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  • Papa was a rolling stone.

    He left when I was three but he'd left two other families before he left us. He liked the idea of marriage. He just didn't like it in practice. In my mother's case, he told her that she was too "Bourgeois".

    His first wife, Juanita, and my oldest sister, Shari, he left in about 1939. Shari was 3.

    He left his second wife and my brother and sister, H. and P., walked out without a word, leaving them stranded out in the house in the desert. My sister, P. was 3... See the pattern? It wasn't until about 10 years ago that I was taking a therapy workshop when someone pointed out that pattern. I had just revealed that his mother had died when he was three. There must be a link. But he's dead, now, so I can't ask him.

    He arrived back in my life in 1982. The last time I had seen him was in about 1965 when he came to our house to sign the papers to allow my step-Dad to adopt me. I don't think he said three words to me. I didn't even remember what he looked like that day. When he called when I was an adult, I told him I wouldn't talk on the phone. If he wanted to talk, he'd have to come to the house. He showed up the next day.

    In my head, I always thought of him as being tall and with a head of wavy red hair. I opened the door to a short, grey-haired man with a cane.

    A few days after we met again he called my brother H. in Oregon and informed him that "Surprise!" he had a sister he'd not mentioned before. I had known about all my brothers and sisters, and most of the ins and outs of my mother's relationship with Dad. She's told me the good and the bad. There was some bad but a lot more good. However, with just about everyone, he compartmentalized his life. He might have told Mom pretty well everything but he told everyone else only bits and pieces.

    He certainly hadn't mentioned to my brother that, when he had moved up to Ottawa to live with Dad during the Vietnam War, not only did he have a sister but that she lived in the same city. We may well have sat side-by-side on the bus and never knew.

    When Dad died in 1988, my brother went up to Kamloops, BC to take care of his affairs, sprinkling his ashes new Red Canyon and going through the few possessions my father had. There was a pack of negatives that my mother had given him of him and me. He'd never bothered to have them developed. H. sent me a rug that he'd hooked that I have on my bedroom floor, and copies old family photos which I had never seen, "And here's one of you when you were little!", H. wrote.

    i wrote back that I had no idea who the little girl was but it certainly wasn't me. We've asked all the family members who would know and they have no idea.

    Dad, despite his penchant for marrying and dumping his families, he had a firm rule... Marry before you have children. Considering the fact that all the photos that he had were "important family photos" and, aside from the one photo, he carries no other non-family photos.

    Maybe she IS a long-lost sister... or maybe not.

    It's Dad's final mystery.
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