So about 3-4 months ago I registered for a google alert for my last name - Siperly. I pretty much know no one on my father's side of the family.
Backstory: My dad left my mom, my brother and me sometime shortly after I was born. Nothing really was ever spoken of him except that he was an a-hole who drank far too much. And he was in the military. That's it. No more info. As a child I accepted that because my mom had moved on and married a new guy.
Well, when I was in 4th grade I won a speech contest. When I got home, for some strange reason I got this urge to call my dad and tell him my good news. Surprisingly, mom had his number. I called and when I talked to my dad it was but for a minute (if that). He put me on the phone to his wife, who I didn't know. REALLY nice lady but I wanted to talk to my dad. Alas, no such luck.
Few years pass... Summer between 8th and 9th grade. Life at home is a M-E-S-S. A few things went down that I just couldn't take life anymore so I attempted to take my life. Pills. Called up a few people who were closest to me to say my goodbyes. This included my father who, once again, put me on the phone with his wife. Well, nothing happened. Just pumped and hospitalized. Life goes on.
No communication with my dad in any way but I got letters from his now ex-wife. Even got some pictures from her of my dad with his daughter. Wow, I have a sister. Not too long after that my mom tells me that this guy who I always knew as just Nordy is also a brother of mine from my father's marriage before her. Umm.. okaay.
Time passes. I'm living in Baltimore with an ex of mine and our roommate Karen. Karen moves out but it's up to her to find us a new roommate. Craig comes along. Really nice guy, studying law. He comes home one night asking me if I had a relative who was in the Navy. I tell him I think my dad's in the Army. Well, he tells me of a case they were studying of a Siperly who went to trial for assault and drunken disorderly conduct. I beg/implore Craig to bring home a copy of this. He does. Oh. My. God. A tidbit of my dad's life I probably would have never found out had Craig not moved in. Computers and Google weren't big back then. My friend LuAnn ends up surprising me by framing a copy of the case. Hangs on the wall to this day as a tribute to "the drunken sailor."
A year or so passes. By this time, I have come out as a gay man to my mother. Doesn't go well - at all- which surprises me because her brother and her 4th husband are/were gay. She stops talking to me, the christian thing to do, I'm sure.
I'm 29 now. Hanging out at my apartment when my roommate Chris tells me my mom's on the phone. Nervous. Shaking. Not sure why. She tells me there's someone in Havre de Grace staying at the Super 8. I'm from Havre de Grace so I shouldn't have any room to put on airs but still I'm thinking no one I know would stay at a Super 8. My mom proceeds to tell me it's my dad. Good lord, I've got to sit down. I tell he I'll take the first train next morning into HdG.
Because I don't handle stress (i.e. anything associated with my mother) my stomach is killing me!! But I make it home and amy mom and I have civil conversations as long as I stay clear of discussing my social life. My dad isn't due for another 3 hours. Three hours pass and he hasn't shown up. I need a Mountain Dew so I head out of my mom's place and go downstairs and I run into my dad.
I need to state that my dad is maybe 14 years older than my mom which makes him 64. The first pic I had seen of him was from 1965. Him and mom were cutting their wedding cake. Big, muscular guy, full head of hair. I'm guessing I got my body from my mother. Grrr. The next time I saw a pic of him was when he was holding his daughter. Definitely older looking but that's about it. More of a profile than head-on. So really was not prepared for what I saw. My mom was right, he surely drank a lot for he looked much older than 64. I'm thinking the drinking and sun had the biggest effects on his face. Had a purple nose. I had only seen a purple nose on a W. C. Fields photo ages back. Please God, let this not be my future, facially. Stupid thought, I'm well aware.
He asks where do I wanna go. Hell if I know. The park down the street. Um, nope.. there's this little dive bar downtown. Uh oh. Still, I go. I don't remember the specifics. Just lots of what's been going on with me: work, theater, vacations. I'll be danged if I'm sharing that I'm a homosexual with him. We just met. He works for a roofing company. Talks about his friends back home in Illinois. Says I should come and visit sometime. Sure. That'd be cool. I really meant it. We talked maybe 3 hours or so and then he's out of here to go back home. Whew. That wasn't so bad. We exchange numbers.
For a month or 2 we talk on the phone - maybe durations of 15 minutes or so. Finding I have more to talk about than he does. What he DOES mostly talk about are the bars that he and his friends hang out at. I'm thinking to myself, I can't deal with this. I put up with my mother's alcoholism, a step-father's alcoholism, older brother's alcoholism, younger brother's alcoholism for way too long. I can't/won't with my father. Selfish I know but at that time I was in ACOA and trying to get my life together. So I started screening his calls and pretty much not returning said calls. Stupid.
2002: I get a letter from his first wife who's reconnected with my father again. Another great woman in his life who was very sweet to me. Actually found ME off the internet. Told me about my dad - very basic info. They'd love to hear from me. What do I do? Nothing. I don't write back. I can't. Nerves. I can't. Hurt. I can't. Stupid.
Last year my grandmother died. Won't go into details but she was another person who, while she did a lot of good things for me, she also was a hateful person who put my life thru hell. One thing I will relate to sum up how she was: The day after I met my dad I was on cloud 9 for I thought I'd never meet him. I'd gone to my grandmother's to say hey since I was in town. Second thing out of my mouth was I met my dad. To which she responded "I don't care to hear about that asshole." Stomach starts rumbling. Happens just likethat with me. Anyway, she died last year. Found out thru my youngest brother since my mom doesn't talk to me.
Disfunctionalism all around. I'm lost. Brought up Christian learning the importance of family and respecting my elders. I'm lost. Why is it so hard for kids/children to be respected as well. I'm lost. You make your own family. I'm lost. Yeah, but I miss my mom. I miss my dad.
I send out emails to Siperly's I find on the internet. Not asking for anything. Afraid that they think I will. I just want to know family on dad's side. I get back some responses. No one knows my dad really. Heard of him. Okay. I get on Facebook and find some Siperly's. I write them. Again, not asking for anything. Just want to get to know my "family." Some respond. Most don't. Oh well.
About 2 1/2 weeks ago I find the letter from my dad's ex-wife. Very cool. I decide to finally write her and let her know what's been going on ion my life and inquire about her and my dad.
Which brings me to Monday night. I'm ready to go to bed for some reason I check my email. Oooo.. I get an email form the Google Alert. I open it up and it says the name Norville Siperly. I'm shaking. I open that link and find out my dad died Saturday night.
I'm sad. Way sad. But I'm mad at myself as well. Why didn't I write earlier???? Why do I let my nerves get the best of me far too many times? And yet, still the nerves do get the best of me for I can't even work up enough to call my mom and let her know. I don't want to her to communicate with me ONLY because of a tragedy. That's like a person trying to find Jesus only because he's dying. That stuff doesn't cut it with me.
So what I do is write a condolence thru the funeral home's website. Explaining I'm Norville's son who they've never met and I give them my email and phone number if they wish to get in touch with me.
Well, I got home from doing laundry this afternoon and got a voice mail. From my sister in Illinois. She's nervous. Understandable. Leaves her number if I want to call her back. Of course I'm gonna call her back.
Life is too short I'm finding out.