The 10 Things I know About My Dad

The 10 Things I know About My Dad

I grew up knowing nothing about my real father. My mom had a new boyfriend around, seemingly monthly, and acted like information about my real dad was hers and hers alone. Either that or her narcissism kept her from ever asking him anything about himself. She claimed he was Native American but didn’t know what tribe/region. She didn’t know anything about his parents and basically told me he grew pot, played piano (not sure what kind) and rode a motorcycle.

You’ll be my dad, Right Danny?

My half brother (8 years older) hated him because he apparently beat him with belts and wooden spoons before I was born (which was my fault of course, so he hated me too). He called my dad, and by proxy me, “Apache” and “Navajo”, which were supposed to be insults but really my thought was “Really? cool, that’s more than mom ever told me”. I always paid close attention to whatever horrible things my brother said about him, trying to stay objective (because I had no love for the man either), but observant. He was “a drunk”, which my mom would have never admitted because she was too (and since, my paternal half brother has repeated this when we met in 2019). He had been in prison, I believe it was implied for drunk driving, more than once.

Up until my late teens my brother would still insult my dad. He must have traumatized him pretty good because by then my brother was in his late 20s. After the movie Desperado came out, he told me my dad basically looked like Danny Trejo. Which again,, internally, I was like “cool!” but knew it wasn’t really true. In desperado Trejo was a knife throwing assassin, his rugged face and muscular arms are probably exactly what my dad with a belt looked like to a 6 year old boy.

From my own memories and my brother, I gathered a few things my mom wouldn’t have told me.

  1. I made him uncomfortable, and he never spoke directly to me that I remember.
  2. He had a cool car, a big 70s boat, and a cool dog, a Doberman. On that instance, my mom needed to get or give him something. They briefly argued and I had come along to see if he would acknowledge me but he didn’t even look at me, I was 4. He later raised Great Danes.
  3. He had paper and coloring pens/crayons in his house because my mom dumped me on him once for an afternoon and that’s what he gave me before he left for the bar. I mention this because although he didn’t have any toys or books, he had something for kids to do which made me wonder at the time if my other half siblings were ever left there. I was jealous of them potentially getting to see him, even if it was only for a few minutes before he left for the bar. Now I wonder if that’s when drawing became my thing and really never played with toys, mostly drew whenever I got the chance, all the way through high school – then I got too busy with working.
  4. He had a Grandma Bilodeau from the Midwest who was in his life and came to visit him, at least once stopping by my mom’s house when I was about 4 or 5. I remember her at the door with a big head of fluffy grey hair; me “shy” as always and my mom rude to her, as she is to most people. I don’t even think she came in the house. She wrote me every Christmas and sent me a few dollars to spend. I still have the letters, however, they don’t say much.
  5. He was an alcoholic and ex con – as verified by both half brothers and one of his ex wives. I don’t judge so I have no opinion on this really but I am surprised I don’t have a tendency to drink a lot, given my mom and dad were both avid drinkers.
Most of them say “Hi, Hope you’re well, I didn’t know you moved again – I never know if my letters will reach you” (because we moved yearly or less).

As an adult I learned…

6. He probably resented me because my mom wasn’t even sure if he was the father – apparently it could have been some blonde guy – which actually made more sense because I was blonde. Until Sarah found me on a DNA site I was sure he probably wasn’t even my dad. She also had possibly manipulated him by adopting me out to a couple who ran a milk farm (as a baby), then “changing her mind” to get him back (?) story unclear. She is generally an awful person and everyone eventually realizes it and hates her, based on my siblings, their dad, and my step dad’s reactions to the very mention of her later in life.

7. He owned a house, no idea how, from who it had come, or how he bought it, but once, while my mom and step dad were getting a divorce, we came to Spokane for a job she had (taking care of an old man. another story), she decided to see if my dad still lived there. I was about 11 and of course uncomfortable with the idea of meeting the dad who didn’t want anything to do with me. She doesn’t want to see him so of course the decent thing to do is send your 11 year old daughter to go knock on the door and deal a “hi I’m your long lost daughter” blow to his face. Thanks mom.
I’m scared shitless and go to the door, under some kind of threat I can’t remember. I’m relieved when a woman answers the door and I ask after “Dave”. She’s confused for a minute then realized I’m talking about the owner from whom she is renting the house from. He’s in Oregon is all she says and I happily go back to the car fatherless yet again.

8. He made turquoise jewelry. When I finally met my sister Sarah I find out more about him, a little via her but mostly via her mom. She doesn’t remember much either but is a couple years older than I am and saw him a little more. He was apparently raised partly on a reservation by his grandmother Rose, my great grandmother. Another person I have had 0 luck finding information about. Some of her letters came from Wisconsin I believe. I’ve had a ring for a very long time and I remember getting it from my mom at some point. I have no idea under what circumstances because she’s not the giving type, she’s the pawning type. Its source was unknown but I had the impression my dad gave it to her for some reason, Sarah’s mom saw a photo and verified that he most likely made it. Then I remembered a knife my brother had when I was little that had a stone encrusted antler handle made by my dad, so then it all made sense. I wish he’d have taught me that.

9. The Piano he played, was ragtime. I wish he’d taught me that too.

10. He truly and genuinely believed he was native American and so did everyone else. He isn’t much, but we have lived in a “one drop” society anyway. And that’s not to say that there aren’t dominate genes because he certainly looked the part. All my siblings on his side have tan skin and none of us burn. I may be the palest because of my lifelong anemia, or just bad luck, but despite us having a very low percentage it’s still there. My haplogroup is also a very rare native American haplogroup with a dominate female ancestor 16k years ago. He was raised to believe he was indigenous, he was treated as if he were based on his looks and personal beliefs, and therefore he was. Before he died he was known to locals as “Indian Dave”, an affectionate if not semi-derogatory nickname – but hopefully it was never used out of spite. I wish I knew more about his life there and life growing up. Based on his child beating practices he probably didn’t have a great childhood himself.

Overall I still know nothing. I know his grandmother’s name and that she’s from the Midwest. His name is too common – to the point where strange coincidences happen like, a David Wayne Smith, born around the same time in North Carolina, had a father named Emory – which is my paternal half brother’s name, however that Dave Smith died in his 20s in North Carolina. What the hell are the chances of that? See what I have to worth with? If someone really doesn’t want to exist, they don’t have to.

This is where my Great Grandmother lived in the 80s. She died in 1992 and my mother never told me as far as I can recall.

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