Flying Blind on a Leap of Faith
My parents divorced when I was two. My father wasn’t part of my life after that. My half- brother was born when I was ten and my mother and step-father separated a year later. Mom worked nights and I was the primary care giver for the baby.
One night, as I was making dinner, I heard a knock at the door. We didn’t get visitors very often so this was curious. I made sure the chain was on the door as I opened it. There was a man with a grocery bag in his arms. He said, “Hey! Aren’t you going to let your dear old dad in?”
He looked vaguely familiar but from where? He said, “Your mom told me it would be dinner time, am I too late?”
I searched his face and remembered seeing him briefly on my fifth birthday, he was, in fact, my dad. Immediately I thought, “What the hell is he doing here?!”
I let him in. He took his bag of goodies to the kitchen where my brother was sitting in his high chair eating cheerios. As the stranger unpacked the groceries it was obvious he had no idea what kids like to eat, but then how would he?
Mom came home early that night, which was very unusual. She was as giddy as a school girl and falling all over her ex-husband (twice removed). I was actually embarrassed for her.
He stuck around for almost two weeks. Most nights he hung out at the bar where my mother worked. Sometimes he brought dinner home for us, and once he actually took us out to dinner.
Then he was gone. Just when I got used to seeing him when I came home from school he was gone. I wasn’t all that emotionally invested but it seemed odd.
Mom came home and informed me… “His other daughter is sick… he loves her more than he loves you so he went home to her. It’s your fault.”
Fast forward eleven years… I’m married, living in New Jersey with my husband and two small children of my own. I found a letter in the mail from Florida. A letter from the sister I’d never met. The sister my dad left us for because he loved her more than me.
She had just discovered she had a sister and nephews. She wanted to know anything and everything about this ‘wing’ of the family. The letter seemed heartfelt to me. I answered her.
Soon after the letter was sent I got a phone call. I heard, “Barb?” I said, “Yes.”
“This is your dad.”
Stunned silence from my end.
“I saw the letter you sent your sister.”
That seemed so strange to me… my sister. What the hell did I know about a sister except YOU love her more than me?
“I would love to see you and really love to see my grandsons!” he said.
Trying to think on my feet I said, “I really can’t afford to fly to Florida right now.”
“I’ll wire you the money!” was his answer.
Holy shit! What do I do now?? I said, “That’s really nice of you but I can’t just pick up and fly to Florida right now.”
“Why?” he asked.
I had no answer.
“Think about it,” he said, “I’ll call you back tomorrow.”
Needless to say I got absolutely no sleep that night. Why would I want to take my kids into this, potentially, hostile environment? Hadn’t he proven he relegated me to second class?
But… there was a sister. I had never had a sister. She seemed genuine about wanting to meet me, learn about my life… get to know her nephews. A sister. I was intrigued… and I had never been to Florida.
My husband thought it was a good idea even though he couldn’t join us. He suggested I leave the return flight open. If I was uncomfortable when I got there I could return the next day. That was my safety net.
I didn’t have an extensive wardrobe in those days but I had every bit of it on my bed trying to decide what to pack as a million questions ran through my head. What if his wife hated me? Would she be the shrew my mother said she was? What if _____ (fill in the blank). My stomach was in knots.
As it turned out I stayed a week. His wife was lovely and I really enjoyed being with my sister. Time with my father was awkward. He kept trying to find common ground and the sad truth… there was none.
He had a horse… I’m not into horses. He had a boat… I don’t swim and fear deep water so that wasn’t happening. He played golf… I had just taken lessons. Eureka!
So on a balmy and overcast day we went out to play golf. I was terrible at it but we enjoyed a peaceable couple of hours. It was a start.
I felt it was good for my kids to get to know their grandfather, since they had no relationship with my mother. Unfortunately over the years my father has shown his true colors and we no longer have a relationship.
I’ve never regretted taking that leap of faith and flying blindly into uncharted territory. I’ve always felt it’s best to know the truth than to wonder.
Barbara Hammond is an Artist, Writer/Blogger and Published Author and illustrator of The Duffy Chronicles, her first children’s book. Blogging made her realize we all have a story. Sometimes we don’t want to expose the underbelly of our story but that is often where the true lessons come from. Our circumstances do not define us. She is a true optimist and living proof that a good sense of humor can get you through almost anything.
Barbara, I admire what you did. You rose above the heartache of hearing your mother say, “His other daughter is sick… he loves her more than he loves you so he went home to her. It’s your fault.” I cannot imagine the impact of such cruel words on a small child, and the fact that you were willing to give a chance to your sons to get to meet their grandfather, and to yourself to meet your half sister is heroic.
Please share your comments with Barbara below and she’ll be over to answer. I met Barbara online, and know she’s very giving and caring. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @hammondart.
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