Father’s Day Without a Father

No, this isn’t what you think.  When you read the title, you probably thought this was about my father having passed away.  Well, he may have, I don’t know; at least I don’t know definitively.  I do not know who my biological father is.  And I believe I have a right to that information.  I am 65 years old, and my health history is becoming more important to me.  At this age, and this has been true for many years, I am not looking for a family in wanting that information.  I have a wonderful family, and I do not want to be a part of a family that does not want me.  I am confident enough to not need that.  I just want to know my lineage, and my health history. 

Since I bared my soul in my recently published book, A Year in the Life of a Recovering Spendaholic, I am ready to be vulnerable enough to post this in the hopes that it will help someone.  I am not expecting that it will help me.  If there is even one person who is helped by this, it will be worth me going through the emotions I can keep at bay most of the time, except at Father’s Day, to write it.  My passion is inspiring positive change in work, life, and family, and this covers all of those. 

Now, the story.  My mother was pregnant with me when she married my legal father.  They divorced a few years later. (I am not even sure how old I was when they divorced, and there are few people left in my family who can fill in those time gaps for me.) I did not see my legal father very often, although I was close to his family, especially his parents.  He remarried a few years later, and his wife would not “let” him see me.  I wasn’t very old when I realized that a father, legal or biological, who allows anyone to separate him from his child, isn’t much of a father, or even much of a man.

My mother passed away in 1998 at the age of 64, and she carried the secret of my biological father with her to her grave.  Through the years I had bits and pieces of information that my legal father was not my biological father, and even asked my mother for that truth, and she denied it.  I can only surmise that she wanted to maintain the illusion for me of the family I had been legally a part of.  Given the circumstances I have encountered since being told who is (supposedly) my biological father, I also think she did not want me to be rejected by the man who is my father if/when I approached him and asked him to verify his paternity.  Just an assumption on my part. 

My legal father told me the story after my mother died.  He verified that he was not my biological father, and that he had promised my mother he would not tell me that.  Once she was gone, he said he thought I had a right to the information, and I agreed.  I think his motives in giving me this information were mainly selfless. The “mainly” part refers to the possibility that he might think this information excused him from not being a present or good father.  It didn’t, but I could understand that he might think so.  He told me the story he said my mother told him, and that he had no reason to disbelieve it.  He also said that there were situations that occurred that reinforced that the man my mother said was my biological father likely was.

Not long after hearing the information, I called and spoke with my (supposed) biological father.  He turned me over to one of his daughters for her to deal with me, and I spoke with her and later met with her and her sister.  I made it clear in all conversations that I was not looking for a relationship, nor money; all I wanted was my lineage and my health history.  At that point, the two daughters were cooperating with me, and agreed that I had a right to know if he was my biological father.  But their mother had an entirely different opinion, and (per one of them) threatened to disown them if they had any further contact with me.  So, they didn’t.  Emotional bondage was strong enough to separate them and me from the truth.  One of the daughters did contact me a few years ago, and in that conversation, I learned her father passed away a few years previously.

The irony of two women “refusing” to allow a man to have a relationship with his child is not lost on me, or the similarity between these two weak men and their mean wives. 

The similarities between how my mother dealt with my paternity and how the woman married to my (supposed) biological father dealt with it are striking.  I believe my mother wanted me to be able to maintain the illusion of family that I had had with my legal father, so she refused to tell me the truth.  Hers was an act of omission.  The wife of my (supposed) biological father likely wanted to maintain the illusion of her nuclear family, and admitting my existence would shatter that.  Hers is an act of commission. 

About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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4 Responses to Father’s Day Without a Father

  1. Patti, I know this is emotional and my heart hurts that you never found out for sure this information. Thank you for being brave enough to deal with raw emotions in order to help someone else! Love and hugs!

  2. Carla Pettis says:

    Oh God bless you, Patti. Each and every one of us have a right to know our history. I am so sorry you were deprived of that knowledge. The good news is, you are a wonderful person, no matter the history. Sending a hug. 💕

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