In Post WWII Japan, my father was an Army Intelligence Officer when he met my mother.
He and my mother actually had a 10 year loving relationship!
In 1955, after my mother was pregnant with me, my father got tuberculosis and was sent back to the United States. Back then, tuberculosis had a poor prognosis and my mother thought she would never see my father again. My father promised he would return to her. When I was born, my mother and I lived with my Obaachan. The notes on the back of the pictures of me in my June 5, 2016 blog were, I believe, written for him.
My father was cured of tuberculosis and returned, as he promised, to my mother and we were a family. I must have been about 6-8 months old when he returned. He was back with my mother only months before she suffered from an ileus and died. I doubt these few months gave me a chance for any real “bonding” with him – nor him for me.
I don’t know the details of him leaving me with my Obaachan, but he did. He returned about a year later, married to a Japanese woman. Again, I don’t know the details, but from sketchy information I got from my uncle and aunts (with whom I also reconnected in 2005), I believe that my father’s wife did not want the child of the woman my father had apparently really loved.
My next contact with my father was that Thanksgiving night in 2004. (Blog Post June 12, 2016). After the call, he and I communicated by email for several months and in April, 2005, I went to Japan to meet him. My first meeting was in the lobby of the hotel in which I was staying. His face lit up, as did mine, when we saw each other and instantly knew we had found the right person. We chatted over coffee and I enjoyed the visit. Afterwards, we met three more times. Each time we met, we shared a little more. He didn’t tell me much about his past and he was vague responding to my questions about my mother, his life with her, what had happened and how we were separated. In a few comments, he vaguely intimated that his leaving me was not easy for him. To this day, the details of exactly what happened remain shrouded in mystery and I will never know.
I also met my father’s wife of then over 40 years. She was with my father at all times. She was coldly polite in that way that makes it clear she wanted nothing to do with me. I wasn’t invited to their home.
I shared with my father a little of my life. He was genuinely interested. He was 80 but his mind was sharp. He learned I was a lawyer and that he had a grandson. I already knew that my father was an author, having written two books that I know about. He had been in the Japanese movie business, and had some bit roles in several movies, although most of his work involved Japanese-English translation and production. He drove us around Tokyo. We were cordial and friendly. I wouldn’t say that our interactions during our meals were “father-daughter warm,” but they were nice. He was really nice to me.
Despite my elation to meet my real father, this was not like a “reunion” because I had no lost relationship, but I would look at him and think, “this is my father; I have a father.” During these four meetings, I grew to like this man who was my real father. During my visit, I began to wish I could have a relationship with this man, perhaps not a father-daughter relationship, but perhaps friends or acquaintances. I didn’t expect it to all happen during this first visit to Japan – I could wait until after I came home, continuing to email and perhaps several visits to Japan.
At our last meeting, when it was time to say goodbye, my father gave me a hug. This was an extended, warm hug. Genuinely warm. And finally, I cried.
I didn't know that was the last time I would see him.
TODAY’S HOW TO
I wonder if 3 or 4 months of my father being around could have built any real emotional bond to be “betrayed.” As I look at it now it seems like this may have always been more the IDEA of my “father abandoned me.” Perhaps if my growing up with my adoptive parents, particularly my adoptive father, hadn’t made me so desperate to escape, I wouldn’t have needed a rescuer, or someone to blame for my life. I just don’t know. HURTS don’t have to be real, or sensible, to still be powerful, do they? I do know that even if today I might “understand” or “forgive” my father, I cannot undo the experience of the past and its past building up of emotional and mental circuits which haven’t served me well. Again, I’m lucky. I’ve somehow managed to re-do circuits, for today and tomorrow, not the past. Still, I accept that this will always be, at least, a little gray smudge on my inner me. But I’m not going to worry about that.