It was in a conversation with one of few people who may be able to help me find answers, that I realized I do not know my father. And through that revelation that I came to understand how little my mother must know about him.
“Was he born in Boston?” he asked.
“No. Honduras. Or Belize? The verdict is still out.”
“But not Boston? You’re 100% sure about that?”
We both paused for an awkward silence; I imagine he was as still as me, quietly holding the receiver to his ear. I sat still, a moment longer, hoping he could not hear my heart fall into the soles of my feet. I wasn’t sure.
Full disclosure, I am unsure about most things pertaining to the man whose grave I have been trying to find for the past five years. My father.
My only certainty is that my father supported us financially, provided for us, and spent a great deal of time with us as a family.
In my eyes, he was what everyone around me led me to believe he was – a “good father”. Maybe in the 80s all you had to do was show up – kind of like my college Spanish class where 70% of the grade was participation. In comparison to many of the fathers who didn’t acknowledge their children or support them, he was indeed a great father. Having had friends with fathers they did not know, fathers who were in jail or another country, fathers who were a running joke…
“There goes my father” she’d say as she pointed out a random commuter.
“For real?” one of us gullible friends would ask.
“Could be” she’d huff and we’d laugh collectively.
Mine was a real and tangible person; a pager number I could dial and get an immediate response, a Santa, a Tooth Fairy, and Easter Bunny all rolled into one. He took me to petting zoos, taught me how to play dominoes, and did the dad things that were required of him.
Imagine my surprise when, through that conversation, I realized I don’t know my father any better than the child of an absentee father knows theirs. Where was he born? Who were his parents? What was his relationship with the wife he remained married to while courting my mother? Who are my siblings? Where do they live? Heck, I still don’t know.
I am 100% sure it is time to find out.