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  • I read a book in my thirties called "Absent Fathers, Lost Sons", which had quite an effect on me. The book told me that all the emotions, hatred, and terrible homelife events in my life were fairly normal for someone with an absent father. My father traveled a lot for business and in those days, international travel was a big deal with trips lasting three to six weeks due to the length of flights and general difficulties of travel. He has probably gone for half the year. Mother went with him quite often and that left me with my grandmother, or later with a live in maid. I had no idea that this was detrimental to my being. My father was doing really well in business and loved his job, mother tolerated it, knowing it would be over at age 60 or so.

    My three sisters were in boarding schools when I was growing up and with traveling parents, I was left to my own devices in the then sprawling town of Greenwich, CT, with its four acre zoning and mansion like houses.

    I didn't know much about the outside world. My world was the bubble of my hometown, and school trips, vacations to some fancy place or another, and a ski house in Vermont. Dad had yet to take up golf, as if his absence could get worse.

    As a child, this life of wealth and status was lost on me, as I saw little else. There was nothing to compare it to. No one was poor, or wanting in any way. No one was unsafe, worried about world peace, or in any way constrained. I lacked nothing... Or at least that was what I thought. Birth to age 12 was spent worrying about absolutely nothing at all. The JFK assassination, the Cuban missile crisis, and the threat of nuclear war were only headlines scanned at breakfast before looking at baseball cards and oiling my glove or working the pocket on my lacrosse stick. Images of the bad times are certainly etched on my mind, but the long term effects were lost on me. Never gave me pause. Two great things did happen. First, I was introduced to broadway shows by Victrola, which would belt out show tunes every night during cocktail hour. I know every song from dozens of musicals, but never saw one until "Oliver!". After that, I saw every one until I left the area in 1997. Second, I was good a sports, particularly skiing. I lived to ski and every weekend in the winter, we'd pile in the car and head to Vermont where we skied until Sunday afternoon and then pile in the car to go back. I got really good at skiing. So good and fast that I'd have to ski alone as no one else in the family could keep up. More time without Dad. He would actually get angry with me for skiing so fast and so well....

    My father didn't do normal stuff with me. He didn't play catch. He never rode a bicycle. He didn't take me to the movies. We never went out to restaurants. He never taught me anything, save by example. And of course, that example was that it's OK to leave your family for weeks at a time without a thought of what might result. Even more OK when you're making so much money that you can make it up by giving presents when you return. He came back from South America once with a blow gun, and darts tipped in curare. I thought about trying it out on the dog.

    I didn't know that he was such a terrible father until I stacked him up against my mother, who was truly terrible. But that's another day.
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