Monday, March 20, 2006

Fathers and sons

Regarding my half-brother mentioned in the last posting:

It’s not that I’ve never seen him. I have. Just twice. But we’ve never been introduced. In my late teens I dropped in at my biological grandparents’ house and he was there. He was a small child and he was sleeping, curled up on the family room floor for the duration of my brief visit. He was also present at our grandfather’s funeral. He’s now the age of majority, finished post-secondary school and living in British Columbia. While I’d always been previously hopeful, I’ve now resolved that we shall probably never meet. He almost certainly doesn’t know that I exist.

I never saw my father from the age of 3-or-4 until I was 17. I came looking for him. He’s always been very kind to me since then and complimentary and apologetic - none of which I crave. I just want him to be himself. He introduces me to his friends and associates with pride. Sometimes they ask if he has other children. He says, “No. This is my only son.”

I objected to that once and he said, “No! You’re my only son.”

That has always bothered me. For twenty years now I’ve assumed that he recognizes me as his son because I showed up and got in his face and that if I hadn’t, I’d be no more significant to him than Wade, his other offspring, my half-brother. I’ve assumed he always told people that he had no children until I stepped into the way.

It’s been a source of hidden bitterness, indignance and mistrust for 20 years. Not just stemming from my own self-worth but also - in fact more so - from my sympathy for this brother. What did he do to warrant his existence be denied?

But recently a third party - my cousin - shed some light on the relationship that produced Wade. Apparently my father was extremely clear that he in no way would agree to having children. It was out of the question. He adamantly refused to be a father - perhaps out of guilt for having ‘failed’ me - something I have no regret or sorrow about, by the way. I had never missed him. I no-doubt had a better childhood without him.

My cousin told me that Wade’s mother tricked my father into getting her pregnant and that is why he walked away. And that is why he denies the existance of another son.

I wish he’d told me this himself 20 years ago. It certainly puts a different perspective on things. It somewhat validates his denial of Wade and eases my frustration over it.

An unsettling thing happened at my grandfather’s funeral. My father and I wandered away from the crowd and found, within the funeral home, a little room with a door at either end. We stood there alone in the room, just he and I, talking. We stood face to face in the centre of the room.

While we were talking a door opened and a small kid walked in. It was Wade. There was no doubt. I’d seen many pictures of him. My father didn’t stop talking. I watched Wade the whole time as he strolled into the room, walked right in between my father and I, inches from each of us, and walked out the other door. He had shared a room, very briefly, with his father and his brother and he never knew it.

I was rattled. And I couldn’t believe that my father was still talking like nothing had happened. Only now, after my cousin’s explanation does it occur to me that my father may not even have known that it was Wade.

How often, I wonder, do a father and son pass inches from each other without even knowing it?



Dave said...

Wow, man. That's sad and very thought-provoking. I really feel for Wade. That's got to be tough being denied by your own father. It's not as if it's his fault.

I would be so inclined to contact him. Worst case scenario, he'd tell you to piss off and not contact him again. Best case, you'd form a bond with someone you share some DNA with. Might come in handy if you ever need a kidney or something. ;o)
Or at least you'd have a place to stay when in B.C.!

Suki said...

Ouch. Not nice. If the questions are still there, I reckon it's best you contact him and let him know you're there for him if needed. It will definitely be pretty unsettling, but that's better than finding out he has a half-brother who doesn't care a hang about him.
Sad times, when fathers want to deny the existence of their own children.