I never knew him yet, yesterday I sat on his grave for an hour and found it most difficult to leave. As I sat there looking around I noticed all the things I’d seen so many times before. A friends grave sitting catty-corner, a fountain in a lake that I had taken pix of my daughters at, a stained glass tombstone sitting directly in front of his… how could I have missed my biological fathers grave? He walked out on my mom when she was just weeks pregnant with me. He was 39, she was 19. He presented himself as a highly educated, hard-working, southern gentleman from higher class family. He was tall, extremely handsome, witty, intelligent and charming; everything my mom could have ever wanted in a man. For the life of me I could not wrap my head around how he could be so damn good and walk away– I was told about him when I was very young, about 6 years old I’d say. My mom had only good things to say about him but even at that young of an age I could sense the heartache in her voice. He crushed her when he walked away. Like any kid in this situation my mental status rode first car on the emotional roller-coaster from hell. Sometimes I romanticized him and prided myself on being just like him (from what I was told) and other times I hated his very existence. Some times I would OCD dig for any knowledge I could gain about him. In the beginning there was no internet, only mircofiche at the vital statistics building, sneaky phone calls and bold-face moves, all on my part of course. When I say, “sneaky phone calls,” I mean me calling his sister-in-law, Violet, pretending to be a woman from Lafayette High School (Carolyn Jones- I’ll never forget pulling that name out of my ass last minute because it seemed so 1953. haha) who was trying to get in touch with Glenn Martin for a class reunion that was coming up. Violet was so sweet and trusting. Within a short amount of time I picked up the phone and called his house. I will never forget hearing his voice for the very first time. I was 20 years old. I was standing in my kitchen amongst the white cabinets and salmon colored wall paper nervously pacing the length of the phone cord. I asked to speak to Glenn and when he confirmed who he was, my heart fell to my stomach. I explained who I was and almost immediately he denied his paternity. I remember my head popping up and thinking to myself, “Ah hell naw–this bitch did not just deny me!!” Now, for those of you who know me you will not find my comments as a shock but for those of you who don’t know me, let me just say, I lack a brain filter, I become 10 foot tall, bullet-proof and down right aggressive when I sense someone disrespecting me. Without thinking, my mouth opened and I said, “So let me get this straight.. you knew my mother, you had sex with my mother on Thanksgiving… did you use a rubber?” (imagine a ghetto’fied tone, lips pursing, eyes bugging and my head rolling) Glenn was apparently not use to anyone speaking to him in this way and he made that clear when he said something along the line of, “I don’t appreciate your question!” I remember firing right back with the same question except this time I tweaked it in a assholish way, “Oh I’m sorry, did you use a condom??” Glenn said to me, “You need to leave the past 20 years alone.” And I snapped right back, “Funny how I never told you how old I was.” Glenn fell silent for a moment then told me that he would call me back. I never expected him to call back. I figured my hot temper was too much for the old man to deal with so you can imagine my surprise when my phone rang a day or so later and upon answering it, hearing his voice for the second time in my life. An array of emotions flooded my entire body all at the same time, instantly. You know how on movies you see people with flashes of their life flashing before their eyes in a nanosecond? That’s how my emotions played out just upon hearing him say, “Is this Brandy?” Again my heart fell to my stomach… and within seconds it dropped to the floor with a crash and shattered around my feet into thousands of pieces. Glenn coldly warned, “This call is being recorded. I am not your father, do not call me or anyone in my family again or I will file charges against you for harassment.” With that he hung up. I remember holding the phone next to my ear and falling to my knees sobbing. I had never in my life experienced this kind of gut-wrenching heartache and I had been through a whole hell of a lot by this age. A few years passed, I got my first computer and AOL connection. Remember the, “ksssshhhh.. ding, ding ding..shhhhh…You’ve got mail!”? Sometimes I feel so damn old. hahaha Anyway, it didn’t take long before I figured out how to navigate the baby internet but try as I may, the internet was still too young to provide useful information on Glenn. Throughout the years the internet grew into an adult (like me) and together we found some missing pieces. ancestry.com.. Best. Website. Ever!! I was able to locate his family tree which included several photos, stories, immigration manifest, military draft notices, birth and death records, obituaries and grave sites. I was in OCD heaven!!! All of this information was flooding my screen long before I knew what a screenshot or printer was. My hand about fell off as I tried to write it all down. I called Glenn again in 2002, 10 years later to be exact. He refused to talk to me beyond telling me to stop calling him. I hung up and called an attorney about forcing him do a paternity test. I was a year too late; the statute of limitations had expired. I believed for the longest time that he would try to prosecute me and I cowered. He thought I wanted money or to destroy his family. It was never about his money, or about being part of his family. I had a family, I had a dad – I just needed closure. I needed to know small details of him like his favorite color, his favorite song… In my heart I was begging God to please let Glenn’s heart soften so he would sit across from me and talk to me for just 10 minutes. I would have given anything just to be able to smell him. God never answered that prayer, and I now know why. Ill share it in the next blog post. Eight years passed before I called him again. This time I did it without him knowing who I was. I ran a bill collection agency, I called from my desk. I knew caller ID would protect my identity and perhaps I might hear his voice differently; I hoped so anyway. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t know what I would say or how I would feel. He answered; forgetting it was the name of his grandfather I asked, “May I speak to Benjamin please?” He giggled and joking replied, “Well dear, Benjamin has been dead for about 120 years.” I felt so stupid. How could I have come up with that name out of all the names I could have pulled out of my ass??? We ended up talking for just a few minutes about Lexington and how he grew up here. (He lived in Ohio at this point) I hung up the phone pleased to have heard a sweeter, playful version of my father. Over the past 5 years I have Googled and dug around on the internet collecting more of the missing pieces to my life. I was always afraid I would come across an obituary but I never did. You cannot fathom the complete nothingness that washed over me when my son called to ask me how old my father was and upon reply, finding out he had died. When my son said he and his wife had been online looking up something about my father they came across it. I said, “No, he’s alive. He’s 81 and he lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Pam.” I hung up convinced that my son had come across a different Ramah G. Martin from Ohio. I mean, that guy was 79 and my father was 81 so it couldn’t have been him… right? I laughed it off to my husband who had already begun Googling Glenn before I hung up from my son. My husband asked me Glenn’s date of birth – I told him. He said, “He is dead.” I walked over to where he was sitting, looked at the photo of his tombstone he had pulled up. I wouldn’t have believed it had Glenn not been buried next to his father, Hank Stoner Martin. Two very uncommon names side-by-side. I called my son back and told him that he was right, Glenn was dead. Glenn died almost two years ago and I do not know how I didn’t come across it. Emotionally I have been absolutely befuddled.