Elise likes to post poems from time to time, so I thought I would post one that I wrote a long time ago. However, I should explain the background to it.
As some of you know who may have read some of my personal stories on here, my father abandoned my family, for the last time, when I was 11 years old, a few months before I was to graduate from grade school, in 1965. It was probably a good thing, as he was abusive, a gambler, and an alcoholic.
After he left, I saw him a few weeks later outside my school. He promised to come to my graduation but, of course, he did not. We did not see him, or hear from him again, not a card, letter or phone call, until I was 19. In fact, we thought he was dead. Then, all of a sudden, he popped up out of the blue and told us he had been living in Arizona for the past few years.
He came to visit us. When he left, he took two of my younger brothers with him, as they were a handful at the time. They lived with him and his girlfriend for about 6 months in Douglas, Arizona. Then, he sent them back and disappeared off the face of the earth again.
In 1985, after I graduated from law school, I decided to become a VISTA Volunteer. VISTA was like the Peace Corp, only you stay in the United States. I worked temp jobs in accounting while waiting to see where I would be assigned. In the meantime, I decided I wanted to find where my father was. I called my paternal grandfather, who I rarely had any contact with, and asked if he had heard from him. He and his wife said they had heard rumors that he was in a V.A. hospital somewhere. That was all I needed.
I wrote to the V.A.'s headquarters telling them that I was looking for my father. I gave them his full name, date of birth, and social security number. I told them he was missing, but that I had reason to believe he may be in a V.A. hospital. It took several months, but eventually, I received a letter from them letting me know that they received my letter, and it had been forwarded to my father. It also said they could not tell me where he was, that it was up to him to contact me.
I did get a letter from him. He was at the V.A. facility in White City, Oregon. As it turns out, I had wanted to be assigned somewhere in Oregon or Washington State. I eventually got assigned to a community service organization in Everett, Washington, so this was going to turn out perfect. I planned to stop and see him on my drive up to Everett. Unfortunately, he had a massive heart attack and was transferred to the Portland V.A. hospital a week before I left, so I was only able to spend a short amount of time with him when I drove up to Everett.
He was transferred back to White City after a few months, and we did stay in touch. Letters, cards, and a phone call once a year or so. I was very conflicted about the whole thing. Even though this was my father, the man was a stranger to me, plus, I had a lot of anger about my childhood and what had happened. Eventually, I decided to make a trip to White City and confront him about what had happened. I wrote him that I was coming to see him and drove down.
At the time, he was staying on the ward with all the section 8 people, as well as the drug addicts and alcoholics (of course). There was not a lot of development in the area back then, other then a bar that served food right down the road from the facility. He asked me to take him there to talk. We sat there for several hours and he drank one beer after another as I vented about what a terrible father he had been. I will say, he did sit there and listen. He did not make any excuses for what he had done. No, the excuses came years later when my youngest sister, who could not recall anything that happened, visited him. She was the one he lied and made excuses to. But, that is another tale.
Finally, when I was done, I took him back. He showed me around a bit and I said good-bye. I drove home. It took me several weeks to process the visit. I realized that my inner child had been searching a long time for the daddy I would never have, and that with the visit, I was finally able to let her go. I also realized that I needed to start to heal. My father was, after all, with all his faults, just a man. I did start the process of forgiveness after that visit, although it took many, many years for me to get all the way there.
At any rate, after a few weeks, I sat down and wrote this poem, which I called Goodbye to Daddy
I watched you walk away that day
so many years ago.
If I would ever see you again,
I really didn't know.
My desperate heart was broken,
I cried and cried for weeks,
I was just eleven-but wise-
I knew that life stinks.
So live went on
I accepted my fate.
And after awhile
my love turned to hate.
Days became years, and I grew older,
most memories of you forgotten.
I was 16, but oh so wise,
I knew all men were rotten.
Yet something in me crave the love
I couldn't get from you.
I wanted a Dad-but didn't want one,
knowing what I knew.
Well, I'm older now
but not so wise
I see the world
through different eyes.
You are in my life again,
Which isn't easy,
I won't pretend.
Your memories of me
are of a child
But I'm all grown up
I'm a woman now.
And I can see you as
you really are,
No more, no less.
So the search for my perfect Daddy is done.
And I let out a sigh.
As my little girl says,
"I love you, Daddy,"
As my little girl says,