Logo, part 1
Logo, part 2
Rocky Mountain High
  Wednesday   September 17, 1997




The Usual Suspects

Just a short entry tonight, kids -- I'm going out of town tomorrow and I still haven't packed yet. Much as I'd love to spend the time composing my usual lengthy entry for you, I'm not going to do it because I can't wear the entry when I get to Colorado. Nothing personal.

I'm taking Zoe to see her grandfather, known to me as "Dad." He's only seen her once, when he came out here when she was about eight months old. Now that she's walking and (sort of) talking, she's far more entertaining and I want him to get in on the fun. I also want to see the old man myself. He's 75 now and I get the feeling he's not going to be around too much longer, so I don't want to regret not making the trip when I could.

My dad and I have a distant relationship, but it's intimate compared to his with the rest of the family. My parents divorced twenty years ago under ugly circumstances and for a long stretch of time I was the only one who stayed in contact with him. Part of that is because I lived with him off and on during the times he and my mother were separated and so was closer to him, and the rest of it is because I didn't let my mother's negativity toward him affect me. I played the unlikely role of Peacemaker for a long, long time. I didn't like it.

My brothers and sister cut off all contact with him after the divorce, and that lasted for quite a while. During that period I was his sole source of information on the rest of his kids and theirs on him. After much finagling and not a little bit of lying, I finally managed to get all of us together for a breakfast on one of his trips out here to see me about ten years ago. Believe me, it was quite a feat. Since then my brothers have kept in touch with him but my sister hasn't. My mom's brainwashing really took hold with her. In fact, it's a little bit strange to hear her talk about him because it's my sister's voice but my mom's words.

Complicating matters is the fact that my dad is divorced again and has custody of his two daughters from that marriage. They're young -- 11 and 13, I think -- and they desperately want to have a relationship with their brothers and sister in California. Unfortunately, we're not quite so keen on it. My sister dismisses them with scorn, my brothers are probably the nicest to them but are complete flakes about writing and calling them, and I... I try to keep my distance. Part of that is the fear that my dad wants me to take them when he can't care for them anymore. He hinted at that once, long ago, and I hinted "no" right back at him. That was before I'd even met Beth, long before I was in any position to raise a couple of kids. Now that I am a father, I still don't want his kids. Besides, their mother is perfectly capable of raising them, no matter how much my dad hates her. Basically: Not My Problem.

Also, to put it bluntly, I don't really like them. They're brats, they're spoiled, and I really don't feel any family connection to them. I know in my mind they're my half-sisters, but I don't feel the blood at all. I have no history with them, I've seen them maybe 10 times in their lives and spent maybe a total of 30 days with them, and my relationship with my father has become so distant that I barely feel connected to him, let alone to his kids whom I don't really know. They're like second cousins you hear stories about but have only met once and didn't get along with.

Despite all that, Zoe and I are catching a flight to Colorado tomorrow morning. We're staying on for a couple of days and then will be scooting right back home again. It should be boring beyond belief. My dad's small-town through and through, and everywhere he's lived has been something straight out of Li'l Abner. I grew up in that for 13 years, but now I'm a City Boy and it's hard for me to go back to it.

The last time I went to see him he lived in a wide spot on the road in Wyoming called Hannah. I spent hours driving around town in search of anything interesting to look at. I eventually parked outside the mine to listen to the blasting going on underground. Now he's in Dove Creek, which I'm sure will be as bucolic as it sounds. It's so small that we'll be flying Southwest to Albequerque, then switching to a two-engine commuter flight to get a bit further north, then driving a couple hundred miles the rest of the way to get there. It may not be the edge of the world, but you can see it from there.

This space will be on hiatus until I get back. Look for the next entry on Sunday or Monday, when I'll be filling you in on all the ::yawn:: excitement that transpires.





Copyright 1997
Chuck Atkins