this time frame, the excuses started with why he couldn't see up.  The last time my mom tried to drop us off, he answered the door, I remember him being naked.  He told us we had to leave, that we couldn't visit and closed the door.  That was the last time I was dropped off for a visit.  I was eight.  There were a few phone calls, promises of visits, promises of lots of things.  It is heartbreaking to know at the age of eight that your father has no intention of taking care of you or seeing you, and soon even talking to you.

A few years later, I answered the phone and heard a very familiar voice ask for my mother.  She was at work.  He asked me if I knew who he was.  I said, "Yes, Lee.  I know who you are."  He went into a I've missed you, I want to make it up to you, but I've been sick.  Same speech I had heard a dozen times.  After we hung up, I called my mother at work asking why she had been hiding him from me.  In my mind, she knew where he was and was talking to him, but didn't tell me.  She was hiding him from me.  For my own good, now that i can look back as an adult.  I was so confused.  We did end up seeing him...In a mental hospital, where he had been committed for trying to commit suicide.  That was the last time I saw my father.  I was 12.

When my father was released, he moved to Colorado to take care of his mother.  And at first, the phone calls were regular, I think there were some letters.  For Christmas, he sent me a bible.  I am not nor have i ever been religious and didn't understand the gift.  My father was angry because I didn't appreciate it.  I was 12!  All I cared about was New Kids on the Block and having bangs.  I still have the bible.  He wrote in it.  It's the only gift he had given me.  And while I may not have any interest in reading it, I know it is there.

Soon the letters stopped, the phone calls dwindled.  Soon his phone was disconnected.  I would have to call my grandmother and tell her I lost his number and she would give me the new one.  This game continued until 1994.  Around this time, my father wanted me to go to Colorado and see him.  Told me he was saving up to buy my an airplane ticket.  Called me one day to tell me he had purchased it with United and he couldn't wait to see me.  I called United and what do you know, no plane ticket.  I called him out and the lies started flowing how the airline made a mistake and he would fix it.  I gave up.

My best friend in high school's name was Shannon.  She had moved to Colorado for a year and came back.  Her family had to drive up to pick up a few things and invited me to come along.  I accepted.  Shannon's father asked me if i wanted to see my dad.  That he would drive me to Denver if i wanted.  I declined.  I knew Lee wouldn't want to see me.  I enjoyed my trip and seeing parts of the land that I may have never seen otherwise.

While I was gone, my father had called.  I don't know  how the conversation went, but he knew I had been in Colorado.  The phone call I got when I was back home I have titled "The Best and Worst Moment of My Life."  Lee screamed at me, what an ungrateful bitch I was, and how dare I not tell him I was going to Colorado.  How dare I keep that from him.  I stuck up for myself.  I said he hadn't given two shits about me for years, he lied all the time, and I deserve better.  He then told me I was not to talk to my father that way.  I told him, if you acted like my father, even once, maybe I could show you that respect.  I also said, I know you are lying to Grandma about why you don't talk to us and why you don't see us.  She was ill at that time, so i told him, I will let her continue thinking that her only son is a model human being and father.  He thanked me.  He thanked me for protecting him from my poor grandmother who thought my mother was keeping us from her.  He then said to me that if I wanted to be in his life, I had to call him.  I said NO!  You are the adult, you are my father, if you want to be in my life, you will call me.  I was 16...I never talked to him again.

On July 28th, my mother called me telling me that a police officer had come to her door looking for my sister. That my sister had to call someone regarding a person in Wyoming.  My mother called and got in touch with a lovely woman.  This lovely woman is a coroner and was trying to find my sister to notify her my father was dead.

I was and still am a little in shock.  I never thought I would know when Lee passed away.  I thought it would happen and I would spend my entire life wondering.  I have looked for my father every year, around his birthday, and hope I could find him.  I don't have to look anymore.

After 20 years of not having Lee in my life,  he is now overwhelming it.  I have had to sign documents giving permission to cremate him, sell what belongings he had, and provide what information I could for his death certificate.  Which I suppose is normal for a child to do for their parent, but I can't help feeling like I shouldn't have had to do this.  Then all my anger rose to the surface again.  And what saved me from completely going into some weird rage-filled place was this coroner.

She has gone beyond the duties of her job.  Really.  I don't know anything specific because she can't tell me until his case is closed.  But she told me that he lived alone, his neighbors didn't see him for weeks at a time.  Even his close friend said he wouldn't see him for weeks.  That he was having a very hard time coping with trauma he experienced as a child.  His records indicate suicidal thoughts, anger problems, and he was not dealing with it all well.  The only reason anyone knew he passed was he was a Veteran, a fact I did not know.  They do welfare calls to check on vets from time to time.  He didn't answer his phone.

He died alone.  He died alone and probably felt like no one loved him.  And as much as I had been angry with him, I found that I was beginning to feel sad for him.  That whatever demons he had, they were too much for him.  And in all this anger and sadness, I found that I did have love for my father.  That he gave me life, and maybe that was all he could give me.

I know I will never get the answers I want as to why my father chose to leave us behind and battle his thoughts alone.  I will never quite understand.  Maybe it was to spare us from watching him deteriorate.  Maybe he didn't want to make his demons, mine and my sisters'.  Little did he know that he did.

I wish he knew that I never stopped looking and I would have done anything to help him.  In the end I just wanted him to love me, and I hope he did.  

No comments: