My father’s mistress (which is how I’ll always think of her – no matter how long she was married to my biological father) sent me a package that I received this Thanksgiving weekend. This was in response to me asking my half sister for some pictures that my father had of my sister, Chrissy, and I when we were very small children. My mother didn’t have any and Chrissy had seen them in albums at my father’s house when she went to visit. Not surprisingly, instead of the photos that I requested, I received this mysterious package. Now, mind you, this wasn’t a box or even a UPS “pack”, it was simply a manila sized envelope. The whole of the childhood I shared with my father.

Enclosed in this envelope were around 15 photos (scattered and not put into the small photo book that was also enclosed), some cards that my mother bought for me to give to my father for holidays when I was clearly too young to buy them or fill them out myself, a handwritten letter I wrote to the band “The Monkees” when I couldn’t have been more than six or seven, a business card holder, a coin with a poodle on it (a poodle was our first – and second – dog), three parking stubs from the Rockefeller Centre parking garage from the late 70s, two newspaper ads where I modeled for a photography studio, an article from Dear Abby from a girl who regretted not having her father walk her down the aisle at her wedding, a couple of letters and poems he wrote to me and the card and check that he sent me when my son, Michael, was born, that I sent back. Oh, and there was a program from my twirling days, when I was a Nicolette. The pictures in it are so dark I can’t even make out who is who. The coup de gras, however, was a three page, typed letter from Donna (that’s her name), to me.

I think it’s clear, right at first blush, that several of the items enclosed were clearly just passive aggressive jabs (the Dear Abby letter, the card and check we sent back being the most “in your face”). The letter, though, is just priceless. To read it, you would think that my father was the best thing since sliced bread.

I’m very annoyed with myself that I let this “package” effect me. And it did. I was sad for the same reason that I was sad when he died. Not because I loved him so much and would miss him but, because I felt so little and I guess, deep down, I feel that it was just heartbreaking that, even though all of our attempts to reconcile in the past had been futile, it was now clear that it was FINAL and there would never be another attempt, he would never have that epiphany that he would have needed for us to have had any type of real relationship.

Then I got angry and that’s how I remain. I’m hoping that writing this blog will help me to purge that hurt and anger and, as I always hope, inspire someone to do something maybe a little differently to get a better outcome in their lives.

The anger comes because despite the fact that this woman came into our lives when I was just a baby, snuck around with my father and helped to break up my family, I had never sunk to her level and called her out on any of it. Not even when I was the typical angry teenager. Believe me, over the years there were times when I wanted to let her know how I felt about her however, I had too much class. After all, I was raised by my mother and stepfather (who is my dad). But, now since she has come into my world and affected my life, she will get a response, if only because I’d like to address some inaccuracies in her letter.

I will address the rest of the blog as though I am talking directly to Donna but, you are all welcome to come along for the ride.

First of all, you state that you are happy that Meghan and I have a relationship (Meghan is my ½ sister). However, Meg being quite clueless to the intricacies of our history, will probably never speak to me again after reading my response to you. Nice job there.

Your next point about Chrissy and Jessi (my other ½ sister) and I having bad feelings for each other is a joke. And, you call Chrissy “headstrong” but, you have nothing to say about my sister, Chrissy. You did not raise her, she is not a part of you or your life. As a matter of fact, you were with my father the night she was born so, he wasn’t even there at her birth. The fact of the matter is, Meghan told Jessi’s daughter (who was distraught over the fact that she had just lost her grandfather – who, from what I heard over the years pretty much raised her because her mother had some “issues”, to say the least) to call me, that I might be someone good for her to talk to, etc. Jessi’s daughter then “friend requested” me on Facebook. Being the caring person I am, and having nothing at all against Jessi or her daughter, I accepted her request, and sent her a message (or wrote a comment – I don’t even remember) to the effect that I was here for her if she ever needed to talk. I did this despite the fact that I was still grieving my own mother, who had only been gone not even six months at that time and that I had my own issues about my father passing, whatever they might have been.

To my surprise, instead of an e-mail from Jessi thanking me, I received an ugly, rancid, hate filled message from your daughter. She wrote something to the effect that how DARE I contact her daughter (remember – her daughter contacted me) I barely responded except to tell her that she needed help or something to that effect and immediately blocked her and unfriended her daughter. I happened to be on the way to my very first visit to the oncologist without my mother – BAD, BAD timing. It was at this point, when I forwarded the e-mail to Chrissy for her perusal, that Chrissy went at it with Jessi. Because of the situation that you and my father had put us in, Chrissy and I have a very special bond. This is on top of the fact that Chrissy is a little overprotective due to my health issues. You remember them, don’t you, Donna? Diagnosed at 31 with breast cancer, chemotherapy, radiation, botched reconstruction, 20 surgeries and now a depressed immune system that can cause my dormant infection to rear its ugly head at any time? Did my father tell you about those things? I can’t be sure. I know he left me a few messages during those years and maybe sent a card but, that was about the only support I received from my father during that ordeal (which lasted longer than ten years). And, whether you know this or not, we were on speaking terms at that time. I was a little surprised that he didn’t show up or at least ask to come see me during this long period but, shame on me. He and Chrissy had a good relationship when she had her horrible motorcycle accident in the early 90s. She almost died, just like me years later. Did you know that?? Chrissy gave people some bullshit excuse (because people ask where your own father is, you know, and it’s embarrassing to tell they are not coming) about the fact that she told him not to come. You have kids, Donna. Could wild horses keep you away if they were in the hospital in critical condition after having a motorcycle accident? Well, I guess you are the wrong one to ask. I know NOTHING could keep me away.

No worries, though. Once again, my mother took care of everything. For both of us. As always.

Anyway, back to Jessi. I never had anything at all against her. I welcomed her into my home. She was a victim of you adults just like the rest of us kids. There is a lot I could say here (she probably has been lied to her entire life about her early years) but, unlike you, I’m not a cruel person so, won’t go there. She can now, however, kiss my ass in Macy’s window.

Your letter goes on to say that although my father and I messaged each other a few times, “things just never came together in the way he wished they would”. Sigh. Where do I begin with that one? My father and I tried numerous times to attempt to have some sort of relationship. I spoke to him when I was away at college probably once a week for a while. Did you know that? From you letter, it doesn’t sound as though you did. The problem was, all he wanted to talk about was you and your family. I told him nicely that I wasn’t comfortable with that and could we please just start off our “new” relationship by talking about simple things; books, movies, my studies, his interests? When he refused and continued to try and push you on me, I told him that “I just wasn’t ready” to pick the relationship at that time. His response was to get revenge on me by filing papers with the courts to stop my child support. He used information I gave him about my life, twisted it, and tried to hurt me (and my mother) by stopping his support. He told them that I was emancipated (lie),that I was living in Brooklyn with my boyfriend (lie) and for those reasons, he shouldn’t have to pay anymore. Thanks, “Dad”. So glad I opened up to you.

The next part of your letter insinuated that because I was his “first” and he stopped seeing me when I was so young, I was frozen in time as his “little princess”. You say that he gave up his job as a stock broker because he came home one night and heard me calling my grandfather “Daddy”. So, he wanted to spend more time with me. I admire your ability to just accept anything he said as truth, considering his entire life was a lie for many years, however, the fact was that my mother was very, very sick with thyroid cancer and in the hospital for a while. My “father” didn’t take care of me during that time – my grandparents did. I don’t know if he was working long hours, having an affair with someone else, with you? Who really cares? The reason I called my grandfather daddy is because he was raising me in my father’s stead. He was the one who came to the Brownie Tea parties, the school dances, etc. Not my father.

And really, how dumb do you think people are? The time that you two spent sneaking around took time away from ALL of us kids (including your own). Lots of time. So your quote “…and although you knew him, I wish you had known him”, while very dramatic, is comical to me. You, yourself, are one of the direct and proximate reasons I did not know him. And, as far as him including my children in his grandchild count, that doesn’t mean shit to me. Just because he biologically fathered me, and I them, doesn’t mean he was their “grandfather”. My stepfather is their grandfather. He has been there for them unconditionally, has babysat, carted them to practices, gone to their games. Biology is just that – biology.

You point out that my father was funny and I agree but, who cares? And, yes, he could write beautiful poems and hug and kiss but, what good is that when it is not coupled with being there for the hard stuff? What good is a hug and a kiss when, just a couple of hours later he was knocking down our Christmas tree and scaring the shit out of us kids, pushing my mother around, putting his hand through the glass door and calling my mother disgusting names in front of the entire block, forcing me (at The Record Pilot) to call you and tell you I love you and then, in my refusal, physically hurting me. What good is a tickle session when it is followed by him taking me to a court ordered therapy session and getting angry at me and speeding up and stamping on the brakes so hard that I would go flying, and get hurt, over and over and over again. By the time we got to therapy, I was terrified and hurt. A lot of this is documented. My guess is, he just never told you. Or maybe he did and you guys had a good laugh at our expense. I don’t put anything past you.

How awesome to read that he was smart, had a high IQ, was a good photographer and was athletic. His class superlative was “Most Athletic”. Well, my mother was voted “Most Considerate”. And I was voted “Best Singer” and “Best Eyes”. Who cares? These are not the things that shape a person’s character.

I have to say, I really resent the portion about how in the 60s, things between women and men just snowballed from going steady and you got married before you grew up and really knew what you wanted. First of all, I am a Dean’s List student who graduated from  Hofstra, who happens to also have a high IQ, and has owned her own business for the past 14 years . I’m not a dummy. I’m well aware of the fact that many people back in the sixties got married “just to get out of their parents homes”. However, I have talked to many, many people who knew my parents back then and they LOVED each other. I was conceived in LOVE. As a matter of fact, in the midst of his cheating on my mother with you, he told my Uncle Neal that he was so confused because he was in love with TWO women. Bet you didn’t know that. Or that he told my Aunt that he really wanted to stay but, my mother had had it. You probably didn’t know that either.

I chose to stop going with my father on the weekends for my own reasons. Remember, Donna, I was a little bit older. So, you saying that I told my father that “I couldn’t” go rather than I didn’t want to go might be true but, if it is it was because I was only nine years old and afraid of him. I am my mother’s daughter, Donna. I don’t do ANYTHING I don’t want to do. If I had wanted to go – I would have gone. As far as you saying that “Once Meghan was born, Chrissy couldn’t go” is the biggest lie of all. My mother and dad had just had Lori and Chrissy would cry and beg my mother not to make her go to your house on the weekends. She wanted to be with her new baby sister.

And, like you said, Chrissy did come back into your lives later. Mommy never stopped her. As far as the strained relationship with him the last year or so, you can thank your daughter, Jessi, for that. She constantly tried to make Chrissy feel guilty for not being there. YOU chose to move away. It wasn’t our fault. We were just children.

You say that “Although what happened was wrong, we couldn’t apologize for loving each other.” You don’t even realize how childish and selfish and cruel you sound. When you are married and you find yourself attracted to someone else, especially when there are children involved, you remove yourself from the situation. People do it every day. You were “deeply sorry for the hurt it caused and the effect it had on you and your sister’s lives”. Sorry but, bullshit. I believe you thrived on the drama. I think you are an ugly person and I believe that sneaking around was part of the fun for you.

You are wrong on a bunch of other facts, too (like him winning all the court battles). I have the paperwork to prove that this is patently untrue. The paperwork stated that it should be my choice whether I went with him on weekends or not. The funniest, though, is that he paid his child support on time and at 100% when he only was ordered to pay 50%. I won’t even dignify this with a response – it makes my blood boil. We sat on Doe Lane in patched up jeans eating mac and cheese and pastina for dinner with coins my mother rolled while you moved your happy little family to Virginia Beach into a beautiful and huge home. Please, Donna. Give me a break. And, what should he get, a medal for providing the bare minimum? I do remember one particular time when he paid it when he picked me up from school. My mom was waiting there and all of my friends were there, as well (everyone was waiting to get picked up). He threw the check on the ground at my mother’s feet and said to her “stoop for it, like you stoop for everything else”. I also remember how we would go to the dentist (he was responsible for our medical and dental) and he would be three payments behind. Bless Dr. McDonald’s heart, he would just give us our cleanings and never made my mother feel embarrassed.

You tell me “Despite his telling me not to, I always felt guilty for the loss of you and your sister”. Well, you should. I hope you do until the day you die. This wasn’t a movie set. Not a drama. These were real people. And you hurt a LOT of them.

You end with telling me that you hope this letter gives me some insight into who my father was. What you have to understand is that that is who he was to you. To me, he was absent, confusing, abusive (both mentally and physically) and an all around failure as a father.

From your letter, it appears he has lied to you, too – not a shocker. You make it sound as though our relationship ended when I was a child. It, in fact, continued throughout my entire life. We tried when I was in college, he came by my home when Jack was a baby and then, again, when Dominick was small. I spoke to him when Aunt Jeanie passed away.
In your letter, you state that he just wanted to tell me his side of the story. Well, probably unbeknownst to you, he called me from a hotel room a few years back (he was either at a job interview or there for a job) and he WAS able to tell me his side of the story. The problem was, I didn’t believe most of what he was selling. And, like you said yourself in so many words, he was one hell of a salesman. Unfortunately for him, I’m not at all gullible.

And, I don’t believe for one second that you didn’t care if we had a good relationship. As a matter of fact, it always seemed odd to me that he was nervous while we were on the phone and that he often called me from places other than his home.
I guess karma is a bitch and I’m sure it bothers you when you see my family on Facebook; how close we are, how we all have nice homes, beautiful children, good jobs and are there for each other unconditionally. From what I hear, it’s quite different around your parts. I heard that you said recently that we (Chrissy and I) put our mother on a pedestal. You bet your ass we do. We have every reason to. She raised us to be law abiding, loving and moral people, despite the hell you two put her through.

I understand that you are having your own health crisis at the moment. Did you know that the “reason” my father gave my mother for cheating on her was that he was afraid she was going to die?

I hope you live a long life and that you can come to understand just how cruel what you and my father did was. And that you can atone for that before your end comes.

So, as they say in legalese, “you’ve opened the door”. I took the time to respond and honestly, it was cathartic for me so, for that, I thank you.

In your closing, you say that you “pray that someday you will meet your Dad again in a better place and (we) can share a hug”. Can you do me a favor? Mind your own business. You should never have interfered in my relationship with my father. Will you finally stop now?

549569_10151052299848113_1946201747_nMy Grandpa and first “Daddy”

167fMy stepfather and “Real” Daddy.