Today is a day to celebrate fathers. All over Facebook, friends are posting pictures of their dads, saying how wonderful they are, or wishing them Happy Father’s Day in Heaven, or some other similar sentiment.
I have a different kind of sentiment regarding my father.
He was a handsome young man. I was told he was smart, talented, and…angry. He did not get along with his father, who was old fashioned, proper, and formal. My father was, I guess, more of a renegade. Stories I’ve recently heard have caused me to compare him to Holden Caulfield, from Catcher in the Rye. Sadly, I loathe the character of Holden Caulfield and I hated Catcher in the Rye.
My grandfather was a self made man, one who rose above the challenges he faced in his young life. He was born in 1902, or thereabouts, and I assume it was in Philadelphia. Around 1910, his mother died. Grandfather came home one day to find a note from his father, stating he had left, and was never coming back. I guess Grandfather lived with an aunt or some other relative. He eventually grew up to be a successful man, but I know nothing about what personal demons he may have fought throughout his life. He did marry and have three children.
One of those children was broken – at the time nobody knew what autism or Asperger’s was. From what I’ve been told, I believe my uncle probably suffered from Asperger’s. This surely was difficult for Grandfather.
I do not know the dynamic of the family life – I only know that my father never got along with Grandfather. And he was hell bent on being rebellious, though what prompted him to join the Marines I’ll never know. My brother and I are not even sure he made it past boot camp.
At some point, he married our mother Ellen. He fathered my brother and me.
And then, Ellen died in a tragic accident. And, I never saw my father again. My brother saw him a few times, I guess – he took a bus as a young boy into NYC to meet him (Father couldn’t come here to get him I guess) and then he just disappeared out of our lives completely, and my brother, like our Grandfather, was 8 when he lost his dad and mom.
For years he did come to PA to visit friends but he never came to see us. Then, he died in an accident. I did not even know how to grieve. I felt so empty, numb…and I’ve been feeling empty and numb in ways off and on my entire life.
I never got to know him. I would have welcomed him back into my life at any time. I yearned for his presence. As a child of the 70s and 80s, I watched a lot of soap operas with my adopted mom. I used to envision my long lost dad showing up out of nowhere and whisking me away (I did not get along well with my adopted father at all. I didn’t have a good relationship with him until just before he died.)
I’m angry with you, Joseph Myles McGinnis. You were very selfish and cruel, no matter how you may have justified your behavior in your mind. You left two broken and bruised children behind, and you never looked back. Shame on you.
In spite of you, we grew up to be good citizens, good parents, good people. You missed out on so much by leaving us behind. You will never know your five beautiful grandchildren, and they will only know you as an irresponsible coward and a selfish rebel who ran away.
What a legacy. What a shame.