To Ms. X. and all the "other" women,
It is time for you to know my story, my life as a daughter growing up without my father.
My oldest daughter is now 12.She’s a sixth grader.That resonates with me. I tell you that because that is how old I was when my life changed.My daughter gets good grades and she plays the clarinet in the school band. She enjoys finding treasures on the beach, just like I did as a young girl.Her life now is a lot like mine was then. I lived with my mom, my dad and my brothers, and we were living happily.We were a family.
These days I am a stay at home mom, just like my mom was then all those years ago.My mom took care of my brothers, and myself, and our home while my dad worked as a home builder.That morning in January of 1981, my dad got up, got ready for work and left the house as he always did, his words to my mom, “I might be a little late for dinner”.My dad did not come home that night.We had no idea where he was.With no choice or reason not to, my mom searched for my dad.We all did.My mom, my brothers and I were trying to find my dad and make sense of what was happening. So many questions, was my dad okay?Why wasn’t he coming home?At that time there was no internet searching, no cell phones, nothing to link us to his whereabouts.Was he alive?Was he dead?My mom called his co-workers, his friends, and his family.She drove to his workplace and to other spots he would frequent.She checked the bank accounts, the home phone bill, anything just to find him.What she would quickly unravel because of her own strength, determination and persistence, was that my dad had walked out on us.He left us.He was gone and without even a clue to us he left us for you.Come to find out you had been involved with my dad for some time fully knowing he had a family.How could my dad have done this?How could you do this?
Obviously, I needed my dad.I cried for my dad.I was his only daughter, the only girl of his four children.In my eyes for all of my twelve years growing up our family was a strong one.My dad took us on fun vacations, tossed the football with us in our front yard and taught me how to ride a bike, how to fish; all the things dads do.He was my dad and he was a good dad then. Without explanation, a huge part of my life was now gone.My dad was not dead but purposefully gone from me.Besides the obvious emotional toll of my dad just disappearing, our family did not have any income coming in.We had school tuition payments to make, and bill collectors calling requesting the money that we owed on our house, our phone and our electricity.Our life was turned upside down.It was turned upside down because of you.You chose to pursue my dad.You stood by him when he made the decision to abandon us that day.Instead of boarding the plane to Florida with him you could have said this isn’t right. Tell your family. But you didn’t. You thought of yourself.Why didn’t you think of me?
One month later, when my dad did reappear we were confused.He was back in our home.Was he back home with us now?Did he miss me?Did he love me?Where had he been?Not once ever did I get the answers to those simple questions. This was not the happy life I once had.My dad would selfishly come and go as he pleased.He did not live with me again.He lived with you.I only knew this because we had to work so hard just to find him.He didn’t tell me anything.My dad lied, cheated and did whatever he could to not tell me where he was living or what he was doing.Without any other options, I called you to talk to him.You slammed down the phone time and time again. We knocked on your door because we knew our dad was inside.You didn’t answer.Why didn’t you answer? Why didn’t you tell him to answer the door? We were just children.
As the years went on my dad was not in my life.My mom raised me. She worked very hard.Thankfully she put me first as most parents do.She made sure I stayed in the same home, the same schools, kept the same friends and lifestyle. I am forever grateful for my mom and her amazing strength. After he walked out, my dad missed every important event of my life and didn’t care how I was growing up.My own father did not care at all about me.That hurt a lot.He missed all the highlights of my life, my graduation from high school and college, my wedding, and my building my own family.This will always be with me - Forever.How could a man who has four children and raised them for years not even care?My dad went on living with you as if we had never even existed.I wondered all the time, did you or my dad think of me all those years?
My dad died recently.I only know that because of an online internet search I did one month after he actually died.With more detective work I found my dad was sick for months and not of sound mind. Turns out months passed and still you selfishly neglected to call me.I missed my only chance in the world to have peace with him and with what happened 34 years ago.I couldn’t even properly grieve the death of my own father. You took that away from me to.You chose to share with the world publically in his obituary that my dad had died only mentioning yourself, your son and your granddaughter.You did not mention the years he did have with me as my dad.Those years were all I had with my dad, and once again you thought so little of me that you didn’t even acknowledge that.
Now he is gone and I don’t have to wonder where he is.Will he call me? Does he love me?Those worries can be put behind me now.It’s funny how thoughts that once consumed me are now my peace.I did realize long ago that as far as I was concerned my dad was gone.Over the years that became clear.I will never understand though why he abandoned me the way that he did.Why he only thought of himself and not of his children.The ones he brought into this world.Now my dad is gone from your life too.You though have the benefit of memories shared with my dad.I on the other hand have very little memories with my own father.It didn’t have to be this way.
Signed, Rachel – Ray’s daughter