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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.

After sharing a couple pitchers of beer, he tenderly brushed my hair away from my face and said, “Your mother was a loose woman and you are not my child, but after meeting you, I will always wish that you were.” Looking into his sad Green-gray eyes was like looking into my own reflection. My mother always said that my eyes reminded her of him that and sometimes she couldn’t bear the pain of looking. That moment of tenderness was more than I had ever received from any of my other “fathers.” I all but glowed in the dark with absolute adoration and contentment, his denial falling on the deaf ears of a woman in need of a hero.

As I got up to use the restroom, I fumbled around under the table looking for my shoes. I always thought being raised under the California sun made me such a committed barefoot girl. I detested shoes then and now but when I saw that he too, my father, had taken off his shoes, I knew! I knew in the deepest recesses of my soul that he had to be my father.

At that moment, as our eyes met, and as God is my witness, I knew that he knew, without a doubt, that I was indeed his daughter. I also knew, in that instant, that I was free from my obsession of needing any- thing else from him. Our ease with one another (after some initial awk-wardness), in sharing pitchers of beer, with laughter stemming from a mutual sense of humor, and coupled with his sweet tenderness, was deeply satisfying. I no longer had any doubt I would finally let go and release this man from any further expectations I might have felt I deserved. He had given me enough. He never witnessed the tears of joy that dripped over the chipped bathroom sink in that obscure out-of-the-way-roadside-inn that he took me to−first to placate, then to dismiss me.

Hours later, he drove me back to where I was staying for the night. He asked me if he could please drive me to the airport in the morning. As we sat in the driveway, I looked at him and said, “It’s the alcohol talking and you’ll feel different in the morning.” He insisted and I relented to his request, but in the morning I got his phonecall begging forgiveness since he wouldn’t be able to drive me to the airport after all. I understood. Even knowing that I would never again see my father, I flew back to Florida feeling deeply content.

I had promised him that if he would meet with me, just once, I’d never contact him again. I kept that promise. After he died, I resumed my search for family and found my sister, Nan. To be continued

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Bastard Child Un-witnessed (part III)
Bastar Child Un-witnessed Part V