Sunday, June 17, 2018

An Open Letter To My Father by Betsy Ashton

Let me start by saying I never celebrated Father's Day. I never bought a card, picked out a terrible tie or a pair of socks, or visited the man who was my father. Why? Because I never knew him.

My father was married to my mother for about two years, during which time I was sired and born. And while my mother was carrying me, he had another girlfriend who became pregnant about the time I was born. Needless to say, my parents separated before I was nine months old, before my half-sister arrived. You left my mother to raise me by herself with no child support, although the courts ordered it. She did a damned fine job.

My father contacted me twice, once for half a day when I was 13, again for half a day when I was 17. A card or two followed the visits, plus a weird invitation to come and live with him, his wife, and my half-sister. Why would I leave my mother, who had been my sole caregiver, for a man I didn't know? NOT!

My mother was annoyed at first when I started referring to the old man as my sperm donor. To me, that was what he was. Nothing more. I knew later how much that phrase demeaned their relationship. I'm forever sorry about it.

So, now that both my dear mother and the sperm donor are gone, I have some words for SD.

I hope you were a better father to your second daughter than you were to your first.

I hope you taught her how to play catch, played hide and seek, and did all the great dad things, like eating ice cream in a snow storm.

I hope you taught her a sense of right and wrong, gave her a strong ethical foundation, and were there for her when she needed you.

I'm sorry you were estranged from your own parents. I wasn't, because my mother kept in touch with your mother and father until I was old enough to write. I know she did. Grandfather sent me a box of her letters, cards, and photos of me. She kept me alive in their thoughts until both passed.

I'm sorry you never got to see how I turned out, but then, you would have had to keep in touch. Once Grandfather died, there was no touchstone with your side of the family until a couple of years ago when your brother's older daughter reached out. We've established a long-distance relationship, one I once wished I'd had with you.

For this Father's Day, I don't send good wishes. I don't send bad wishes. I send the same type of wishes you sent me all these years. None.

P.S. Thanks, Mom, for being the best father a girl could have. Happy Father's Day.

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Betsy Ashton is the author of the Mad Max Mystery series, Unintended Consequences, Uncharted Territory, and Unsafe Haven. She is also the author of the stand-alone psychological suspense novel, Eyes Without A Face.

8 comments:

Margo Hoornstra said...

Oh, Betsy. That was simply beautiful. I'm awe struck. It's all I can say.

Alicia Dean said...

Betsy, what a sad, yet heartwarming post. Your SD was definitely the loser in not knowing you. What a wonderful tribute to your mother. She sounds like a very special person.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Thanks for sharing an aspect of your life that makes you and your mother rugged individuals...in a day when women on their own struggled mightily. I'm always amazed to hear about people whose paternal or maternal instincts are missing...who go ahead and have kids anyway. Your mom must have been magnificent to do the work of two parents. Lucky, you are!

Brenda Whiteside said...

I'm in tears. Love your mom right along with you, Betsy. I'm with Rolynn in wondering how anyone can not be part of a child's life. But we have a couple of those in our family too.

Jannine Gallant said...

What a wonderful tribute to your incredible mother, Betsy! And it's nice that your cousin reached out to you. I love that your mother cared more about you than being bitter toward your SD's family, allowing you to have a relationship with them. I'm curious if you've ever met your half-sister--or heard how she turned out? Wonderful post!

Alison Henderson said...

Your mom was clearly an amazing woman, and you inherited her strength. As for your father, you gave him exactly what he deserved.

Leah St. James said...

Betsy, my story is so very similar, I had to read quickly before I started crying. My parents were together a few years longer (I am the younger of their two daughters together), but my memories are dim and sporadic. Kudos to your mom for so many things, among them, making sure you knew your father's family. My biggest heartbreak (from their broken marriage) that is that I never got to know my paternal grandmother who lived well into her 90s. All those years I assumed she had passed, and I kick myself now, wishing I'd thought to look for her. On a happier note, after our father died, my sister and I connected with a half sister I hadn't "seen" since she was an infant. We haven't gotten together in person yet, but your post reminds me to not wait until it's too late.

RE Mullins said...

As a teen, my older son once told me on Father's Day that he considered me both his mom and dad. It's was a sad and yet lovely sentiment.