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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

My Dad and My Father

I've been thinking a lot about Father's Day. Yeah, I know it's over, but I'm still thinking about it.

A month ago, Averie came to me with a huge smile on her face and told me she'd found something on Ebay that she thought Charlie would love. He collects antique and vintage cameras. It's not a collection that he started himself. It was started with a gift from a friend. Then people started giving him more cameras. Now he has an impressive showcase shelf full. Some of these gifted cameras are old movie cameras. Averie found an early 70's 8mm camera and started bidding for it. She ended up winning the bid and could not wait for Father's Day to come so that she could give her daddy his present.

I remember the excitement of finding, or making, the perfect gift for Father's Day. I made and bought some pretty weird things. An ashtray out of bottle caps. A paperweight with my picture in it. A ceramic Yoda. Dad loved Star Wars. Dad loved my funky gifts. At least he said so and I never thought otherwise. I adored my father. He was a big kid and since I grew up basically as an only child, and my dad was only 20 when I was born, he and I "grew up" together. He was a hands-on kinda dad. He'd play tag, hide and seek, and would even sit on the floor and play jacks with me if I asked. We didn't have a whole lot of time together, because he was in the Navy and always away on cruises. But the time we did have, I cherish.

When my mother passed away in 1992, I lost my father too. He fell apart. I don't know how else to describe it. He was no longer himself. He forgot how to live. He made foolish decisions. He forgot about me. Within a year of my mother's passing, he remarried. Though my step-mom is a nice lady, I knew from the beginning that it was a relationship of convenience. She was trying to get her green card, and my dad didn't want to be alone. As soon as she got that ring on her finger, she instantly started bringing her entire family over from the Philippines. My dad had a new family and forgot about us. He moved out of the state. He never called. He never wrote. I did all the calling and writing. I still do. I still try to reach out. Hoping that he'll remember that he's my dad. Even when his wife left him once she got her whole family over here, he didn't call. Even when he almost died from kidney failure. If I don't call, I won't know what's going on. So I keep calling. I keep trying.

I guess, now that I look back on it, this was probably the catalyst for putting my search for my birth parents in motion. I didn't want to hurt my parents by going and looking for my biological family. But now that my mom is gone, and now that my dad is basically non-existent in my life, I figured no one was going to care if I started my search. No one, that is, except me.

On Sunday morning, after the kids came into our room to give Charlie his Father's Day gifts and hugs, I called my dad. He didn't answer and so I left him a message. I told him how much I love him and how much I missed him and that I hoped he would call back. And then I called my birth father in Hawaii. Also, no answer.

I thought to myself how funny it was that I have two fathers, but I really don't know either one.


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