It was a warm summer night, I was 9 or 10 years old and I heard a knock on the back door. Mom told me to answer it and as I walked towards the door, I noticed a heavy set man, breathing heavily standing there through the screen door, holding a cigStettin in his hand. I asked him who he was and he said "I am your Father"
Can you imagine my surprise? I'd never seen this man before and the story I was told was my father didn't know Tony and I even existed but someday he would. Tony is my twin brother. I quickly quipped back "I don't have a father" and slammed the inside door shut, stunned and angry.
My mother harshly corrected me as she lifted herself from her chair, walking towards the back door. "Tammi, open the door up, this man is your father, and has come to meet you and your brother, don't be rude!" I thought I was going to vomit. I was confused, afraid and stunned. If she knew he was coming why didn’t she tell us. Mom was known for awful surprises.
I don't remember much about that visit, except that I was very quiet. I remember he gave Tony and I each a book. They were Disney books that had a collection of stories.
We would spend time with him and our step brother over the course of the the next 9-10 months. He usually put us to work painting a basement or area, cleaning up a yard, taking trash out, etc. Once he took us to the New York State Fair. I don't remember enjoying being with him, but I did become used to him and he got us away from Mom for a little awhile. He was loud and short tempered, smoked alot, ate a lot, drank a lot and cussed a lot. Still, I’d gotten use to him and Tony seemed to soak up his attention.
A couple of weeks before Easter he announced to Tony and I that he was taking us to church on Easter Sunday. I knew Easter as bunnies, baskets and jelly beans. I'd only seen church TV from time to time and didn't know how Church and Easter correlated.
Anyway, he made a big deal of it, he took Tony and I clothes shopping at Chappels Department Store. He bought me a beautiful yellow, frillly laced, poofy, Easter dress, with all of the accessories. Long white satin gloves, white tights, patent leather shoes, a Easter hat and small purse. I didn't recall ever having anything so pretty.
Easter morning came and I was full of excitement. I dressed myself, oh how the tights were twisted and itchy. The shoes were very stiff and the Easter hat was three times the size of my little head. I didn't care. I felt beautiful for the first time in my life. I came downstairs to show my mother only to discover she was not awake yet.
I pranced outside to the back porch. I would wait there for him, because he would surely be there soon. At this age although I could read a clock, I had no concept of time, so I stood and waited for him. I decided while waiting on the porch, that today would be the day I called him Daddy, instead of Mike. "Daddy, I could love him thought, I already did!"
I waited and waited and waited, frequently checking the clock inside the house. I refused to sit down on the concrete porch at first, not wanting to wrinkle my dress, eventually my little legs became tired and my feet began to swell in my new shoes, so I relented. I waited more and as I did my heart sank further. I became afraid, what if something happened to him while he was driving. Then, I became angry that he was late. Doesn't he know how important this is to Tony and I. I was used to waiting for things and people that didn’t show up. I wondered in my little heart how this would end.
My heart returned to despair and the earlier joy of feeling beautiful wore off and the words of my constant bullies telling me I was ugly, came flooding back like a familiar friend. The excitement about going to church faded as I obsessively kept going in the house to read the time on the clock, blinking through my tears, wondering if I was reading the time right. Maybe it's me, maybe I heard the wrong time. Maybe he's late picking up my step-brother. He'll be here, I thought. I vacillated between hope and despair.
Eventually, I decided to call him. Fear gripped my heart. I do not know why, except I had a feeling that he was not coming and it was my fault. Strange for a 9/10 year old to think along these lines, but I did. I picked up the rotary phone, dialed his number and waited as it rang, curling the cord around my tiny fingers. It felt like it rang forever!
He answered and I said, "Mike (Daddy) where are you, Tony and I are waiting for you to take us to church?" He said "Tammi, I left Easter baskets at Sue's house for you and Tony, I'm not coming. The truth is Tammi your mother is a tramp and your father could be anyone, but its not me!" Before I could say anything, he hung up. The silence on the line was deafening. My mother now sitting in her chair, smoking a cigarette, tattered from the night before's drinking and prescription pill concoction was evident on her face.
The devastation exploded within me, but it was rage that came out of my mouth. I told her what he said and without asking her if it was true, because she was a skilled liar and taught me how to as well, I screamed his words at her, burst into tears, and ran up to my room slamming the door.
I was crushed. I wondered what I'd done wrong. Afterall, Mike wanted kids, lots of them. If I would have been a better child, maybe he would have adopted me and Tony. He was always more partial to Tony than me. He wanted sons to carry on his name. Why didn't he take Tony, and just leave me?
I would’ve gone with him and been 2nd best. At least with Mike, I wasn't hungry or being physically abused as often as with Mom. I didn't have to worry about him threatening to commit suicide during a Thorazine-Alcohol manic episode. The questions swirled, the rage simmered, the pain ran so deep I could barely breath. I used to self harm (beat my legs and bang my head) before but even that wasn’t working now.
For the next several years, I had a recurring dream around Easter every year. This dream was terrifying and it was about my Father, My Daddy, Mike trying to kill me! This wasn't the first time I was tormented by night terrors! It was the first time they were based in a real situation that I could identify! I carried this devastation with me for over 22 years.
Every year around Easter time, I would (internally) emotionally breakdown. The memories would flood back anytime I saw an Easter Bunny, Easter Basket, Easter Dress, etc...... I was literally tormented!
One year when I turned 18/19 years old, I was watching the Jerry Lewis telethon with my mother at her apartment. They announced my fathers name and said he on behalf of his Real Estate brokerage were donating 15 thousand dollars to Jerry's kids. It may have been more or less, I don't recall exactly, but I do know it was A LOT of money. When I saw him on the TV, I wanted to scream, instead I froze. My mother always said after he left us that Easter, that someday when I grew up he would see me on the TV or in the newspaper and regret what he’d done. Seeing him on TV giving money away when we stood in food bank lines and I was dumpster diving at the local bread store dumpster, made me writhe with disgust for him.
This brought up a intensity of emotion with me, I still cannot adequately describe to this day. I looked at my mother and told her I was going to settle this once and for all. In the following weeks, I found out where his home was and where his real estate offices were. I drove by them all. One day I mustered the courage to go to the office that I decided he would be at. I have no idea how I made that decision, I just know I did.
I drove up, parked my car, took a deep breath and walked in. At the end of a long hallway, office doors on the right, a set of up and down stairs on the left, I saw an office filled with smoke. I walked back, acknowledging no one. I leaned over his desk and said something to the effect of :
“Remember Me, Mike? I'm your daughter, Tammi. I have a twin brother, who is your son, Tony! Remember him? You told me my mother was a tramp and anyone could be my father, but that you were not, when I was 9 years old. I'm here today to settle this. We are going to go get a blood test and it will prove and you will admit that you are our Father, or I will go to your home located at (address omitted) and tell your wife and children what you have done. By the way your a grandfather too.”
In the following weeks as we waited for the test results my Dad, introduced us to his family and we began the relationship building process. We gained a half brother and half sister, two step sisters and a step brother, and the original step brother I met at a child. As you can guess the test results did come back and were 99.98% positive (as positive as they can be) that he was and is our father.
I was in relationship with my Dad from 1990 (ish) until 2012 when he died. I can honestly say that I am grateful that I barged into his office that day and demanded justice! I did it to prove paternity, that my mother wasn't lying (about that, anyway) and largely to make him know how much Tony and I suffered because he denied paternity of us! I got all of that and more although, none of it brought peace or healing.
I operated from that rejection and the lie that came with it. Having a Dad who didn’t deny me didn’t change the pain. The belief that I didn't matter and that I was never enough indirectly or directly caused a lot of destruction in my life. It started with Mom, but the blow from my dad, sealed it for me. I’d attract men who were selfish and emotionally unavailable, always blaming me for everything. I’d lie about who I was, hoping I could keep the cover story and feel some love even if it was fake. I would have many abortions, self destruct in many ways and always, always believe I was one step away from being found out!
I became a Christian in 2004, and the Lord healed my heart, deepened and restored my relationship with my biological father in a way I never thought possible. The love of THE FATHER, overcomes any pain and wounding. But it wasn't instantaneous, it took time, obedienc, prayer and patience.
I was rejected by my earthly Father, and by many other people, but I was never rejected by my Heavenly Father! Neither are You!
God gave me the ability to see my Dad as a person, not just the one who rejected us. One who had suffered deeply himself and who did love me, eventually. I was given the Grace to forgive him as God forgave me. There were many Daddy experiences I missed because he wasn’t in my life as a child, but the Lord redeemed the time for us too, so that when my Dad died I had no regrets and no pain! I operate from acceptance in Christ not in rejection of man. This isn’t a self-willing act, it’s a work of the Holy Spirit.
You may not have an traumatic Easter story, but what has the enemy taken/killed in you, that you are trusting God to restore? He will do it. Trust Him.
Today, Easter is my ABSOLUTE MOST FAVORITE HOLIDAY, because it reminds me of what my Heavenly Father did for me to RESTORE me to Him.
Jesus defeated everything that keeps you and I from an abundant life. Let what needs to die, die and let the resurrection power of Christ rise up in you for what God has for you!
You are His Beloved Daughter/Son, Planned, Wanted, Accepted And NO-THING done to you or by you can snatch you from his hand!!