Archives for July 2012

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Bastard Child Un-witnessed (part IV)

Part IV of a VI part series. I knew my sister was near death but I dare not call. Family members would be gathering for her last days. I worried that her elderly mother would find my newly published book Ragdoll Redeemed. Fifteen years ago, in my sister’s excitement about our first meeting, she mentioned me to her mother. Their conversation was so explosive that my sister and I chose to keep our relationship a secret. Now it is Father Day 2012, feeling sad about there being no goodbyes I reflect on the one and only evening I spent with our father.

Father’s Day, 2012! Honor thy Father. Why? How? I don’t even know how to think or feel about my father, much less how to honor his memory. I only met him once. We had one evening together in New York. It was 1974 when I was twenty-nine and filled with determination−you know, the kind of fortitude−if not obsession−it takes to track down a biological parent who has denied paternity in order to find your roots so you know who you really are. It was the best of nights−I couldn’t have asked for a better meeting. He was kind, warm, loving−and disowning. We got roaring drunk together.

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Bastard Child Un-witnessed (part III)

It was Father’s Day 2012. My sister lay dying from her heroic battle with cancer. In this series of VI blogs I tell the story of how four generations of denial, secrecy and being the un-witnessed child led to the last forsaken phone call to my dying sister. In part III I share excerpts from my book, Ragdoll Redeemed, and the childhood obsession of meeting my father. I believed the meeting itself could redeem me from the bastard label.

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Bastard Child Un-witnessed (PART II)

1974

“DON’T EVER CALL me again!” my grandmother warned harshly, as she hung up the phone. This abrupt rebuff, actually just an answer to my greeting of ‘hello’, left me bewildered. She and I had been having long distant phone conversations for at least fifteen years. Sure, the conversations were brief, stiff and unwelcomed on her part, but we had a bargain. Many years ago, we made a deal; if she would talk with me occasionally by phone, then I would not pursue the search for my father. I had kept my end of the bargain so what in the world was the matter with her? I immediately called her back.

“Althea, what do you mean, what happened?” This time she was angrier, “For God sakes, use your head!” She slammed down the phone again.

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Bastard Child Un-witnessed

It was Father’s Day 2012. My sister lay dying from her heroic battle with cancer. Since I too had struggled with the grueling treatments common to breast cancer patients, we often shared aspects of this journey. I knew the end was near. I could feel it in ways that I couldn’t explain nor understand.  Regrettably, I couldn’t call to console or be consoled; a fairly common consequence of an un-witnessed bastard child. In this series of six blogs I will share the story of how four generations of denial, secrecy and being the un-witnessed child led to the last forsaken phone call to my dying sister.

I have written a great deal about the similarities between Marilyn Monroe and me, both of us being stamped with the bastard label. “No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 23. Now I wonder just how many commonalities our mothers did share. Like the pain of being abandoned by the father of their unborn children, the shame, the inability to support their children, the depression, the pills, the vacant eyes.

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I Did It, I Did It!

Tomorrow is my 67th birthday and I have posted one blog every week since July 4th of last year. I am not sure which is the greater of the two feats. Surviving, even thriving to the age of 67, or writing a blog every week for one year. Both have been great learning experiences and both have been arduous adventures I wasn’t sure I would achieve. While I have gleaned a great deal of knowledge about blogging and social media in general, I have discovered a great deal more about myself. Writing does that, memoir writing in particular. It’s the slowing down (un-like speaking) and putting down one word after the other, always looking inside for the right one to describe my thoughts and feelings.

In my 66th year, I published my first book, Ragdoll Redeemed, (how cool is that) and I wrote how words often occurred to me tangibly like pieces of laundry. I wrote about being seventeen and hearing my first husband string words together that mesmerized me with their brilliance. He wasn’t trying to speak brilliantly, having spent a year at Yale; he just naturally spoke that way. At the time I didn’t know what most of the words meant but I filed each word somewhere in the laundry basket of my mind so that later, I could hang them on an imaginary close line and watch them dance in the sunlight of my mind’s eye.