The Women in my Fathers Life - Paula

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Reflective memories of being abandoned -

Submitted: September 01, 2014

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Submitted: September 01, 2014



The Women in my Fathers Life


When a parent remarries, we as children of a previous marriage need to make adjustments as well. We need to try and form some sort of civil if not a loving relationship with the new being in their life.  I’m trying to adjust to woman number four in my fathers’ life. There may have been more than four in his time; but there have been four to date who have come into and one way or another, for better or for worse, somehow shaped my character.



My first real memories are of being driven to school in the back seat of some non-descript vehicle with Paula at the wheel. She listened to news radio and snapped her gum while she drove. I don’t recall much else specifically about her; but, oh how I loved the way she snapped her gum. It was a harsh, impolite sound but to me it was fascinating and something I tried to mimic unsuccessfully over and over again as a child is want to do.

There are other vague and fuzzy recollections; not of Paula herself, but of my days during her scant three or four year rein in my fathers’ life. Our simple two bedroom, first floor apartment on the beach was decorated in dark, unflattering colors and patterns; circa 1970 décor du jour. My room, which was filled with an eclectic mix of muted color glass orbs suspended in rough, scratchy fish net and stuffed baby alligators in unrealistic poses; possibly procured from some fanciful place they had visited; faced the busy boulevard and the dark blue ocean beyond. The dancing minstrel pixies costumed in crimson and forest green floppy hats and curling pointy toed shoes mounted on black velvet were proudly displayed on the living room walls. Week-end mornings were for climbing into their bed, giggling and snuggling between them; then eating breakfast together at the scarred Formica table with chrome legged chairs.

Sometimes, pleasant memories trickle in and flash through my sub-conscience like an old 8MM film being run in slow motion. In my mind’s eye I can see myself running with our dogs Lady and Bubba, playing at the beach with various long forgotten friends and neighbors or learning to ride my first big girl bike with the banana seat and sissy bar. If I squeeze my eyes tight, I can visualize the miniscule grassy back yard with its brick bar-b-que pit my father painstakingly built with his own rough hands or the empty lot next door littered with sand and gravel swept from the sea where I would zoom around recklessly on my bicycle.

Having been blessed with the smoothly warm and pleasurable experiences any typical child might call to mind; I wasn’t ready for the wreckage that lay ahead.

 I was unprepared for the anguish, the uncertainty, the fear that clearly lined my fathers’ handsome face that warm summer night when he came to retrieve me from the babysitters’ second floor apartment. I didn’t realize it then, but it was a night of upheaval and change; a turning point if you will. It was the night she left, never to be seen by either of us again. I remember him moving through the apartment in a frenzied state, opening closets and drawers looking for any shred of evidence that would validate her existence in our lives. There was none.

The next day or maybe several days later, unbeknownst to my dad, I also searched for validation. Upon realizing her favorite Tom Jones albums and her prized charcoal pencil set which had been secreted under their bed only to be coveted but never touched by my sticky childs hands had in fact mysteriously vanished, my own youthful fears were substantiated. She was really gone.

I was six years old and thought Paula was my mother and number one in my fathers’ life. Many years later, I’d learn she was neither my mother nor number one in either of our lives and we obviously were not number one in hers.


I search for Paula for more than 30 years - I found her obituary 2 years ago - she had only died 6 months earlier but those six months crushed me. I had lost my opportunity for closure. 

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