Sunday, 5 May 2013


I've been neglecting you all lately, haven't I?

I'm sorry.

I kinda lost my drive to look at the humour in things around me lately and instead I sat in my kiddie pool of self pity and misery. This shit happens sometimes. It just creeps up out of the blue and kicks you in the vagina so hard that it knocks you to the ground. Sometimes, it's just easier to stay lying there.

To be honest, I've been a little preoccupied with things at home. But I think I'm ready now to share my personal revelation on this very public forum. 

I lost my dad.

I didn't lose him to death. I didn't misplace him. I lost the dad I thought I had for the past 41, nearly 42 years.

In a sense, I guess he has died inside me. A tad melodramatic, I know, but that's how I feel.

Around the time of my 18th birthday, I found my mum collapsed on the lounge room floor wailing in what I thought was pain. My dad had just left. He didn't say anything to me, or my brother or 11 year old sister. He just walked out.

Apparently, it was for the best. Apparently, it was because he was having trouble living with post-traumatic stress from being sent to Vietnam. Apparently, it was because he sat in his shed with his pre-amnesty army gun thinking of taking us out. 

So he left and moved into a 'Men's House', where other like-minded men lived. He would visit Mum weekly as if nothing was different. My mum also accepted these visits as if nothing was different. A married couple living apart while the husband sought the help he needed. The Vietnam War did this to some men.

For years, I felt sorry for him. I thought Mum was better off without him, but I did feel sad and angry that this is what the war did to our family. My sister was so young - the same age as my daughter is now - and I can't even imagine what it would feel like inside a young girl's mind when this sort of thing happens. A young girl whose role as 'Daddy's Princess' was abruptly cut short. I on the other hand, was a bitchy 18 year old.

My dad would continue to visit Mum weekly and even took her for the occasional weekend away. She would return home optimistic that things were getting better and that he may come home. He visited more frequently when she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and had a short time to live.

I was given Dad's phone number at the Men's House with instructions not to call unless in an absolute emergency, and then to ask for him by name, not 'Dad', to never say it was 'his daughter' calling, and never leave a message. It was just easier while he lived their with so many other men, he said.

When Mum died, he was the grieving widower. 

Seven years after her death, we learned, by pure accident, that he had a lady-friend. 

10 years after her death, we learned that he had been living with this lady-friend for more than 20 years.

There was never a 'Men's House'. 

He never intended to come home to his wife.

Two weeks ago, I learned that the 'joke' my sister and I shared about him having another family somewhere was, in fact, true.

My dad had given me a copy of his Will. 

Just a standard stock Will. Nothing important in there really, he had said. Nothing to pass on. Only written instructions about the funeral, he had said. Wouldn't even bother looking at it. Just file it away until I fall off my perch.

I decided two weeks ago, as I was reaching up to stow it in My Cupboard Of Things That Need To Be Filed Eventually cupboard, I would have a look at this Will.

Some words caught me off guard. 


Step Children

He was right. There really wasn't much for him to leave behind. But this is not my issue. I seriously don't care. Seriously.

I had realised at that very moment that this man I had called 'Dad' was little more than a stranger. An imposter. A fraud.

I felt sick thinking I was a part of a game. The winner had already been decided and the rules manipulated to suit just this one person.

Humiliated. Deceived. Manipulated. Betrayed. Abandoned.

The 'Men's House' was her house.
The other people at this house were her kids.

Looking back on the past 20...30...actually 40 years, some things are suddenly clearer. Some of the stories are now pricked with holes. My mum went to her grave not knowing a thing.

I have learned that in the eyes of this other family, the eyes of his spouse and of his step children, we are not nice people. We only go to him for financial help, never invite their family over to our family's festivities, never want to visit them at their home, and have never accepted them into our lives in all these years. Or at least, that's what they've been told.

Years ago, my Dad told a lie, and had to tell more lies to hide the first one. 

As I stare blankly at this computer screen I feel stupid. My entire world as I knew it feels very different today. I had backed this man up millions of times, defended his actions, his early departures, his depression, put the gaps in his anecdotes down to ageing and memory loss, and saw this man's life as one of the consequences of being conscripted to the Vietnam War.


This is not the whole story. Not by a long shot. But it's the part I want to share for now.

So I have been a bit preoccupied with this revelation and my thoughts of how to handle this situation. And I think it is unfair that I have to. I'm angry and hurt and I'm mourning the loss of another parent.


  1. Oh Lisa. I'm so sorry you are going through this.
    It all sounds very complicated, very painful and something that you will get through because you are stronger than you feel right now.
    If there is anything I can do, even to offer my shoulder, you know where I am xx

    1. Thank you Phenomenal Woman. I know I can get through it. It just feels very weird right now. My sister had realised all this stuff way before me & maybe I had denied it until now.

  2. I can't get over how crazy this is. It's one of those things where, if I saw it in a movie, I'd say it was too unrealistic, you know? You do what's best for YOU. Don't make excuses for him. He was supposed to be the adult.

    1. There are so many tiny stories that I now look back on & say WTF? I'm sure he's not a bad person, and I think he didn't mean for it to go this far. But it did. Now it's a far-fetched movie.
      Thank you for commenting.

  3. Oh love, I'm so sorry your suspicions are all confirmed. I'm here, much love xoxox

    1. Thanks Shell.
      My life as a sitcom is starting to be true.

  4. As much as we've talked about it, it was tough to see it written. I can only imagine how it felt to type it. But, I'm proud of you for writing about it, and it can only help take us in the next direction.

    1. Debs, thank you. If you ever want to write your part to this story I'll put it on here. Your feelings & memories are yours & are probably quite different to mine.

  5. OMG sweetie! I can't even imagine what you all went through/go through! You have to remember you're not to blame!! HE was the adult. HE was the one that was suppose to be responsible! Don't let him or the crap have this power over you! You got this!! Drink some Moscato with me (virtually of course because you're in fricking Australia and I'm in fricking Alaska)! We'll swap "war stories" about our crazy damn parents!! *so sorry lady*

    1. I am more than happy to come to Alaska to drink with you. You know that!

      Thanks Meccala. x

  6. OMG! That is unimaginable! Is it better your mum never knew? She avoided the pain but he got away with it! I'd be tempted to blow up his whole world and go tell his "other" family the truth! Good luck! That is definitely mind blowing!!

    1. I have a letter I wrote on the night I read the will. I admit I was quietly soused. My husband thought it might be best to wait before sending it. Read it sober & edit it a bit. But it will be sent & it is addressed & written for both this man & his woman.
      Is it better my mum never knew? ...Yes... & no. I don't know. One of her old friends said Mum had questioned it, but probably like my sister & I 'joked' about it. If she didn't, she certainly knows now. I believe in that kind of stuff.

  7. Thats some serious shit there. I have no advice, no words of wisdom, and my shoulders carry too much weight to offer them up for you to cry on. But I feel for you, and I am sorry for your new reality. Sometimes life just sucks.

    1. It does suck. But I feel better for writing it. Thanks Bek.

  8. Oh wow that's a lot to have to deal with. I'm sorry your Dad isn't who you thought he was.