Thurs. Jan 30, 2014
ring… ring…. that’s strange… my sister rarely calls…. Is Mom in the hospital again?….
“Hi Lee. What’s up?”
“We just found out that Dad died on January 11th.”
“What? That long ago? How come nobody told us?”
“I called around to the funeral homes to see if anybody had him. I ended up calling the coroner’s office and found out he’d died on the 11th of COPD and lung disease from all his smoking all these years. They said his daughter, Heather, had him cremated. ‘You mean his STEP daughter’, I told them. I can’t believe how !#$%&@ up this whole thing is. They could have at least contacted someone in his original family to let us know. It’s not like they didn’t know who we were. Both Mom and I had gone to visit him not too long ago.”
“I can’t believe this. I’d heard from Mom that he was really sick when she went to see him, that he was small and frail and couldn’t even talk. I think 1997 was the last time he and I had spoken. When I questioned his assertion that dinosaurs and man were living at the same time, he never talked to me again. And strangely enough earlier this month I’d had a surprising dream that he had come to talk with me. I was even seriously considering calling him. I wonder now what the actual date of that dream was.”
…. beep…. silence… click…
“Hello? Are you still there? The phone is cutting out. We are driving through the mountains to get to town and see if we can find out where he is now. I’ll call you later tonight.”
As with most of us, my relationship with my parents was and is complicated. My dad was a very narcissistic, self-centered and selfish man. And he did it all with a smile on his face. He was manipulative and proud of it- especially the seductive power of charm he had over women. Then when I was in my early 20’s my Mom had enough and they divorced. Within a few years he found another family. Telling my sister when she asked why he wasn’t coming around to see his grandson anymore,
“No need to feel bad. I’ve found a new family now and I don’t talk with any of you kids anymore.”
Ouch….. But it was also from my dad that I got my love and passion for projects… my creativity to figure stuff out and make things out of what I have available around me… my curiosity as to how things work. I learned how to be an invaluable assistant, to follow directions, to learn quickly, and not to be “in the way”. And I learned about photography using his old Pentax 35mm camera that he eventually gave me.
But the biggest gift was playing guitar. I’d heard him joking for years about trading in my aging mom for two young hot hippie chicks who played guitar. (A common site along the roadside in Northern California in the late 60’s, early 70’s) Then at the age of 12 I signed up for guitar as an elective at school. He told me the best way to learn was to teach somebody else, and he let me teach him what I’d learned almost everyday after school. Then he helped me to buy my first guitar by paying half of the $110 I needed to buy that coveted Suzuki Kiso W-150 12-string guitar from the Maxon’s Music shop. Guitar playing was eventually brushed aside by Dad as he moved on to a new more exciting project. But it stuck with me, and was my savior growing up in a dysfunctional family as a teenager, and opened several doors of opportunity then and as an adult – even today. (You can listen to a bit of my playing and singing with my daughter, Amber, joining me, and see some of my video storytelling projects here.)
I still own that original guitar and have upgraded only twice in 40 years of playing. I bought a Seagull 12-string for $500 to celebrate getting my first job working for 3M in 1990. And just a few years ago, I felt I could afford upgrading once again to my current guitar, a beautiful Taylor 12-string, model GA3-12. Not gonna talk price at this point. 😉
My grieving process will most likely be as complicated as my relationship was with my dad. I am sad and sometimes angry at his selfishness and abandonment of his family and me. He met his granddaughters less than ten times in their lives. And yet I am sincerely grateful for the gifts I received from him. Parts of who I am that I love the most are because of my dad.
I don’t have many pictures of him, and most of them were scanned with poor resolution over 10 years ago when the technology wasn’t so great. Here’s what I have.
Remembering my dad… Herbert Samuel Rogers: Nov 26, 1942 – Jan 11, 2014
UPDATE 2/9/14: The following day from receiving the news that my dad had died, my sister located his lawyer, who expressed his appreciation at being informed of his client’s death.
“I intentionally omit to provide for my three adult children.”
OUCH… One last time we were merely pawns in his twisted game of life. Out of spite and anger towards our mother for divorcing him, he left everything to his now deceased second wife’s rumored illegitimate granddaughter. We could care less about any money or possessions. It’s the “intentionally omit” that hurts.
Fri, Jan 31, 3:59 PM (text message exchange)
Too upset to talk. Got Will & it says ‘I intentionally omit to provide for my 3 grown adult children’. He left everything to Cheyene, (Linda’s grand daughter)
Oh you mean a big $@#% you again from dad!!!
Sun, Feb 9, 2:48 PM (text message from sister)
Ironic…. Dad worked so hard to spite mom & now she’s getting his social security. $700 month more than she was getting on SSI. Woooooohooooo!!!! LOL. That’s retribution!!!!!!!