Dear Father I Never Knew I Had



I don’t really know how to address you, since we never actually knew each other in life, although I am quite sure you knew I existed.

It was a small world back then.

Just to fill you in on a little of what you missed, let me start by saying I had a pretty good childhood. As you know, I grew up in Savannah and after my Dad sold the house I was conceived in, we eventually moved back to Savannah and lived with my grandmother. You remember her, I’m sure. I read in my Dad’s diary recently that she invited you and your family there for dinner on at least one occassion. She made a great lemon meringue pie. I hope you got a piece.

I played little-league baseball and once bunted my way onto first. I was a fast runner. When my Dad came home unexpectedly one night and found you in bed with my mother, did you run?

I played football, too, when I was about nine and we had a dog named Muffet. She was half Pekinese and half Chow and had a curly tail. Did you like dogs?

Ours got run over when I was in school one day and by the time I got home my Dad had buried it under an old Magnolia tree next to the house. The bloodstains on the street out front were there for weeks, though. I can’t help but wonder how you would have handled that situation.

I liked to draw pictures and was known in school as the kid who could draw. Were you good in art?  I know you liked to write, I’ve read some of the history of your family which you wrote. Just curious. Am I mentioned in there? If I read between the lines, might I discover even the slightest hint of my existence?

Did you ever once dream about me?

After graduation from high school, I went to the local college and flunked out in short order. I was terrible in Math. Did I inherit that from you? It’s probably a good thing that you didn’t know about that, otherwise you might have been embarrassed. I know I was.

Anyway, as a result, I got drafted into the army during the Vietnam War when I was just nineteen, but they didn’t send me over there to fight, thank God. I’m really not a fighter. Unless I have to, in which case I’ll rip the person’s throat out.  I’m glad you didn’t have to concern yourself with that, I know my mother worried about me enough for everyone– and anyway, after three years and a couple of close calls, I got out of the army and went back to college on the G.I. Bill and studied art.

If I had known about you when I was young, it would have no doubt have caused a lot of problems, maybe even messed me up psychologically, so thanks for keeping a low profile and keeping your distance.

Recently, I looked at some pictures of you and your family in the old days. You all seemed pretty happy.

I have to ask you something.

Were you the guy who was rude to my father in the office building that day when I was about 13? My father went to see you about something and took me in with him. I remember you didn’t want anything to do with us. So it couldn’t have been work-related. It had to have been something personal. And that’s just the kind of thing my Dad would have done, too. That picture I saw of you online from that time period sure looks like that guy. If it was you, I’m glad that at least you saw me that once. People should get to at least see their children, even if they don’t want to have anything to do with them. It’s okay that you acted that way. Believe me, I’ve been in some awkward situations in my life, so I can totally relate.

I hope I’m not boring you.

After college, I moved to New York City to attend graduate school and be an artist. I had some pretty interesting experiences there. I worked as an artist’s lithographer and assembled designer furniture in an old building underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. I even drove a taxicab for a year or two. Did you ever go to New York City in the 70’s and ride in a cab? Wouldn’t it have been a strange if I had picked you up? That would have been a Hoot!

I know you liked art, because I saw a photo of you examining some photographs from an exhibit you were in. I liked taking photographs too, and won several photo contests run by a New York newspaper. I’ll bet you would have been proud of me. I even had my own art museum, too, where my three-dimensional art was viewable to the public for 12 years. Over the years, thousands of people must have seen it. I wonder if, by chance, you were one of them. Stranger things have happened. I’m sure you would have to agree with me on that account!

To make money, I worked in the comic book business for about twenty years. Did you read the comic strips when you were a kid? I know in the 1920’s when you were a boy, there were some great comic strips in the newspaper. I’m sure you read them. Everybody read comics in those days. Did you like Krazy Kat? You seem like the kind of guy who would have liked Krazy Kat.

You were a little crazy, too, from what I have gathered.

I’ve been married twice, if you must know.

My first wife died not too long ago. We weren’t a very good match.

If I may say so, you and your wife must not have been a very good match either, or I wouldn’t be here–so we have that in common.

Sometimes in life, if you’re lucky, you get a second chance. I guess I’m lucky because I’ve been married to the same woman now for almost 23 years and we have two fine boys. You would have liked them. But I know you had a bunch of grandchildren and I’m sure you enjoyed them. I told my sons about you already, and I hope this doesn’t sound rude, but they weren’t all that interested. You know how kids are.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll probably write again after I’ve had a little more time to sort all this out.

Oh–!  Before I go, I do want to say that I am really enjoying having your two nieces as first cousins. And my uncle, Gene, whom I unfortunately never met, seemed like a great guy, too. Did you ever tell him about me? Sure you did. He was your brother. Brothers confide in one another. I wish I could have known mine. Joe looks like such a great guy in the pictures.

Oh well, I guess I can’t complain too much. I’m here, after all, and that’s what counts. Wouldn’t you agree?

And for that, at least in part, I have you to thank.

And so, for what it’s worth—Happy Father’s Day!










Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s