School life was just that, school life. I’m sure that all of us at that age went through their issues, and trying to find their way through to the next level of their life. I turned 18, it’s my life now, I am in control, and there is no more “blaming” anyone else for my life.
The two families that I had in Deer Trail were supportive, but when I went away to college and came back things were different. I was not used to a curfew, and my younger sisters rode with me to work, so they were coming home late too, and it wasn’t tolerated. I was asked not to return after the break.
In Terrytown we had several deaths it seemed to be in such a short time. Grandma Reed and Wink Kohlman hit me hard. We spent a lot of time with the grandparents in Agate, and from the first move to Deer Trail they were very inviting to me. Wink was my mom’s friend. I met him within the first few days in Deer Trail, his son Brad was in my class. Wink always had a smile on his face, and he was always in the bar with my mom. After she died Wink and I kept in touch, and I loved him like a father. I know he probably wasn’t the best dad, or husband, but he was to me and my mom what we needed. He always told me that Brad and I should get married so I could be his daughter, and Brad and I dated for a long time, but it turned out Brad was more like his father than I was my mom, and we ended the relationship.
These deaths hit me, if my father died, and I didn’t see him or forgive him as an “adult -to-adult” than I would not forgive myself. I decided to make a trip to California to see him and forgive him for my anger growing up. I asked him if I could go and visit and he agreed. He seemed to be genuinely happy that I was coming, and he even said he would pay for my ticket. As I was working at McDonalds in Limon at the time, I had to take time off work unpaid, so having the ticket paid for was a big deal for me. So, off to sunny California I was, and I was going to meet the “Stepmonster” at the same time. My father remarried and she was not very interested in becoming a stepmom. She didn’t have kids herself, and she wanted to be the only woman in my father’s life, so she make it difficult for my father to see us-or so he said.
The trip was good, I spent time with my father is his world, and he enjoyed showing me off to his office and other friends. We went to the beach together, and we spent the day at Universal Studios. Being home with his wife was awkward, she didn’t put on a “poker face” at all, and she took no interest in me. I took the time to speak with my father regarding my childhood. I told him that I forgave him, for everything, and that we can start over having an “adult” relationship-but it would be up to him. It felt good to get it off my chest, and that “God forbid” something happen to him, I said my peace. I really don’t know him well at this point, but the weird thing was that I had some of his mannerisms eventhough I haven’t lived with him forever. We ended the trip on a good note, but my expectations were very low, turned out I was right.
After my father and his wife broke up he told us that she was the reason he stayed away. He said he found some letters that we had written on the top of a closet, she had hid them away. He thought we didn’t care about him, and he didn’t try to find us, or get us from foster care. I think we can safely say he was the epitome of a “deadbeat dad” to us, and I know he never paid my mom any child support. If this was going on today it would be a different story, but back in the late 70’s and early 80’s it was different. I don’t know how he thinks or how he explains his way out of his actions, but somehow he has managed to dodge the “fault bullet”.
Our relationship now is what it is. He came to my wedding, but I didn’t have him walk me down the isle, he has met my kids and played “pop pop” for a few years, but as far as a “father figure” or “grandpa” he missed the boat. I leave the door open for him to come in, but I don’t see him as a “dad”, and I told him he could be a “Grandpa” to my kids, but our relationship as “father-daughter” is not really feasible. As heartless as this is to say, (God forbid) he passes away, I will not be taking any guilt with me for not knowing him.
It has to be said that my father was very successful in his working career. He was with the Los Angeles Police Dept. for over 20 years, taught “safe/defensive driving” to teens, and still works for the state of Arizona as an expert witness in vehicle deaths. He just didn’t grasp the whole “father” role the way he grasps his “career” role. I feel sorry for him that he doesn’t know us, and doesn’t have grandkids to spend time with. Maybe one day he will decide to spend time with us, every 10 years or so isn’t enough.
I love you Harry, and I hope your life is what you want. I missed you so much growing up, I needed you. You should thank the other “father figures” in my life that picked up the slack that you left. You owe Jerry, David, and Victor a “Thank You”, and I have written off the money for the plane ticket.
My heart is open… and will remain that way just in case he wants to be a part of my life.