Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On the subject of fathers and such

So, I have this addiction to a show on MTV called True Life. Every time it comes on, I do my damnedest to watch it. I'm sure you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that it was on at the ass crack of who the fuck is awake right now.

The one that I watched was called I'm Looking For My Father. This touched a nerve that I wasn't expecting. I thought that I was ok with the situation with my biological father, but now I'm wondering if that's really the case.

I didn't know my biological father until I was 18. Hell, I didn't even know that my step-dad wasn't my biological father until I was around 9 and found my baby book. I'm sure my mom was incredibly thrilled when I approached her asking why there was another man's name in the place of father. Heh.

I tried to look for him when I was in junior high school. I had a computer class and we were making databases in DOS. (HA! Holy shit those things were archaic. My screen was in green while everyone else's was orange. I was teh awesomest!)


So, I had this assignment to make a database of whatever I wanted. My brilliant idea was to get out ye ole phonebook and make one comprised of everyone in Flint with my biological father's last name. (At the time, my last name was the same as my step-father's. I was never formally adopted cuzz the judge ordered that my biological father had to sign off on me and no one could find him, but apparently all my mom had to do was teach me how to spell it and enroll me in school with any name she wanted to give me and no one asked questions. Damned lazy 80s people.) I got an A on my database and was left to sit there kinda twiddling my thumbs until I could figure out what to do with it. Now, the irrational fear of calling people on the phone was just beginning to blossom at that point, so there was no way in hell I was cold calling a damned stranger. Hell fuck no to that. So I decided to write a very basic letter telling whoever happened to read it what my name was and why I was writing to them. I then made photocopies of some of my baby pictures. I was all set to start mailing them out when my mom and step-dad decided to get divorced. Since this meant that my mom, my brother and I were moving, my mailing idea got put on hold indefinitely.

Fast forward to my senior year of high school. That's when I started dating Ron. (He's in some of my bday pictures) On one of our first dates, we went to his aunt's house and I got to meet his mother's extended family. Ron introduced me and one of his aunt's told me that I looked exactly like someone she used to know and asked my last name. When I told her, the entire room got quiet. I was asked if I knew someone that has my exact name. I replied that I was named after my grandfather Leslie and his wife who had passed when my biological father was 8, but that I didn't exactly know them. When I mentioned that my grandfather didn't like to be called Leslie and went by his middle name, it was like I had just told everyone that they had won the lottery. Come to find out, my Pee-Paw (grandfather), actually helped raise Ron's mother and sister's. And the person they thought I looked exactly like? That would be my biological father's mother, who passed when he was 8. So, that was a bit overwhelming! They gave me a picture from way, way back in the day, when my Pee-Paw and Ron's grandfather were teenagers and told me stories, but everyone had lost contact at some point before Ron was born or when he was just a bitty baby, I can't remember which. They also told us that we each had a cousin that was supposed to marry the other, but something happened and they split up, but apparently kept in contact with each other for the rest of their lives. (Hmm... Sounds a bit familiar, doncha think?)

Later that year, Ron and I were in a production of South Pacific. I had the lead, which meant that the local papers wanted to interview me for the stories they ran near show time. So, I was on the front page of one paper and had little blurbs in a lot of others. During one dress rehearsal, there was someone strange sitting out in the "audience". (It wasn't really an audience during rehearsals, but the tech people and the director were always out there watching) I assumed that it was the wife of the guy who played opposite me and continued on. After rehearsal, I went out to smoke cuzz I was a rebel. Or something. Anyway, when I came back in, this strange lady that had been watching approached me and told me she was my aunt. That didn't even phase me cuzz my mother's side of the family is so big that I'm meeting new relatives all the time. When she said aunt, I figured that she was a great aunt or something like that. When she mentioned that the last anyone knew, I was living in California, she had my attention. See, my mom's side of the family knew we were back cuzz we had been to like a billoionty family reunions since moving back to Michigan in like 1987. The only people that wouldn't know would've been my biological father's family. Come to find out, one of the relatives on that side of the family had read the front page article about the show and recognized my name. They started making phone calls and that lead her to the dress rehearsal. (The paper fucked up and labeled that an actual show date, so when she showed up to a closed rehearsal, she explained to the director what was going on and was allowed in.) We exchanged phone numbers, had a friend of mine take our picture and that was that.

The day I met my father was just like any other day, really. I was told that he might go to one of the shows, but to not get my hopes up cuzz he wasn't sure if he wanted to meet me with my mom's side of the family around. Understandable, there was some bad blood there. So, I went about my day as normal. When the curtain went up and made my first entrance, I happened to look out into the audience. He was dead center, with this HUGE smile plastered on his face. He was like that for the entire show. Afterwards, I pointed him out to my mom, who didn't really say much of anything. She was always very careful not to talk badly about him when I was around cuzz she wanted me to be able to form my own opinion of him, which I think was very awesome of her to do. He, my mom and my grandmother exchanged hellos and then my mom's family got the hell outta there so I could talk to him. It was pretty weird and we didn't have a lot of time (I was still in costume and everyone was pretty much waiting on me to lock the place up) so we made plans to have a family BBQ to welcome me back. He told me that I could meet my sister and brothers then.

Now, I'd known that I had a sister cuzz she was born when my biological father was still in my life. We're like 16 months apart or something. But I had no clue that I had two more brothers. I went to the BBQ and all went really well. All these family members that hadn't seen me since I was like 5 kept coming up to me and telling me I looked just like my grandmother and would tell me stories about how I would play with the chickens on my aunt's farm. It was a good day.

Over the next year, I would visit my other family periodically. I went out to visit my Pee-Paw in Florida and had a great time. I was always nervous to visit bio-dad cuzz they lived in Flint and I had never been deeper than the fuckin mall. One night, my biological father told me that he quit drinking the day after my mom left him and hadn't touched a drop since. Then we went up to the liquor store and he split a 12 pack with me. I was 19. I stopped trusting him at that point.

The final straw came when I got a phone call at like 1 in the morning from one of my brother's telling me that if I didn't get out there to watch him and the youngest one, they'd be taken away to foster care cuzz my biological father was going to jail. I talked to the cops and told them that I was on my way. When I got there, he was sitting on the ground outside the cop car. When I asked what was wrong, they said that he thought he was having a heart attack. (I later learned that this was a favorite tactic of his to get out of going to jail.) When I asked what happened, I learned that my youngest brother's mother (dudes, just so you know, we're about to enter Jerry Springerville. You might wanna hold on tight.) left my biological father for the dude across the street. I guess he liked to rub it in my bio-dad's (that's so much easier to type) face by knocking on the door and telling him what a good fuck she was. Well, on this particular night, my bio-dad decided to do something about it. He closed the door, went to the back yard, got a shovel, came back to the front door, opened it and beat the shit out of the guy with the shovel. All in front of my youngest brother. The cops hauled bio-dad off and I was left in a bad part of Flint with my two younger brothers and my ex-husband. (We were 19 then, so not married. Yet.) Oh! And the dude that bio-dad beat with the shovel? Yeah, he was at home across the street. Needless to say, I was freaked out. Called my sister and was told that bio-dad does that shit all the time and to not bother her with it. Finally tracked down the one brother's mom (my sister and one of my brothers share the same mom) and she told me I'd have to wait till she got out of work before she could pick up the one brother. No clue what was gonna happen to the youngest brother. I finally talked Marsha into taking both boys and went home. My ex-husband got to deal with the after math.

I pretty much cut contact with bio-dad after that. I brought Alex over to see him once when he was around 2. Lost contact with my sister and brothers. Pretty much stopped talking to that whole side of my family. I only meant to cut out bio-dad, not everyone.

Last year, I worked with someone who turned out to be my cousin on bio-dad's side of the family. They were having a family reunion that I wasn't able to attend, but she went and told everyone about me. She gave my sister my phone number and pretty much got us all back in contact. My sister and I talk almost every day and usually see each other every Wednesday when I get out of darts. Lately, it's been every other cuzz I work every other Thursday and I just can't hang with the big boys like I used to, but we're getting pretty close. I keep my nephew (who is 19 younger than my son) every Tuesday. (Coincidentally, as I was typing that, he woke up for the day. LOL) I've seen my youngest brother once, but I talk to him on the phone occasionally and I talk to his girlfriend on MySpace sometimes. I talk to my other brother (not sure what to call him. He's younger, but he's also the same age as Jesse, the one that just left for the ARMY) on occasion, too. The only one who I don't talk to is bio-dad. The only time I've spoken to him was when he came to pick up my youngest brother and his girlfriend when they came to visit me. He said maybe 5 words and that was it. When my youngest brother called on Christmas, he wouldn't talk to me. Said he was too sick.

I'm not really sure where to go at this point. I've got my siblings in my life, so I'm thinking that I might just need to be happy with that and move on. I'm incredibly happy to have them in my life, so that's awesome. I just kinda wish Scott, that's bio-dad's name, would talk to me for a bit. But you can't always get what you want, right?


Cricket said...

First, let me say how awesome you are. You sure handle Springer life very well. I am so glad you have life partitioned the way you want. It is a good compromise.

How is Jesse doing? Have you heard from him?

Cricket said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
brite69 said...

My mom got a postcard from him yesterday and all it said was that he made it safe and was doing well. I guess they have some promotion going where you can buy DVDs of the graduation and whatnot and that's what was on the front of the postcard. He said he'd be writing more soon. I'm hoping he remembers to write me! LOL

Becky said...

You handle yourself admirably, duder. Seriously, that's some heavy shit.

honeywine said...

You just made me feel so much better about my family. lol

Sad that we have to let people go sometimes. My Dad waited until about 5yrs ago to go MIA then he suddenly divorced my Mom (after 40yrs) and remarried (to a gold diggger). It's kinda complicated. One thing it's taught me is that all I can do for him is feel sorry for him and let it go. He sees himself as a martyr and tries to punish us for choosing to stay around Mom (an elderly & ill woman whereas he's still spry). There's really nothing you can do, but be open to them while protecting your boundaries.

Damn, why do I always sound like Dr. Phil? Ugghhh...

Manny said...

My hat's off to you for being that brave. I haven't seen my dad (btw, love the "bio-dad" nickname) in 18 (19?)years since my parents split and he hightailed it to NY. Before my grandmother died she told me that after he went to NY he had two more boys and named (wait for it)...Manny and William (my full brother's name). I'm sure I'm going to one day take the time and $$ to track him down. Hopefully I handle it as well as you did.

brite69 said...

Damn Manny. Your bio-dad has got a GINORMOUS set of balls on him. If my bio-dad had done something like that, I think I may have been forced to blow him up. Or possibly crotch stomp him. You know, to stop the breeding and what not.

Manny said...

(checking my underwear)

...Yes, he must have a GINORMOUS set of balls.