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I have always adored my dad.  God sure blessed me with a kind, humble, wise and loving father.  I always dreamed I’d live with him someday; it was my wish-upon-a-star from my first wish.  My wish was granted at 16 when I lied to my mother about smoking a cigarette and she threw some of my things into a trash bag (“You’re not worth wasting a suitcase”, she said.) and dumped me at my dad’s.

If I’d known it was that easy, I’d have lied about having a cigarette at 5!  Unfortunately, it did take that long though and the extent of damage that woman did to me during my most precious and formative years simply melded itself into my spirit.

Oh the ridiculously horrible things she smugly told me my dad did didn’t damage me.  My dad slept with her sister.  My dad didn’t care if we even had food when they were married. He would spend all his money on drinking and leave us without food.   My dad abused her. My dad would be gone for days and days on a “binge”.  These things never rang true for me.  Even when very, very little, I just couldn’t buy into that stuff and quite honestly, I sensed something just ugly when she would say such things.  So, it not only didn’t ring true, i never saw my dad be anything but kind and respectful to myself and others, so I just didn’t really care if maybe it was true. I still wasn’t going to hold anything against my dad.

I lived for those rare days with my dad.  He loved me and I always knew it.  That felt so good, knowing that if I did, said, or thought the wrong thing even just once that he would still love me.  It was my only moments of happiness, love, and security.  My dad could have murdered someone and I’d still love him!  It was just a bonus that he was a happy go-lucky, loving man rather than a controlling, hateful liar.

I remember one night my mother left us with a babysitter.  I was around 10 or 11 and it was sometime around my birthday because my Dad had sent me a birthday card with a cartoon turtle c named “Myrtle the Turtle”.  turtle_birthday_card-p137666538959375740encfs_216It was one of those little kid cards with a cute-funny rhymed poem and he had signed it “All My Love, Daddy”.  I will never forget that part because I’d sit in my room for hours reading the card over and over and especially the “All My Love” part.  I believed it. And I could see it right there in his unique handwriting!!  So,  it had to be true! I believed my daddy loved me as much as anyone could possibly love someone.  I slept with the card under my pillow for months and repeatedly read it till the edges were ragged.

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So one night we had a babysitter.  I had been in my room reading the card and was really missing my dad.  I somehow knew it wasn’t okay to miss my dad so much when my mom was around.  I liked this babysitter and I didn’t think I’d get in trouble with her for missing my dad.  So I told her I missed him and I cried a little bit.  She was terrific.  She wasn’t mad at all, she was actually very nice to me and she suggested I write my dad a letter.  I loved this idea!  She helped me start a letter to him.

I didn’t finish it though and I was worried about my mom knowing I’d written it, so late that night I tore the letter in teeny-tiny pieces and threw it in the garbage, making sure to put it under some other stuff so my mother wouldn’t find it and suspect I’d written him.  I thought I’d thought of everything and I just felt good to talk to someone for the first time ever about how much I loved and missed my dad every day.  I honestly think that was the first time I had been brave enough to even say it out loud to anyone.  Even though I hadn’t finished the letter before bedtime, I just felt better for having told someone and talking about my dad with someone who was nice to me.

So although I still missed my dad something fierce, I went to bed pretty content…with my beloved Myrtle the Turtle birthday card safely under my pillow.  And all was well.

Until the next day…  The next day, my mother sat me down and yelled at me for making the babysitter feel bad talking about how much I missed my dad and crying to her about it.  That was unacceptable behavior and I was just being a big baby.  It was not to happen again.

I couldn’t understand why that really nice babysitter had told on me!  I hadn’t been naughty or done anything bad!  Why would she have told my mother on me?  She’d been so nice to me when I talked to her about it.

For punishment, my mother took away my Myrtle the Turtle card.  I still miss that card.

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