The second year of Salted Lithium ends on November 14, 2008. This post is part one in a series looking back at the last two years.
The idea of these Anniversary Posts is to encourage people to hopefully take part in the conversations which were started on the original posts last year or two years ago… but sending money is totally cool instead.
After “manic depression” the most common, and most important topic has been my relationship with my father. These are selections from some of those posts…
“In 1978 my mother escaped, literally, from a completely devastated marriage with my brother and myself. It involved lies, subterfuge, a train ride and panicked phone calls. One morning Larry and I were playing in his driveway, that afternoon I was 600 miles away.”
“Larry, The Escape From My Father And My Twelfth Home In Nine Years”; June 9, 2007
“My sisters grew up not knowing they had brothers because of my father’s lies. He only told them when it became inevitable that my brother and I were going to make an effort to connect with them.”
“A Lying Maoist Revolutionary Con Artist Stole My Family And All He Left Me With Was A Crappy Bike”; June 25, 2007
“My grandfathers absence and unwillingness to be my father-substitute wasn’t something I considered Unusual, partly because that level of neglect was something I expected from the men in my life as I grew up. But also because I believed the ’suffering’ was what made me mature.”
“…Turning Thirty When I Was Ten Was Not As Good A Life Plan As You Might Think”; October 5, 2007
“He was a stocky old-school prison Chaplin, the kind of Bible Talking Dude with blue-ink tats and lots of stories he could relate the Bible to us with. A twelve-stepper who looked like John Goodman after he lost some of the weight. I’m pretty sure he converted all the fatherless boys that year.”
“For A Long Time I Believed In ‘Father’ But Even The Devil Believes In God… What I’ve Never Had Is Faith”; October 25, 2007
“Lying is a tool, mostly one of survival, I learned a long time ago. One of my first experiences in my New School after we escaped the Cult we were in was crying at the lunch table and when someone asked “what’s with the new kid?” I told them “my father died yesterday.””
“The Fish That Bit Off A Finger Plus This One Time My Father Died And Other Lies I Have Told”; December 12, 2007
“[I]t took two years when it should have taken six weeks, but the last piece of my father’s identity has been removed from my wallet. My new birth certificate came in the mail yesterday. It’s purple. It has the name I was born with in the “old” column and the one I’ve chosen to replace it with in the “new” column.”
“Sure A Rose May Smell Just As Sweet But Call It Herpes des Quatre Saisons And People Will Never Plant Them Again”; June 10, 2008
For the most part my relationship with my father does not exist. This has always been his choice. There was no alimony, no child support, no presents, no phone calls, no letters or postcards and no visits.
He showed up at our door a few weeks after mom took my brother and I and escaped the cult we grew up in, and he started. He stayed most of the night arguing with mom all of the reasons why he thought we should come back with him.
Because all I really understood of what I overheard were the bits about money for the next few days I collected every penny I could find, I emptied my piggy-bank, put all of the change into an envelope and asked mom to mail it to him.
That was when I was eight. When I was fifteen I took the initiative and put together the money I had earned working as a farmhand and took a train to his parents home. Two days later I took a train to the city where my father lived and worked. We spent thirty minutes in his office, then a little more than an hour in a restaurant where he bought me a Coke.
When I was thirty I had a job interview in Toronto so I took the opportunity to meet my sisters for the first time. During the visit my father, who was not living with their mother anymore, stopped in for a few moments. After shaking my hand he sat at the dining room table and watched me and his older daughter talk. I kept waiting for him to say something, but he never did.
When I moved to that city so I could be closer to my sisters while they were in university I had weekly contact with my father. It was very strange. There are so many pieces to all of us that we only find in our parents, or in our brothers and sisters, or in the two sides of our family.
As he has been getting older — I believe he’s in his mid-60’s now — I’ve been periodically asking myself whether I’ll attend his funeral.
I’m still not sure. That’s where our relationship currently stands.
Writing about him here on Salted over the past two years has been the first time I’ve been able to collect and sort through the memories I have of him. More importantly, however, this blog has allowed me to examine what growing up without a father has meant to my development, and to find out what behaviours come from his total lack of involvement in my life. Salted has given me a decent shot at being able to fix things I thought I was stuck with.
But mostly Salted has given me a place to just get out what I’ve needed to say about him in a meaningful, thoughtful and helpful way. Because the previous thirty years of quiet self-loathing and internalized ranting just weren’t helping like I thought they would’ve…
As always feel free to leave a comment here, but the idea of these Salted Super Special Second Anniversary Posts is to continue the conversations on the original posts. The idea being I’d like to encourage people to read the conversations which were started last year or two years ago… and hopefully take part in them.
Or you can send money… seriously, anything that folds.