I don't speak much about my own father. I haven't seen him in 20 years, haven't spoken to him in almost 13. I pretty much consider myself an orphan. My mom is passed..and my father...just out there..somewhere.
He wasn't the greatest. He had issues, of which I will probably never completely understand. My parents marrige was like oil and water...very odd dynamics with me, an only child, somewhere in the middle as a barameter and pawn. He was a NYC cop..handsome and dashing when young in his uniform, odd and bizarre when he got older. His nickname on the force was "Crash" for some reason. I have childhood memories of going to present Christmas parties, dirty basements of NYC police buildings, diverse groups of kids and loud drunken shouts, waiting for a dressed up Santa to give out the treats, being asked "Oh, you're Crash's daughter?" Yes...I am the Lame.
When I was growing up, he was estranged from his own family..so much that I didn't even met my paternal grandmother until I was 7 when she came for my first communion and brought my cousin Christine for me to meet too. What his problem was with his mother ( his own father died when I was a baby of a brain tumor) and his two younger sisiters? I don't know, but the fact is that I missed knowing a huge portion of my family growing up.
I think that often, my own experiences with my dad allow me to understand some of the complex feelings that adoptees must deal with. Rejection from one own flesh and blood. My father basically divorced me too when he and my mother split. Periodically, throughout the years, I have held out an olive branch, hoping that he could be honest, admite his part in wrong doings, and see me as a person worthy of bothering with. It never works. In the last two years, he called here, at my home once. Thank goodness I was at work and Rye talked to him. He did leave his number, but I cannot call him...I have the need to protect myself emotionally...and my children too. Rye had given him my email addy and I would have written to him to feel out the waters, but he never bothered to write me. The urge to have a child, remember his daughter, was apparently fleeting.
The other fallout of his issues, again, is that I have this huge part of family that I know almost nothing of. We, the family, have a most beautiful piece of land up here that has been in the family for generations. I was there as a baby, and then we returned when I was 11. The farm, as it is called, was owned at that time by my grandmother and her two sisters, my great aunts. They would winter in Florida and Arizona, and summer at the farm. Friends would come from all over..staying in the big house ( an original Dutch stone house form the 1600's) or at the bungelows. My father's younger sister, my Aunt Martha, would spend the summers there with my 4 cousins.
Now, I grew up close to my mother's family. My house, my grandparents and my uncles house were in a 5 block radius to each other. Sunday's were spent over my grandmother's eating pasta and Pinola cookies from the Italian bakery. I always say I was raised Italian. Yet, I was different from the good "shush, don't make a fuss..don't yell...it's OK" let's pretend that nothing is wrong mode of operation, I always DID call a spade a spade and was loud with a mouth even then.
It was when I was 11, my mother secretly pregnant with my baby brother, when we returned to the farm and I saw where my blood and my mouth began. I was shocked and amazed by my two female cousins. Christine, a few years older, and Nancy a bit younger....were cut from the same cloth. Nancy and I, at that age, were almost twins in looks. A pivotal point was when we compared our very dark and thick copious arm hair. Knowing that I was not a lone gorilla freak was special.
Still though, relations were strained, just based on the freakness of my dad, the lack of love between him and his sisters, and then the eventual divorce of my parents. My mom still kept in touch with my grandmother and we would still visit, but I never did get to summer with everyone.
Still, something about the area where the farm is was "home" or maybe I just wanted to be part of something that I am not. As a adult I moved up here to this area, and have made it my home for the last 17 ( eek!) years. Now, with my mother and grandmother gone, my one old aunt in a nursing hime and the other barely remembering who I am...I am the adult and still I find it hard to "get there"....it is hard to become part of a family when they are still strangers who share my blood. See..adoptee parallels!
Yet, when I DO visit or run into my Aunt Martha..OMG..I am again stuck at how I fit in. They are loud, brash, they curse, drink and smoke. They call Bullshit when they see bullshit. And despite it all..they are family and keep saying.."Come on over!"..now here is where the "polite" me and the wanting me collide. I wait for phone calls. I wait to be officially invited. I say Yes..I would like to partake..and then wait. Where they say..come on up..and man it..and that is the invite for them. Fear yeah...Why? IDK. Yes I know that basing things on fear is a sucky way of dealing, but that little voice does say "what if they really don;t want you too...it is too late..you are not part of them...you missed out..they have memories that you do not...what of they just don't like you?"..yeah, I know..it is bullshit.
Anyway..so this Christmas my cousin Christine sent me a Xmas card and in it was a picture of her kids. OMG..I was floored..first off to see two more "Garin/Max" faces looking at me..and to see her daughter Katherine..with Scarlett's EXACT hair...color and style..on her head! WOW.
So that was it. MY insecurity non withstanding..I am not being the doinker who does this to my kids. It stops now. I sent her a card back with a picture and said YES, they must know each other and PLEASE call me when you guys come up.
She called me Christmas eve..and I was late for work for talking to her. Note to self..another similarity..OMG we talk so fast and so much!! I found out that Tristan's dimples are a Corrigan thing. Her oldest has them too and so did my own father!
So resolved..this summer..Christine and Nancy and their kids spend every weekend at the farm. About 20 minutes away from me. I SHALL BE taking my kids there..every Sunday..to hang out with their cousins and family.
My family. My blood. My cousins. My Corrigans.