"Greater things are believed of those who are absent." Tacitus
I didn’t know much about my father until I was 18 years old. I knew who is was, but his life was a mystery. I lived most of my life up until that point, where my mother was home with us, and Daddy came home every two weeks. Seemed normal to us. It had always been that way. He would arrive on a Friday and leave on Sunday morning on alternating weekends. He drove a Packard for a while, then switched over to an old Ford Ranchero, that had burn damage. I can remember one time he came in a Cadillac and said it was his boss’s car.
As we understood it, Daddy worked in the oil business and traveled. There had been 5 of us boys, Mike had passed away at age six when I was three. We moved a lot when I was younger and the reason had always been suggested that the moves were to get closer to where Mike was being treated for his ailments. Still, Daddy came every other weekend. He paid the bill at the grocery store where we shopped, he might take us to a restaurant, mostly he sat in his rocker, went for walk with us boys and smoked his cigars.
He told us he was 65 years old. He looked it. He was in good health for a 65-year-old who smoked cigars. The thing was, he was always 65. When I was 18, my mother decided to tell us the story. Daddy wasn’t 65 and he didn’t travel. He lived in a small town in Oklahoma where he was a lawyer. Our mother decided to tell us the story because they were getting married. Turns out, he was 67 when I was born. He was now 85. They were getting married because his first wife had died.
We weren’t stupid kids. We had our suspicions. My oldest brother knew. He had followed him back to Oklahoma and found his law office. A lot of things crystalized for me, my brother Tommy and I had taken him to a conference in New Mexico. We dropped him off and went exploring. We came back early and he was sitting in the hotel lobby with a woman who looked a lot like our brother David. Turns out, it was his daughter. She was the same age as our mother.
The story of my fa