Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My father died - literally and theoretically.

I started this blog 2 years ago when we moved to Pennsylvania. So much has changed since then that it would take far too much time to explain. In conclusion of the past 2 years all I know is life is never simple.
I am amazed at the shifts and turns that life takes and how simple decisions can take on a life of their own. Most recently this theory took on a whole new meaning.

I recently found out that my biological father is dead. The use of the word biological gives insight into our relationship. The last time I saw him I was 11. It was in a back room of an old country courthouse. Beneath a large conference table my older brother clasped my hands as we recounted all the reasons we had been told to never want to see him again. When he gave up his legal rights later that afternoon, our family celebrated and we were congratulated. I never really knew what happened or why. I just did what you have to do, move on.

Occasionally I would think of him. I always wondered if he knew it was my birthday. And when doctors would ask about my parents medical history I would lie and say he was dead. The questions never stopped.

Teachers, soccer coaches, In Law's. I got tired of answering it cause what are you really suppose to say when someone asks about a father you never knew.

I googled his name a few times. Wondered aimlessly though Internet searches to no avail. I paid one of those people finding sites a $20 renewable subscription to find him. All that led me to was a disconnected phone number. I stopped looking. I kept moving on.

Then a month ago my brother was in town. He said he had been looking for him for over a year.
I told him to try the half brother.
"What half brother?" he replied.

This was common in our family. We don't talk about things. After my mom left him and he gave up his rights we moved on. Nobody ever talked about him except to point out the negative traits my brother and I had somehow genetically inherited from him.

I promised my brother I would try and find him since somehow I knew more than he did. I started by googling his name. The result was a 2 paragraph obituary about an old man near Abilene. The name fit, age was way off but it did mention he was a pipe welder. The welder part was significant cause one of the stories my mom had told me was how he was such a meticulous welder that companies sought after him.

Maybe this was an uncle. A coincidence. But then I saw a sentence that will always stay with me.

He is preceded in death by one son, age 57.

I kept googling.
Then I found it.

A brief description of a man I would never know. He had died 51 days earlier less than a 5 hour car ride from my home. We were named in the obituary. This was what I told my brother. That is how we knew that he was dead and that all of our questions would never get answered.

I needed to know more. I was sick of nobody answering my questions and now the one person who could was gone. I tracked down distant cousins and long forgotten aunts and even the half brother. I didn't know why I needed to call these people or what I was trying to find out but somehow it helped hearing about him.

I wrote him a letter once. I had one question for him. Was it me? When a parent leaves and never looks back you always wonder if it was you. No, this is not logical but it's true. What was it about me that made me disposable. Cause maybe if I can figure that out then I can be OK. I will never know why he forgot about me. Maybe I never really wanted to know.

His kid brother told me he was haunted by something, always running from something. That was all that I could relate to. That gave me comfort. I know how it feels to run. To not look at things cause it hurts too much.

I was sad for a day or so. Not sad cause he died cause how can you miss someone you never knew. But I was sad that life is so small and so fast and on a normal Thursday afternoon somewhere he died and I never knew.

I was sad that life can be that insignificant and that the choices we make can take on a life of their own.
 I wonder now if in those last few moments of his life if he saw my face.

I will remember him though. He taught me how to spiral a football and use to buy me chocolate malts at a cafe with red bar stools. Some reason fresh cut grass reminds me of him. I think I saw him once in an airport. I think I have his hands. I have 3 photos of him. I sometimes think I can remember how he laughed but I'm not so sure.

And as much as I would like to move on from never feeling anything for him somehow I know I can't. Somewhere there is a piece of him wedged in my mind that I have never been able to let go of.

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