My Two Dads

A couple of weeks ago, my dad fell for one of those scam phone calls telling him he won money. If he’d give the caller his birth date, social security number and credit card number they would load the cash prize onto his card; he complied with all three. When he hung up he got suspicious and cancelled his credit card, saving himself and my sister, who’s his power of attorney, a lot of grief.

When my sister told me what happened I wasn’t really surprised. Dad still discusses politics and sports with enthusiasm, drives his Lincoln around town and plays golf during the summer. But, he also gets confused and forgetful, repeats stories. I thought back to the dad I grew up with, in some ways it’s hard to believe they’re one and the same.

PicMonkey Collage

Blurry photo of photo of dad, about 19, on left, and at 80, on right

My parents divorced when I was eight, my dad deciding he no longer wanted the responsibilities of marriage. Mom and dad were just 21 and 22, respectively, when they married, so I can almost understand, but the split left me feeling hurt, abandoned and resentful. I carried the weight of these feelings with me into my adulthood, unwilling to look at them. Anger and fear affected my relationships until I realized I needed to accept and forgive. I also needed to ask forgiveness, I wasn’t the most warm and loving daughter.

All of that is long behind me; I love my dad. It’s bittersweet to realize he’s elderly and needs to be cared for, needs meals prepared for him and to be given his medication, which he gets in the assisted living facility he lives in. And, he needs to be reminded not to give out his personal information.

The other day, when I was looking for who knows what, I came across a copy of The Connecticut Writer, where I had a poem published, in 1992. I had submitted a piece of fiction in a contest and, at the last minute, decided to submit a poem, too. Neither won but my poem was selected to be published. I’ve been looking for this journal, on and off, all year. Ironic that I found it the day before my sister told me about dad’s phone call.

Weekly Ritual With Dad 

I know the restaurant as if
we were in mom’s kitchen
(but her kitchen is not
your kitchen anymore).
In the booth
we always occupy, my fingers
trace initials carved in
wood slab table top.

We order lunch
enough for one
you excuse yourself
with a wink, I watch you
zigzag through the maze of tables
obstacle course mastered
lunches ago.
You laugh and smile into
black box phone
my enemy.

I eat alone
each bite from the sandwich
chokes me
sticks in my throat
competes with words
that come up but
never out
you’re too far to hear.
Sit with me
I’m hungry

(originally published in The Connecticut Writer, Volume 17, 1992

37 replies

  1. Thank you for sharing your poem, Geralyn. I can feel the pain in your words…I’m so sorry.
    Gosh, I hate to hear about your father and the scamming phone call. That makes me so mad when these lowlifes target the elderly. I hope he doesn’t suffer any financial ramifications.

    • Thanks, Jill. Thankfully, all that pain is in the past….it’s all good now! Those scams toward the elderly make me mad, too! I wouldn’t have thought my dad would fall for it but he did. He’s got life lock now. Of course I worry his identity will be stolen, will cross that bridge if we have to.

  2. I totally relate. My dad was very shrewd when it came to those types of scams…just not so shrewd with the lady vultures that prey upon elderly men. In all fairness, there are also guy vultures that prey upon elderly women, too. 😦

    Blessings to you and your sister as you navigate this part of your family journey…

  3. Beautiful poem Geralyn. I’m very sorry to read about your Dad and hope that in his years left there is time for you two to continue and enjoy each others company. Very sorry to learn of the phone scam with your Dad, but good for him that he immediately canceled his credit card – hope that they don’t go after all his identity. The vultures are out there a plenty.

    My parents, both in their 80’s, are dealing with the same demons and the time has come for us kids to begin taking care of them – from dementia to aging issues we are facing them all. The time either holds a family together or tears them apart – it’s a long road ahead.

    • I am worried someone will steal dad’s identity, too, Mary. I’m trying not to think the worst. My mom is in great physical and mental health. But, dad’s been on medication for dementia for a few years. He’s really happy where he is and that makes me very happy. He’s finding pleasure in simple things like a visit or lunch out with friends. I can learn a lot from him. 🙂 Here’s to the road ahead!

  4. Luckily your dad grew suspicious and canceled the card. It’s a shame how these scammers prey on people. Even the best of us can get taken in at times.

    Visceral poem. Enjoyed reading it.

    • I know other older people who’ve been scammed, too, Carrie. It’s been drilled into me not to give out my social security number, ever. I would have thought my dad would remember this, he’s since been reminded. 🙂

  5. I love the poem Geralyn. It is so heartful/heart-wrenching actually. I can empathize in a way because of my upbringing with my dad. I think you know about it from past posts.
    That’s too bad that your dad had to cancel his card. But thankfully, he did so before any other headaches appeared.
    Hope you’re having a nice week Geralyn.

    • I thought of you, Staci, as I wrote my post. It’s hard to choose the right words so as not to cause any hurt feelings. But, I don’t want to pretend I didn’t experience what I experienced. I understand things so much better now. 🙂

      • Geralyn, I’m touched that you thought of me while writing this. I really do like your poem. It’s very well written.
        I’m all for not pretending. I’m all for letting those feelings come to the surface and dealing with them. Good for you.

  6. It makes my stomach turn to read of these scammers. So glad to hear your Dad was able to realize it after. It happened to relatives of mine as well. They are so slick these people.
    In reading your poem I can hear your hurt. I wish peace for you in these later years with your Dad.

  7. Your poem says so much, Geralyn and was obviously written right from the heart. I’m glad you’ve mended bridges with your dad now. Life’s too short not to, and regrets go on for ever if we don’t make our peace. I’m so glad that your dad didn’t lose any money through the scam email. These people are so evil. i don’t know how they can bear to live with themselves.

    • Thank you Sylvia. You’re right about regrets. I didn’t want to live with a list of them if I didn’t resolve my relationship with dad while he was still alive. As the saying goes, he did the best he could, and I honestly believe that today. Scammers = the worst!

  8. I lost my grandfather three years ago, and at the end he wasn’t the same person I grew up with. It’s so very hard to conjure up images of when in his early life, because the more recent ones are still raw. Sorry to hear about the scammers. Hopefully, he will recognize it if someone tries to do this again.

  9. Oh boy, that poem packs a punch. I’m actually crying a bit here. Such pain we go through in childhood. And then in adulthood, we have to sooth that pain, understand it, and forgive the giver of the grief. Good grief – sometimes it’s just too much.
    My mom is also in assisted living now. She’s feisty as all get out, but when she wasn’t getting her newspaper delivered (or she thought she wasn’t) she gave a check to the delivery boy in the lobby and told him to get it started up again. The boy cashed the check. No newspaper, though. 😦

    • I had to do some hard work, Pam. For a long time I wasn’t willing to forgive and it really caused me more pain. I can now let that all go and enjoy the times I’m with my dad. Glad to hear your mom’s still feisty! But, I hate hearing these stories of our parents being taken advantage of.

  10. Your poem tugs at my heart. And yet … you were able to forgive and love him. A wonderful thing for you both.

  11. Scams are ridiculous! Even the ones on facebook look legit! Share this = free tickets! Share this = gift card. We all want it to be true SO BADLY. 😦

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