Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nonaction

A few days ago I posted an update about my father (see posts 1 and 2), but deleted it a few hours later.  It was about how I wrote a letter to my dad, as promised, after I moved here, and asked him for my long-lost brother's address.  And how Dad said no, giving the reason that he "needs to see how long I'll be around" first.

I thought that was a load of bullshit, so I hunted my brother (let's call him Edward) down on the Internet instead.  I wrote a letter to him letting him know that I'm his sister, and I immediately got a very positive response from him and his wife and daughter.  This was truly happy and exciting news, because I had no idea what kind of response I'd get, if any.  I talked at length with Edward over this past weekend, and it was so great!  Great to finally hear his voice, great to talk to him and find out what he's all about.  I look forward to getting to know him better and to one day visiting him. 

So on this blog entry that I deleted, I had posted the text of a letter I'd written to Dad letting him know that I thought his reasons for withholding Edward's address were ridiculous, and that I had already contacted Edward.  I sealed up the letter, addressed it, and put a stamp on it.

But I was too overwhelmed with sadness to mail it.  The words in it felt useless and negative and heavy.  So the letter sits on top of my shredder now, awaiting a violent end.

Recall that our father murdered Edward's mother in a most grisly and sensational fashion in 1963, then served only 10 years in prison.  I learned about this event just a few months ago.  That's right--I had spent the first 29 years of my life not having the slightest clue that my dad is an ex-con.

After I learned about this series of events from my mother and from archived newspapers, and after the initial shock wore off a little, I decided I wanted to forgive my dad and still speak to him, because a) it happened a long time ago; b) he has stayed out of serious trouble with the law since then; c) when he and I first began communicating again this summer, he genuinely (or rather, finally) seemed to care that he had a daughter; and d) I wanted to hear things from his point of view.  How do murderers think, anyway?  I wanted to hear what Dad had to say for himself.

This was an okay agreement for about two months.  Since I moved to Phoenix, Dad has sent me three care packages full of cartoons, jokes, notes, copies of genealogical documents, a magazine, and even an antique picture frame.  Granted, his jokes and letters are still peppered with his conceited, hypercritical sense of humor, but the effort is there.  Right? 

I tried to brush aside the fact that NO ONE--not the newspapers, not the old-timers in my hometown, not my mom, not my numerous siblings on her side--has anything nice to say about my dad.  Everybody I have ever talked to loathes him.  They consistently describe him as a cruel, selfish, abusive, irresponsible, deranged sociopath.  Kind of like Ed Gein, but more cunning, clever, and manipulative.  But I wondered if maybe people were still judging Dad solely on the murder and nothing else.  Maybe he's been trying to redeem himself all these years and turn a new leaf--you know, piece his life back together and become a respectable person and such? 

Then I talked to Edward this past weekend, who has done very well for himself despite the nightmare that was his childhood.  And from him (and his wife) I learned that the murder was just one of the many manifestations of Dad's deleterious character.  Some of these manifestations are more recent, and some are truly horrific.  I'd like to lighten the burden on my mind by airing them out here, but which I will instead keep to myself out of respect for Edward.  No human being, especially a child, should ever encounter the concentrated evil he repeatedly did.  My throat is swelling and I'm frantically wiping my eyes now just trying to write a sentence about it.  I am blown away both by our father's ability to destroy other people's lives and by my brother's strength and resilience.   

So I don't know if I should send that letter to Dad, or write a new one explaining that I no longer wish to speak to him, or write a new one and keep to my word about wanting to get to know him and hear what he has to say for himself.  How can I possibly speak to this man?  I am so disgusted with what he's done and how he has treated people over the course of his lifetime.  On the other hand, he's never been cruel to me specifically (just a rude and neglectful absentee father), and some people would argue, "Well, he's still your father!"  Whatever that means.  Why should mere sperm donation be so celebrated? 

I don't know what to do or what to say to him now, so, for the moment, I'm not going to do or say anything.  He complains that people just drift in and out of his life, and acts as if it's just a problem of contemporary society and poorly-mannered "kids these days." 

Gee, Dad, maybe your being a psychopath has something to do with it?