Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I recently came into contact with my first husband's daughter, a lovely woman with a child of her own. She is my son's sister so I'm happy to get to know her. In our chatting, I offered to write a few things about her father to her. This is the first email I sent, I'll be adding the next one today after I finish writing it. Anyway, here is a bit about my first husband, the one who died awhile back:
First let me say that if you were NOT an adult, I would not be telling you any of this. Not that there's anything TOO crazy but simply out of respect for your mother and anyone else who may have helped raise you. They are your family and you owe them respect for being there for you. I was lucky in that I met a man who was more than happy to raise William as his own and there was a wonderful family who came with that man, to this day, they treat William the same as they treat my kids that are their blood relations. I hope you had something similar. Also, I'm not going to rag on your father, I may tell you funny stories about him where he ends up looking stupid but it is what it is and I only tell you so that you might have something in your mind as you try to picture your dad which is a natural thing for you to do. This past Father's Day, I actually seriously considered writing this to you so that you might have someone to imagine on Father's Days. But, I decided it was too much at the time. I'm happy to do it now.
Now let me say this, it is not hard to believe your mother and older siblings. I didn't stick around long enough for abuse and dishonesty to become a habit, but the potential was there. As I said, he wasn't all bad, few people are. Had I not been aware of your mom, I could have chalked it all up to immaturity, we were 18 and 19 when we got married and 19 and 20 when we became parents. I was born in June of '58 and he was born in March of '57 if memory serves.
Now, a few things you may or may not know. Your Grandmother Jeanine (John's mom) is a wonderful person. I made her a grandmother at age 34 since she had John when she was 16. She had him with John Joseph Cardis Jr. Your dad was the third. She has 3 other kids with her second husband, your Aunt Lisa, Uncle Danny and Uncle Matt. They are great people and although they were very young when I lived there, they acted like normal people who loved their nephew, William. They would have adored you if they had been given a chance. Remember, John deserted them too so they have their own issues wondering what they did which is so sad because they ARE good people and it was all John, not them, who caused the rift that cost a family their son, brother, father and friend. He deserted everybody who ever cared about him, not just his kids.
John's father left when John was very little and he only saw him once after that, when your Dad was 12. Then, being a sweet and naive little wife, in 1978 I found John's father living in Palo Alto with his wife Maxine (She was cool.) and their baby, your Aunt Lauren. William was about 3 months old and Lauren was 14 months old at the time. They ran a coffee shop back in the days before people wanted to spend 5 bucks on a cuppa. Your father suffered greatly from his father's absence so it truly surprised me that he was so fast to walk away from his own kids. But I can tell you, he felt pain over the "loss" of his own father. He had no fathering skills for you because no one had any for him.
I met John at a bowling alley in Petaluma Ca. which is where he grew up and went to high school. When I met him, he had just gotten out of the Marines. He said that he got out for "beating up a drill sergeant". At some point I learned that he had gotten out on a section eight. He must have had an honorable discharge of some sort because he went to school on the VA bill and worked when we were married. He wanted to be a cop. Odd, he hated authority yet he wanted to BE the authority. (Ask me someday and I'll tell you how a young girl from the suburbs of Chicago found herself in the town where they filmed American Graffiti.) I was at the Petaluma Bowling Alley. I was there with my cousin John and his wife, Annie. Annie's brother Roland was there with his date and that chick knew your dad from high school. Unbeknownst to me, your dad had asked Roland's date for an introduction to me. She was one of those chicks who actually competes for the attention of ALL the men in her realm so she declined his request. Until, that is, Roland started talking to the only other person there...me. That, and that alone, forced her hand. She went down the alley and brought your father back with him. We were pretty inseparable then for the next 10 days. We met on a Saturday night and ten days later, on a Monday, we were making out, all hot and heavy. He really, really wanted to have sex but Nature pretty much gave US the key to the gate and you shouldn't give out too many of those so I said "Nope...not until I'm married."
He responded, "Well, Reno's only 4 hours away." We hit the road and never looked back. Well, actually when we got to Sacramento we had to turn around and DRIVE back because I had forgotten my birth certificate. Like an idiot, I didn't recognize the warning sign. C'est la vie. Eight hours after we started out, we arrived at the scene of our Reno wedding, I think the place was called The Little White Chapel. As it turned out, it's a good thing I did it that way because I'm pretty sure that I conceived William on my wedding night...in the back of your father's fire engine red station wagon. He was so proud of his big red car that it was almost humorous. I'm sort of NOT STUPID and I have a wicked sense of humor so I would end up laughing and laughing and laughing. Today he wouldn't appeal to me, too short, but back then I didn't appreciate height. But he was a pretty short boy, I shit you not.
I can tell you all sorts of stories and I will. I just spent my morning writing this and I enjoyed it. I look forward to sending you more. Also, I did write about your dad on the blog so I might could find you some links to stories I've already mentioned so they're ripe for you...I told the stories without any bias so you should get a better point of view.