Day 180 – The End

It’s late and the house has finally settled.  I came into my room to do a little homework but as soon as I opened my laptop, I realized that I hadn’t written in almost a week.  Last time I wrote I left off feeling numb over the death of my biological father.  This is how the story continued:

After making a trip to the cemetery and tearfully speaking to the wind, I came home.  I stood in the shower with my face in cool water hoping that my swollen eyes would find themselves normal by the time my husband came home.   Although I can easily find the words to describe my thought process when writing, I am quite private where my feelings can be seen. When I cannot hide my emotions I hide myself away from others.   After my shower I sat at my laptop looking at my blog site when all of a sudden I felt this incredible urge to contact Pam (Glenn’s wife). Going back to her webpage I located her Contact me link and opened it.  Basically I was forced to swallow every ounce of pride I had when I emailed her explaining who her husband was to me and I pretty much got on my cyber hands and knees pathetically begging her to call me.  I gave her every social media site I am listed on so that she could do her homework-  the last thing I wanted was for Pam to think I was some crazy person looking for a handout. At the end of the email I listed another several ways for her to contact me and signed off by thanking her in advance for her time.

While I was piddling around the house trying to take my mind off the last three days, my husband called to let me know he was on his way home.  His call was interrupted by another – an unknown caller from Ohio. Taking a deep breath, I clicked over. “Hello?”   The older voice on the other end asked for me by name.  When I said, “This is Brandy,” she confirmed what I already knew- – it was Pam.  Through the tears around my throat, before she could speak another word, I thanked her and told her how glad I was that she had called,    Her next words sent my heart to my stomach, “Don’t thank me yet, you might not like what I have to say!” she was stern.  Instantly I knew- – I just knew Pam was going to be as bitter and cold as Glenn was to me.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Pam told me that she and Glenn had divorced in 2008.  She vented many ugly things about him that shocked me.  I could tell that the angry words that Pam was spewing was driven from a heart that had been broken by a man that she once loved dearly.  I felt bad for her, more so than I did for myself. I mean, which is worse, hurting over a man you loved only in your mind for 30 years or hurting over a man you spent nearly everyday with for 30 years?  She definitely got the shit-end of that stick!

The reason I say that her words were driven by heartache is because as many times she told me something bad about him, she told me something good.  I could hear her voice lift when she spoke of his charm.  She said he could get anyone to do anything for him because of it.  Pam told me that he was tall, thin and very handsome.  I found out that he had, “an amazing voice,” and that he could fix anything. Pam told me that he was extremely intelligent and quick witted.  Thanking her first, I asked her if she could tell me just a few things for my medical history-   I learned that he had a heart attack at age 60 and that he survived something called Guillain Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves.   I also learned that he had a bad hip and that his back would get jacked up every time he was under large amounts of stress.  This hip and back problem made me smile- not because he had pains but because I have the same ones!!  She told me that he was drafted into the Air Force while he was at Georgetown University and spent 6 years enlisted. 

Pam let me talk a little about myself.  I told her that I was a wife and a mother- – a grandmother.  I told her that I was educated and that once upon a time I was a Fire EMT near where they lived and that currently I was wrapping up a degree in criminal justice. She said that was funny because Sarah, my half-sister, was also a fire medic and had recently graduated from law school.  That put a HUGE smile on my face. It is nice to know that I have a little sister (3 years younger) who has somewhat walked in my footsteps without knowing it.  That’s pretty freaking awesome!!

Again I thanked Pam for everything. She told me that she had known about me for years- from the first time I called her house matter of fact because she overheard the way Glenn spoke to me. I confessed that I tricked her sister-in-law, Violet, into giving me her phone number by pretending to be someone from Glenn’s high school.  Pam giggled.  She told me I hadn’t tricked anyone, that Violet knew who I was and she gave me the number because she didn’t know why Glenn had the right to run from me.

I told Pam that I grew up with a dad who loved me from the time I was 18 months old and that I never contacted Glenn because I wanted money or because I needed a dad-     I tried to know Glenn simply to know Glenn. I wanted to know who I was biologically.  I wanted to see the face of my sperm donor and know what I might die of when I am 80.   Pam told me that Glenn was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009; he died four years later up in New Jersey under the care of Sarah and that it “served him right.”  I can only imagine what that was about!!

Pam told me to go to my dad, the man who raised me, get down on my knees and kiss the ground that he walked on because Glenn was an asshole who I should not romanticize. With that the call ended.   I had so many things to process.  The Glenn that Pam told me about is nothing like the Glenn my mother remembered. (He was a Gemini!!) hahaha….

I had to chew on the bolus of every thing I thought my father was and I had to regurgitate it and chew it again until it was broken down completely and ready to be swallowed for good.  That’s a gross thing, comparing this man to cud, I know.  That’s how it has felt for 30 years.  Every time I thought he was gone, I’d hack him back up. He was always just sitting there, in the pit of my stomach, undigested.

I sent Pam one more email.  I told her that throughout my life my mother would ebb and flow but the one thing I never forgot was her scent.  Every time I opened a bar of Dove soap I could inhale my mother and she felt close.  I asked if she could please tell me what he smelled like and perhaps what kind of music that he liked.    About two days passed and Pam replied.  Glenn used Dial soap (funny because its what I have always preferred) and he wore Stetson cologne- a cowboy scent (I laughed my ass off at that one!) and that he loved Johnny Cash.

In the end this is where I stand; I will respect Glenn as my biological father and I thank him wholeheartedly for my quick wit, good looks and charm. (insert shit eating grin here) I will most likely smile every time my hip pops out of place and I will probably think of him every time I open a bar of Dial…  however, I will not mourn him a second more.   To my dad, the man who has always loved me, who has raised me from 18 months old, I give all the thanks to him for everything else; especially for teaching me about forgiveness.

Although Glenn was an asshole he was my asshole and I forgive him.  What’s done is done and now its over.

The End

btw- just looking at the day– today is day 180.  Fitting indeed. 

 

Day 174 – Befuddled

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. befuddled