I hesitate to begin this journey. Reliving the moments I had with my father. I am frustrated and angry because it's so much easier to feel those emotions than allow myself to feel the deep sadness that rests below the surface.
I don't have any memories of my father from my childhood. He wasn't in my life. Growing up, I never stopped to wonder about who he was or why he wasn't here. I didn't even know his name. I had managed to get a copy of my birth certificate when I was around 14 years old, and in the space where the father was supposed to sign were typed words saying "Mother does not wish to state..."
Not only had this woman robbed me of having a mother, but she obviously didn't want me to have a father, either.
I recall, after I reunited with my mother, she had been vague about my dad. For some reason, this only fed my curiosity about him. It led me to pick up the phone and call someone that I never intended to speak to again. My very first foster mother.
We talked for a few minutes. She was surprised that I had called her, as I left her home 12 years earlier and never tried to contact her again. Something in my heart told me she was the person to call, so I did.
To this day, I am in awe of the fact that she was able to tell me my Dad's full name and where he worked at the time I was in her home. He was never listed as a custodial parent, and his name is no where on my court records, so I was shocked she had so much information about him.
I thought I had gotten through the conversation without having to discuss that thing with her, until she said, "You know, Tammy...those people brainwashed you." I grit my teeth hard, and fought back angry tears. All I could muster was one word. "ok."
She went on and on about how I was wrong about her son, and I had to cut the conversation short. I hastily thanked her for speaking with me, and hung up.
I take pride in being pretty resilient, and after a few moments, I was able to shake off the emotions that threatened to overcome me, and focus on the real task at hand.
I looked at the slip of paper that had his work information on it. I took out a phone book and looked up the company that my foster mother had given me. It was in there. The tiny font stood out from everything else on the page. The phone number stared back at me and I knew I had a fight on my hands.
I mean, who would remember a man from over a decade ago? I pictured having to explain myself to a long line of people before someone, anyone may have some information for me. I wasn't even sure if they could legally give me any details about him, if they had any.
I dialed the number. My stomach churned. The phone rang. And rang. Then, voicemail.
It was a Thursday afternoon. I thought it was weird no one was there, and I blurted out a quick message after the tone. I recall saying something along the lines of, "Hi, this may sound strange, but my name is Tammy, and I was told there was a man by the name of Lee Bennett working there. I know it has been a long time but if he is no longer working there, maybe you can help me find him? I'm his daughter....thank you."
I hung up the phone and decided to go out and hang with my friends for a bit.
A few days later, that following Monday, I walked into my home. I was living with a foster mother who I had lived with on and off for the past 10 years. She'd kick me out, but would always take me back when I had nowhere to go.
She was a Sicilian woman named Agnese. This woman was larger than life. A hot blooded Italian, her voice could be heard throughout our neighborhood. We had nicknamed her Old Yeller, because man, that woman had a set of pipes! She was a tough old lady. I didn't know it at the time, but as much as she scared me, I later learned to hold her in a very high regard. You will learn more about Agnese, but for now, let me tell you the events that occurred when I walked into her home.
"OH Taymee...OH Taymee! You wonta believea me!! Oh I hava miracle!! " She throws herself at my feet with tears in her eyes she holds my arms and says "I hava the besta gifta for you and I canna give it to you!" Seriously, I thought she was just acting nuts. I had no idea what the hell was wrong with her. I just looked at her and said "Huh?"
"Oh Taymee! I gotta the best phone call and I canna tella you! I want to so bad!! I just canna not and it rips my hearta open!" I look at her, literally unphased. "Ok, Agnese. Well you just tell me when you figure out how, ok?" I pulled away from her grasp, leaving her on her knees crying on the floor. Now, again...she was over the top dramatic, so this was not exactly unusual for her. I figured maybe she was up to something, but was so preoccupied with all the events happening in my life, that I didn't have the energy to focus on her craziness.
I went into my bedroom and shut the door behind me. The phone book laid open with the number staring back at me. I decided now was a good time to call again and see what I could find out about my father.
I dialed the number, less nervous and more focused this time. "Moving & Storage, how can I help you?" a woman's voice said. I grabbed a pen and paper and said "Hi, umm this may sound strange, but I left a voice mail and my name is Tammy. Is there a Lee Bennett that works...." Before I could finish my sentence, the lady gasps and says, "YES! Yes Lee works here, Tammy!! HE'S RIGHT HERE NEXT TO ME!!!"