Disclaimer – I had, in my opinion, a bit of an abnormal, normal childhood. It certainly wasn’t terrible by any means … I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea … but there were definitely some aspects of it that were unique. Now whether these stories of my childhood and youth are worth telling, well that’s a matter of opinion I suppose, but I figured I would give it a go here. So grab a glass of wine, maybe two, and enjoy. We’ll call this Chapter 1.
My father’s name was Delbert. Not a great name if you ask me, I would have liked my father to have a cooler name … but, what are ya going to do?!
His name is one of the handful of things I know about him. Like a really small handful. Among the others – he worked in construction, had a dog named Pierre, a son that I will call Sven (needed to follow Delbert with something with a little more flair), and was predeceased by his parents.
I learned most of this from his obituary which my mother found online when she googled his name nearly a year after his death.
My father was, more or less, completely absent from my life. I’m sure you had gathered that already.
I say ‘more or less’ because I did meet him a few times throughout my childhood and I even have some memories of him … he wore brown snap-up shirts, called me ‘hun’, bought me a life-size barbie head that I could paint make-up on, and had oreo ice-cream sandwiches in his freezer that he was gracious enough to share.
It seems Delbert was not so much terrible man as he was a self-preserving man who had zero interest in being a father to me.
Although that definitely stung a bit as I was growing up (Still does if I’m being honest. I was cute as a button, who wouldn’t want me?!), I think the part that bothers me the most is that Delbert kept me a secret from everyone in his life.
Now when I say secret, I mean top secret. This guy went through 28 years of his life hiding the fact that he had a daughter. From everybody. (Gotta kind of respect his determination and can-do attitude, I suppose). Actually, in all reality, I came into the world completely hidden on both sides. Even my mother hid her pregnant belly behind baggy sweaters and a haze of cigarette smoke.
Perhaps I was the product of an affair, perhaps it was that Delbert was as old as the hills when I was conceived, I’m not exactly sure what went down, but all I know is that neither of my parents were too stoked to be expecting a child. So much so that they planned on no one ever finding out.
So after a top-secret pregnancy, I spent my first few weeks of life in foster care, awaiting my adoption, until my mother had a change of heart. (No surprise there, like I said, I was freaking adorable).
Delbert, however, never did have a change of heart and our relationship was nothing more than those few visits, and some birthday cards signed ‘Del’.
So as you can imagine, when I found out he had died I was filled a variety of emotions – sadness for the relationship we never had, anger for how I had been treated, and excitement … this was my chance! My chance to connect with the family I’d been robbed of. To be honest, I’d kind of always been waiting for this. If the bugger wanted to keep me a secret in life, not much I could do about it. But fat chance stopping me when you’re dead, bucko!
Now despite how that last sentence comes across, I’ve always had a ‘Pollyanna’ type view of the world and I guess I had kind of imagined that after the initial shock of everything subsided, that my new-found fam would be pretty stoked to have me. I figured we would have an awkward first meeting and then develop some sort of relationship based on the old ‘God works in mysterious ways’ or ‘hey, this is weird. Our dad is kind of a jerk, eh?!’ … You know, the usual things that you might discuss over a demolished turkey and some empty pie plates.
Well, turns out, that wasn’t how it all went down.
There was no conversation over turkey. No awkward meeting. No bonding over our anger. Not even anything cool or dramatic like what you might see on ‘Days Of Our Lives’ or ‘General Hospital’.
There was nothing but a letter from my Dad’s estate lawyer saying that everyone was very shocked to hear about me and did not wish to communicate. Ever.
To make things slightly more interesting (and I guess this part does kind of have a bit of soap opera drama to it.), he also said that I wasn’t necessarily missing out, that my half-brother is a ‘weird guy’ and ‘not someone he would want to meet in a dark alley’.
Okay, not only was that super anticlimactic but I had waited years for this! I had fantasized about what this little interaction would look like … and getting a vague rejection letter implying that my bro is a deranged criminal wasn’t it!
Screw that crap!
I’m a freaking positive Polly-Anna and there is no way this was how this story was ending.
Sure maybe he was a little rough around the edges but maybe he was just like the tough-as-nails biker type that was surly and terrifying but once you got to know him he’s just a big ball of gush. You know, like I’d have to tell my boyfriends “Don’t mind my brother, it took us years to find each other and he is just very protective of me.” And he’d say things like ‘If you hurt her I’ll kill you and they’ll never find the body.” …. and then we would all laugh and laugh together.
I was sure, with time, he would come around. After all, how could he not be curious?!
Well, I’d love to be able to tell you that that is the way it all worked out. I wish I could say that curiosity got the better of my surly (but gooey on the inside) brother and that we are now working on developing some sort of relationship. I’d love to tell you that I’ve received answers and closure or even just a few simple things like a couple of photos and some medical history. But I can’t tell you any of that. I am still sitting here with a bunch of questions and a fair share of abandonment issues.
Anyway, I guess what I’ve come to realize is that sometimes in life, you don’t get the answers you want. Things don’t always wrap up nicely like they do at the end of a tv show, or have the dramatic flair of a soap opera episode, where you may find out that you have a sibling that you didn’t know about …. but you also find out that they are the town’s renowned neurosurgeon and heir to an empire!
Sometimes, in real life, you just end up with uninterested, uninvolved fathers … and brothers who follow suit.
And that’s okay. I’ve made it this far without them; I’ll be just fine going forward.
And who knows what the future holds. Perhaps my dad’s family will reach out some day, but I won’t be running across that meadow with arms outstretched for someone sprinting the other way.
Besides, I’ve got my own family now. And I’ve got my friends. And wine. And chocolate. And writing.