The hobo record club post from earlier today reminded me of the fact that my mother dislikes Tom Waits. For some reason that fact reminded me of this old post about my mother and her parents:
Missed Connections (From May 2006)
When he left he didn’t say that it was going to be forever, he was literally to get a pack of cigarettes. The pack of smokes disappearance hadn’t become a cliché yet and neither had the single mom but that’s what his wife became when he left her with the two little girls. Luckily she had always worked; she wasn’t blind to his drinking and irresponsibility and knew that it was up to her to provide for the girls, to her, his leaving was one less problem.
For the younger of the two girls he was never even a memory, she was still an infant, but the older one knew he had been there, she remembered his name and his face and she waited for him to come back. When she was old enough to understand that he wouldn’t be coming back she resolved to find him on her own, but he wouldn’t be so easy to locate. There are a lot of people in Queens and all that she remembered was that he was tall with dark hair but if she heard his voice she would know, so she said hello to every tall dark haired man she saw but never head him say hello back. When the mother and the two girls moved east out onto Long Island she could only hope that he would come looking for her. He didn’t, but she found him in an unexpected place just around the corner, or if you wanted to take a shortcut, just over the back fence. But instead of being the tall dark haired voice she remembered, he arrived in the body of a self confident 18 year old boy, just a little older than her. It wasn’t HIM, but it was good enough, he wasn’t about to leave and they conspired to marry and stay together forever, what better way to do this than with a child. These were the best laid plans of my mother and father.
I’ll never know if it was because he knew he was filling the role, or he just did it because he wanted her to be happy, but in time my father decided to pick up the search where his wife left off. It took some help and some time but he found the long lost father not far from where she had been saying hello to strangers as a child. He hadn’t been that hard to find, you just had to know where to look. It took some convincing (and maybe a bribe), but he agreed to come home to see the girls and his grandchildren (after me, there had been two more). I’m told I was present for this reunion but I don’t remember him or what my mother said to him. I just know that there were a few more meetings that followed before he disappeared again, this time he did a better job of hiding.
As the years passed, her would be father became more and more of a mystery until he was more rumor than fact. According to sources he was still seen around for many years after the last time she saw but eventually he was more rumor than fact. Was he doing well? Was he homeless? Was he even alive? When her mother passed away my mom hoped he would show up, if he was still alive this was his last best chance. He didn’t make it.
Somewhere, around the same time his wife passed away, my mystery grandfather also ceased to be. There was no announcement of his passing and no one from our family was ever told. My mother and her sister, no doubt, knew that he was gone but it wasn’t confirmed until recently. Upon hearing the news my mother called my father, who she divorced many years ago.
“I don’t know who else to call. You were the only one who helped me find him so I wanted to let you know that he’s gone…but no one knows exactly when or where, as always he’s a mystery”
-“Well’ if you want I can help you find him again, at least he can’t get away this time”