Saturday, October 31, 2009

letters to an erstwhile father

Dear Daddy,

So, let's start this trip down memory lane with your separation from her mother. She can remember some of that, you know.

She remembers her mother scrambling to find both her shoes -- she was forever losing just one of the pair -- because she was late taking your kids to see you. She remembers her mother saying that since you never wanted to see your kids, she wasn't missing this chance. That if she had to dump the kids on your doorstep, she'd do it.

She remembers her mother taking them by the pizza place where you worked. They stood on the little ledge meant for kids, in front of the window to the kitchen, watching daddy make pizzas.

She doesn't know whether this was before the separation or after, but it seemed that the mother had brought them there to see you -- to remind you that you had kids. Or she was dropping them off at the end of your shift. That memory is a little bit hazy.

But she remembers being fascinated by daddy making pizzas. As if it were rocket science, and you were the most incredible daddy in the world. She could have stood there on that platform, looking in that window at you, forever.

Much later in life, as an adult, her mother let it slip that she'd briefly been in a psych ward in a hospital during that time. That she'd only gotten out because a visitor for someone else turned out to be someone she knew, and that person helped get her released. She doesn't know how accurate that is, because, well...it's mother, and her stories are always skewed to make her seem the victim.

But one thing that has always puzzled her: the mother hinted that you had played some role in her being in that hospital. In fact, she thinks the only reason the mother told her was because she thought it would make her angry with you for 'doing that terrible thing to her.' She laughed inside, because it confirmed what she'd 'suspicioned' all along.

Of course, this confirms that you must have realized that there was something wrong with the mother. And that begs the question: why, oh why in the bloody hell would you leave your little ones with the mother if you sensed that something wasn't right with her?

She's well aware that in the mid-60's, the mother always got custody of the children. That it was generally accepted that children had to be with their mother. But you could have stayed close, visited them regularly, made sure that they were alright. You could have protected them from the mother's mental illness, and the subsequent abuse.

Instead, you chose not only to leave the area, but to move to Canada. So you wouldn't have to pay child support. Which the mother never let them forget. In her anger over having to support her kids completely on her own, she never failed to find moments to tell the kids just how much you didn't want them.

And from the moment you left, you never looked back. No phone calls. No letters. Never once a birthday card. You left your babies. With a woman who was mentally ill. Never an attempt to find them again.

In fact, she can't figure out how, years later, the mother's second husband was able to legally adopt the kids (and wait till she tells you about him, dear daddy). How was the adoption done legally? Were they unable to find you and the kids were officially deemed 'abandonend'?

Or did they find you, and you signed them away with a pen. Wiped away your name on their birth certificates, and put his there. She can't decide which is worse. But as bad as it is, she thinks she'd prefer it be the former, rather than the latter.

When she was very young, she was sure you'd come back for them. Later, it became her regular fantasy -- daddy would find his kids and take them away with him. Only you never did. Her later fantasy was that she was completely adopted, or switched at birth, and her real parents would come and save her one day. That second fantasy got her through lot, dear daddy -- a hell of a lot.

And if she's really being honest, a part of her still wishes she'd been switched at birth. She'd rather believe her real parents don't realize they don't have her, than to believe that one of her parents didn't want her, and the other one resented her.

There's more, so much more, dear daddy, but no time right now. She'll be writing again, soon, with more memories...

1 comment:

PKB said...

Dear Spring,

Your blog was heartbreaking. Isn't it odd that two people could create a child and then treat it like their own emotional punching bag. What you wrote really touched me.

I did want to say this: look at how you have succeeded in spite of them. Look at what an amazing person you are, despite life's challenges. Look at how you have survived and thrived. You did good.