My whole life I have had what I call my “moving dreams”. Since we moved so much growing up, I would dream I was somewhere and I had to be on a plane, since that is something very final and you can’t turn around and get something you have left behind. I would dream that I had not packed and that we had to leave in a few minutes and that I would have forgotten to pack. And usually worse I would have had all my favorite things with me and I would have forgotten to get enough boxes, or bags or suitcases. So here I am with my precious children’s books collection and the brown shelf they all fit on so nicely and I would be late for the plane and I had to decide what I was taking and what I would have to leave behind. It was always a very scary, upsetting, stressful situation. I know that whatever I left behind I would never see again. I knew that whatever was dropped would be lost forever. And the horror of leaving something behind, something that I night need someday and would not either be able to find, or that would not have the money to replace was terrifying to me. What if I got to the new place and needed the Ironing board, or the left handed set of golf clubs, or the bicycle?
What if? I never trusted my past, so why should I trust that the future would be ok?
This weekend I met my Half Sister Katie. I found out about her last year, after the death of my Aunt Camille. She was part of the final settlement of my Aunt’s Estate. My cousin, little Camille called me one evening and told me about her. I had not spoken to Camille since I was 10 (43 years). When she told me that my father had been married once before and that I had a half sister named Katie Smith was overwhelming. I have since started calling it the “wow” conversation. All I could say after she told me was “Wow”. It was pretty shocking.
As I have thought about it I think once dad mentioned that he had another daughter while he was driving me to school in Manitou. I remember us going around the blind curve that he always took too fast in his cop car, as he told me that I had a half sister and that she might be showing up because she was graduating soon. I think I would have been 12 or 13? I also realize as I write this that I often did not believe things dad told me because his wild life stories were the only thing I believed of him. His childhood growing up in the west and riding horses and being friends with indians. He broke his promise on so many other things, coming to see my school christmas choir concerts, or being home for dinner, or being home at all, that I could believe his wild cowboys stories, but not his stories that were grounded in any kind of reality. I remember once arguing with him and then calling him a liar when he told me that there were busses of people that went to the Denver Bronco games. We lived in Colorado Springs, an hour from Denver, but I told him I didn’t believe the story he made up of busses full of Broncos fans leaving on Sunday mornings for the games. He just calmly let me call him a liar. I believe the exact wording I used was “bull shit”. That moment when he conceded so easily I was sure was a turning point. He finally knew he couldn’t pull the wool over my eyes. What I know now is that he just decided to quit fighting me.
My sister Katie is a few years older than my sister Pat. She said that her mother was divorced from our dad by the time she was 9 months old. I assume dad got her pregnant and then did the right thing. Which is so often so far from the right thing it isn’t even funny.
Now, after meeting Katie, I realize I have a million questions. I also know that I will be able to ask her these questions. And I will believe her, as I never believed my father. I think I may have asked him a question or two but he would not answer me. Was he on a call, and had to get me close to school, so he could just drop me then get to work. Which he did a lot. I don’t think I even knew her name.
I think also when dad died I asked Pat if we should call her, but she said, no. That she was a bitch and that she wouldn’t talk to dad when he asked to talk to her. Then I remember that I found a page in mom’s address box written in dad’s hand writing. I kept it. It had Kathleen Smith written on it. On the back of the card is a note, she will or won’t call as she wants.
As I try to untangle what I knew and what I didn’t, as I grasp at memories and wonder at conversations that were real or imagined, I find that I am feeling lost and found at the same time.
Last night I had my “moving dream”. This time I had three bags. They were all packed and ready to go. I had to rummage through mom’s hutch, as I always do in my dreams, as I looked for my tarot cards and my psychic books. I put them under my arm and was ready to leave. (I also looked for that box of pot that I have somewhere, that I want to get rid of. but cannot remember where it is.) So yeah, a little stress. But the three bags were ready.
Dave, Pat, Katie?