Let me give you some background first.
My parents divorced around 1967, when I was only 6 years old. I don't remember many details of life when they were still together, and the ones I do remember weren't very pleasant.
I wasn't very close to my father after about the age of 8 or 9. I guess that's when young girls start having friends and sleepovers, and going back and forth to my father's house every other weekend wasn't my idea of fun. He once resorted to bribery to get me to come live with him full-time. He told me he would buy me a pony if I would come live with him. I was only 8 years old, so I agreed. He didn't want me to live with him; he just wanted to stick it to my mother. She wisely allowed me to go stay with him for the summer, confident that I would want to come back home before school started. She was right.
My father remarried in 1976, when I was 15. We didn't see each other much, and I was of course all about ME at that age (I finally grew out of it sometime last year). My step-mother's name was Doris, and when I DID see them, she was always very kind and welcoming to me.
Doris had never been married before she married my father at the age of 39. My sisters and I asked each other repeatedly through the years why she would wait that long and then marry HIM. She was much too nice a person to be with our father. He never seemed to appreciate her goodness, although she was apparently important enough to him that he stayed sober as long as she lived. When she died in 1998, my father immediately returned to the bottle.
Back to the phone call.
The man on the other end of the phone said he was the baby that Doris gave up for adoption in 1964. She would have been 27 years old at the time, much older than most single moms these days, but of course it would have been scandalous in those days for a single woman to have a baby. (I wish it were scandalous these days instead of being a rite of passage for some.) He and I don't necessarily have any connection, except for the fact that if Doris had raised him, he would have been my step-brother.
The man had apparently talked to Doris before her death, and they had made arrangements to meet. She had to cancel one time, though, and he had to cancel another time, and I suppose life intervened. When he thought to look her up again, he learned she had died in 1998.
He wanted to know what kind of person Doris was, and he wondered if anyone had pictures. I was ashamed to say I didn't know a lot of details about Doris, but I could assure him Doris was much too good a person to have been with my father. I only had a couple of pictures, one taken at Frogger Blogger's house sometime in 1997 (I think) and one from my wedding to Sweet Girl's father in 1982. He also wanted to know how Doris died, and unfortunately it was from lung cancer. She had quit smoking for 3 years when doctors found the first spot on her lung, and she wound up having part of her lung removed. She did okay for several years, except for being easily winded, which didn't in any way impact my father's habit of walking too fast for her to keep up, but then the cancer returned with a vengeance.
I have so many questions, but of course there is no one to ask. My father has one surviving sibling, my aunt Joyce, but she was as floored as I was, so I'm sure she doesn't know any details. My father knew of the child's existence, and according to his NEXT wife (grrrrrrrr), he "never forgave Doris." Yep, that sounds just like him, holding something over her head that happened before they ever met. My father died in 2002, so i can't ask him either.
That must have been a terribly difficult decision for Doris to make, and yet she was one of the kindest, gentlest, most loving people I've ever known. I guess it gets said a lot after someone is gone, but I wish I had appreciated Doris more while she was still alive.
|Doris and my father, sometime around 1997. I have no idea why Doris's eyes are closed.|
|Doris and my father (far left), my mother, me and my first husband, his parents. Yes, I'm that short (5'2"), but he's also that tall (6'10"). You can probably tell where he got his height.|