When I was 12 years old, my parents got divorced. To this day I am not exactly sure why. My sister and I ended up living with my mom, while my dad moved away. For some reason, my dad never came around to see us, nor sent us any money. I never saw anyone on his side of the family again. Financially times were pretty rough. I remember eating a lot of macaroni and cheese. I saw my dad once when I was 14. He brought me a birthday present. We talked for a bit and then he had to go. As I recall he was like that when I was younger. Always working and had to go. I never saw my dad again. He did send me a Valentines Day card when I was 17. I never heard from him again. I did not know where he lived.
My mom married a great guy, my stepdad, who became what I would proclaim to be the worlds greatest dad. He took real good care of us and helped us through some tough times. I only hope that I am a good father like him.
A few years ago, my mom got a call from a neighbor that my dads name was in the obituaries. My mom read the obit and found out that he had died about 3 or 4 months ago. Strange. They don't run those things for that long she thought. She called the paper to find out why it was still in there. They told her that someone had paid to keep it running for a few months. My mom asked who it was. The young man said he could not tell her but he could call the person and give them my mom's number. My mom had him do that. Minutes later, my dad's sister called my mom and they had a long conversation. My mom called me.
I called my aunt and have been in contact with her ever since. Over the last few years, she and I have done a lot of catching up. She pretty well filled me in on what I missed over the years. I tried to call her every holiday and sometimes in between. I always meant to go see her. Kept talking about it. When I called last month, my cousin answered. My aunt had a major stroke. She is recovering slowly but will never fully recover. Darn.
Yesterday, in my mailbox, I recieved a package from my cousin. She sent me a little book of pictures of almost everyone in the family. My wife and kids, and I had a great time looking through it. It is really all that I have of that side of my family. It was good for my kids to finally see that my family tree does split.
There were a few pictures of my dad in his last days. He had a bad case of MS and lived his last few years in a nursing home. It was harder than I thought it would be for me to see him, all old and withered. Not how I remembered him. I cried a bit. My wife says that our oldest son looks a lot like my dad. She thinks that I look like my dad's mom. Pictures do tell a lot.
I am making plans to get down there and see my aunt, and my whole new family. I will not miss out again, nor do I want my kids to.