Dad’s Other Life

While Dad was the most phenomenal father in the world, he was not the most phenomenal husband in the world. No, actually Dad was always on the prowl and looking for an exciting woman to “hook up” with. My mother once told me he began cheating on her when I was a baby, but I have no proof of that. I do know that by the time I was in second grade I realized that he and the neighbor, Mrs. Kokanes, were more than just friends.

I guess my sister Lindy and I didn’t blame our dad for stepping out on our mother. Mother was the not the type of person to make anyone feel appreciated or valued. She constantly tore Dad down just as she did my sister and me. That was her coping method:

I will make myself feel better by making someone else feel worse.

She never seemed to notice that this supposed coping method wasn’t working for her.

By the time I was in junior high, Dad was allowing his steady girlfriend to be around my sister and me. Her name was Virginia and she had a funny way of showing up wherever we were with our dad. On Saturday mornings we would go the office with Dad and here Virginia would come.  She would always give my sister and me money to go downstairs and buy everyone milkshakes, which we both thought was very cool.  Sometimes on Saturday nights we would show up at the American Legion and Virginia would just happen to be there too. She would give us money to pay the jukebox and we loved doing that.

Once on a Saturday, Dad took us to Virginia’s house. She lived in a darling, well-cared for A-frame house. Virginia played records and we all danced. Sometimes she danced with Dad and sometimes she danced with my sister and me. When she and I were alone, she asked me if I would like for her to be my mother. I was pretty confused because as bad as my mother was, I knew she was still my mother.

I already have a mother.

I naively told Virginia, as though she wasn’t aware of my situation.

The thing with Virginia and Dad went on until Dad met Beatrice. Beatrice meant business and Dad found himself divorced from Mother and re-married to Beatrice in a matter of months. He was out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Beatrice was difficult in so many ways and soon Dad found some new friendships to comfort him. I was away from home, but my brother said there was a big fight over someone named Marsha. Eventually the extra-marital affairs stopped and Dad made peace with Beatrice. My sister and I were happy because all we had ever wanted was a family.

Later in life, Virginia had to go on dialysis just as my dad did. My sister always said:

Thank God he didn’t get with her. We would have had two people on dialysis and probably someone in the hospital all the time.

We often laugh about how weird it would have been if we had been responsible for both of them.

We never judged our dad. He was a great dad, just not a very good husband.

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