Why Father’s Day is Painful to me …

One of the only photos my grandmother kept of my dad
One of the only photos my grandmother kept of my dad

So recently I blogged about why I hate mother’s day. For me Father’s day is also painful, but for very different reasons. I was never really allowed to know my father. It should be common knowledge now that I was the product of a “one-night-stand.” Months later my mother discovered she was pregnant and she blamed my father for it (despite acknowledging that she had been a willing participant in the act that brought me into this world). She wanted nothing to do with him after that – despite his making a generous offer of buying her a small house and taking care of us. Instead she moved back in with her parents, and let my grandparents raise me on their very meager $500/month social security income.

Now my grandmother didn’t agree with my mom’s decision to keep me away from my father, so she did sneak out with me to visit him at his Oak Park apartment complex when I was very small. For the first 3 years of my life, my father was able to watch me grow and develop.

Then, one fateful Summer day (I say Summer because I recall it being warm outside), when I was about 3.5 years old (so this would have been around the Summer of 1975), my father came to pick my grandmother and I up for lunch. He parked down the street as to not raise the suspicions of the neighbors. I recall him joyously picking me up and putting me on his shoulders while walking the rest of the way to his car.

We then went to a restaurant that I recall fascinated me. Inside the ceilings went up very high, and there were balconies with lots of plants and ivy everywhere. The waiters also were carrying these huge platters around with relative ease. The entire experience felt magical. There was also another little girl having lunch with us too. I recalled her name being Kim and that she was a “big girl” (as in older … my recollection of that day had me thinking she was around 12, but I later discovered she would have only been around 6 at the time).

Later, after we got home, we discovered that my mother had come home from work early, and she found out about our excursions with my father. She immediately grabbed me, and shook me as hard as she could – screaming that if I ever saw my father again, that I would never be welcome back and I’d never see my grandparents again. I remember being so conflicted, feeling like it was up to me to actually make a choice between my father and grandparents. I was inconsolable for days afterwards.

My grandmother tried to console me, says she’d try to find a way, but my mom actually went and had a court order put out against my father to keep him away from me. I’m sure she made up some allegations against him that were false and they believed her.

I held out hope that once I turned 18 (which is when the court order expired), that he would come back and visit me again. My 18th birthday came and went. My high school graduation came and went, even college graduation. I kept hoping he’d appear and surprise me.

It wasn’t until I had relocated to Colorado and began a search for him online that I discovered why he never came, as he had promised my grandmother that he would.

In early 1983, he was on a business trip, driving down a highway, when a drunk 18-wheel semi-truck driver hit his car. He passed away hours later. I would have been only 11. He never had the chance to fulfill his promise of coming back for me.

Thankfully he left me with 3 wonderful sisters, two lovely step-sisters and an amazing step-mom. They have helped me get to know who he was.

My step-mom told me that when he died, he still carried a photo of a little girl his wallet. She always wondered who that little girl was, but when I appeared she knew it must have been a photo of me.

There is a hole in my heart that will never be filled … and that’s why this day, of all days, is the most painful for me.