I was ten years old when I found out my sister existed. I was forty before I knew her name.
For the most part, mom raised me by herself. She was a good woman, very practical. She worked hard, put my needs first and didn’t shelter me about how the world really worked. Education was a priority. I got the “Twice as hard for half as much” speech every few months. She encouraged me to follow whatever career I wanted. When I was sixteen we went to the gynecologist and got some birth control. It wasn’t a big deal. My personal life choices didn’t bother her. She didn’t blink when I dyed my hair purple in college or made some non-traditional dating choices in my mid-twenties. She told me don’t get married until thirty. She didn’t care if I had kids.
My mom never smoked. You could count the glasses of wine she drank in a year on one hand and have fingers left. She did the mall walking thing. She ate a variety of good food. After I left for college she enjoyed a few gentlemen callers. She traveled a lot, sold Mary Kay and had a ton of friends. She died of cancer at fifty-four.
As a stark contrast, I know next to nothing about my dad. They split when I was very young. He came around during birthdays and the holidays. I only know this because there are pictures.
One afternoon, when I was twelve, he called. I sat on the sea green carpet while movers carted furniture from the living room into a truck. My grandmother whispered for me not to tell him where we were going. I did as I was told. I always did back then. Maryland was were we were going and I have no idea why it had to be such a secret. It was a couple of years before mom talked to him and told him where we were. Today, what they did would be illegal.
I found out my dad died when my sister reached out to me on Facebook. She knew things about me. Dad never hid me from her. Both of us had stories about the other that were not quite true. We’ve put all the old stuff to the side and now I’m so happy to have her in my life.
Because of her I know dad loved music. Especially rock n roll. He was a good cook. He wasn’t educated, but worked hard. He was thoughtful and kind.
It’s too late to get answers about what happened between my parents. I’m angry with my mom for stealing me away from dad. I’m furious with my grandmother for manipulating us all. Strangely enough, dad is the one I feel bad for. He’s the one that was left with nothing but a handful of pictures and fast fading memories of his first born. He’s the one who never heard a kind word from me after the age of twelve. I’m sad because if we’d had a chance to know each other, I think we would’ve been friends.
I dedicated my first book to mom. Dad, book two is for you.