Today, I am going to write one more post about my father (for now). I will note that I have always felt overly protective of my father, and that has made an impact on who I am and how I interact with others in my life, especially men. Even now, as I write about my father in these posts, I am concerned that something I say might make it to his ears somehow and that will hurt him. I sincerely hope that will not be the case, as I love him very much. But sharing these stories is important for me to fully make sense of them as well as make sense of myself.
I remember the time, when I was 23 years old, right before my 24th birthday, about a month before I was about to get married, that my father flew across the country (from the Los Angeles area to Boston) because he had “something that he needed to tell me.” I knew that something was up. My father HATED traveling, hated flying, and he sure as hell had never flown across the country by himself before, just to spend time with me. I mean, I knew he loved me more than anything. But he wouldn’t fly across the country just to spend time with me. That was not his way. But my mother called me in advance to let me know to expect him and that I should just listen to him. Hmmm…what the hell does that mean?
I still remember sitting on the couch next to him, in my apartment at 100 Memorial Drive in Cambridge. I can see it in my mind. And he told me how, when he and my mother got married, they had not planned to have any children. (I haven’t mentioned this yet, but my mother was actually my father’s third wife. He had married young and had 4 children, whom he eventually lost touch with.) Because my father was done having children, he had gotten a vasectomy. But then, a number of years later, my mother realized that she did want children after all. And at the time, in the 1970’s, vasectomies were not reversible. And so they used a sperm donor.
My father was telling me that he was not my biological father.
I’m not sure how other people would feel or respond if their father told them that, when they were 23 years old. I have no fucking clue. All I know is that my only thought, my overwhelming thought reverberating in my head, in my heart, was that I needed to reassure my father that this revelation meant NOTHING to me, that he was my one and only father, and that he did not need to worry in the slightest about me and my feelings. I cared only for him, and I wanted to protect him at all costs and make sure that he knew I loved him.
Would I have responded that way, if I had not already felt so overprotective of him? I don’t know. But in that moment, I made sure to quickly suppress any hurt or pain or fear or confusion on my own part in my attempt to take care of my father. After all, this was a man whose mother had put him in an oven and had killed his sister. So my only awareness was to take care of this man that I loved so much. My pain and confusion did not matter.