Friday, September 9, 2011


My biological father was a man with no redeeming qualities. I mean it. I met him when I was 15 and fascinated with the idea of having a father again. My beloved stepfather, whom I grew up believing to be my father, died when I was 13. Although the lie about my paternal origins came out when I was 10, my love for Daniel Bass, my daddy, was so deep and so strong that I thought I'd never recover from the revelation. Even when death tragically took Daddy from me, I refused to entertain the possibility of a replacement--even a biological one. Neediness and deprivation got the best of me, and by 15, I wanted the love and promise that my father offered. In four short years of sporadic contact, a gift here and there, and no financial support, I wished I'd never met the man. He was a man without an ethical impulse, without a conscience, without any sense of what it means to love. He was cruel to his spouse, the children of his legal marriage, and even his very young grandchildren. For those of us who were his "bastards," the degrees of deception, unkindness and meanness are unspeakable. He is my shining example of depravity.

I have, from time to time, wondered about my "siblings." I know the two remaining children of the marriage. I also know of 4 other bastard children. All are considerably younger than I. I met one of them when he was 2 and I was 19. Without a word of introduction, I looked at that child's face and knew he was my brother. I saw my face in his. I remember their mother as kind and caring, and, like my mother, absolutely clueless about the man whom she was "going to marry." Twelve years and 3 children later, he bought her house (with his children in it) in a foreclosure sale, and that sweet woman found herself and those 4 children (1 of whom was an infant) homeless and on a fast train down south to her parents. The children grew; the mother never recovered from the deception, the shock, the shame and the cruelty.

Four of the six siblings have come into my life during the past 4 months. It's my fault. I opened one door, and three others opened within minutes. The ones who didn't know our father want to know what I know; the one who grew up with him wants to talk about our lives; there is one who dislikes gay people (she loves Jesus, of course): the youngest one is sad, lonely, the outcast. All are involved in various kinds of drama, and I've seen our father even in my brief conversations with them--the meanness, the lack of compassion and empathy, the inability to forgive. "We're family," they say, and that's a notion I'm unwilling to accept. We're biologically related, but it takes more than that to be family. The negotiations proceed: Who can see whom? Who speaks to whom? Who wants to meet? Who's not interested? Although I'll admit that the biological tug and my curiosity are strong, everything in my head tells me to run like hell. What I wish for is that romanticized notion of loving siblings, reunions and gatherings. I already know it's too late for that. They are fractured, dysfunctional, and there is so little evidence of love among them.

I can only be me. I'm already begging forgiveness from people I don't know for wrongs I'm not sure I committed. "You don't need me," I say, and they don't. "You don't love me," I say, and they can't. I don't want to spend my time making a relationship with people with whom I have nothing in common but a sperm donor. I don't want to remember our father. I don't want to recount my experiences with him. I don't want to hear another giggle when I tell one of them what he did to me. I don't want to ignore or pretend or make it pretty or make him anything other than the despicable man he was. And so my decision is to simply let go. They have all found each other. I made that possible. That is my gift to them. My gift to me is the gift of peace--of gratitude for the family that I found at 15, for my partner, my real and true friends, for my pups and kitty.

I wish those with whom I share that biological connection all good luck and good fortune. I hope they find all they seek. This is not a road I will walk again. Doris and Colleen walked me through that darkness. I won't go back again. Not now. Not ever.