No Oprah Moment

Posted: August 2, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

For most of my life, my siblings and I harassed our mother about our father.  We often times called every Manuel Felix in the phone book.  When my mother caught wind of how important it was to us, she took us for a drive.

We drove around for hours late at night and in the dead of winter. Yes, it does get cold in Southern California. We finally came to a house in Whittier.  It was my paternal aunt’s house, Ninfa.

My mother told her former brother-in-law, at the door, that Manuel’s daughters would like to meet Manuel.  An appointment was made and we returned the next night.

What does a 15-year-old girl want her first reunion with her father to be like?  Something out of Oprah or an afterschool special ? Okay, way to mushy for me. Nope, all I was wanted was ‘I’m sorry’, a few tears, a warm embrace ….. okay yeah, I wanted an Oprah! So what?

I deserved an Oprah moment.  14 years of no child support, birthdays, fatherly protection and love!  Hell yes, I deserved an Oprah! What I got instead was The Twilight Zone.

My mother rang the door bell.  A short, very dark man appeared.  He opened the door, bowed his head (as if we were royalty and he was a butler) and extended his arm as if to direct us into the house.  I thought he was someone else.  Then my mom say it. ‘Girls, this is your father’ and he still didn’t look at us.

My aunt Ninfa came in and asked us to sit down.  She offered us drinks.  I ignored her and stared at my father.  I finally stood up and walked over to him.

I said, “My name is Monica and I’m your daughter”.  With that, he gave me a weak hug.  I could smell the street on him.  He was homeless.  His clothes looked neat and clean.  The ‘street’ odor gave him away.

I decided to forgive him at that moment.  Actually, I decided not to confront him, ever.  I silently hated him, as I embraced him.  My father was not the man my mother married.  He had lost his height, his family, his self-reliance and his dignity.

Manuel was more in need of a male role model than his children.  I saw him a handful of occasions during the next three years.  He spoke to me as if I were 5 years old.  He blamed my mother for the divorce. I sought wisdom and he patted my head ! It was official.  I was never going to have a real father.

On one occasion, he asked if he could go home with us and alluded to the fact he had a right to my mother’s bed. That was the last straw! Carmen and I yelled at him for insulting our mother. We never went to Ninfa’s house again.

My father called often and would hang up after hearing our voices.  This went on for a year.  Then it stopped, til I was in my 30’s and married.  My husband met Manuel once before he died.

When my father died, I bought him new clothes and the plot.  My brother later paid for a marker.  I couldn’t afford it. I mourned him whole heartedly.  I later bonded with his siblings in Los Mochis, Mexico.  It was the right thing to do.

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