Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Brick Wall Within

Shalimar Club California 1945
Recently, I was looking for a record relating to my father, Robert McCoy Walker, and after checking post after post and not finding what I wanted, I finally had the brilliant idea of just checking my tags.  I knew there wouldn't be many so that should make it easy.

What????  Nothing showed up.  In over two year of blogging, there is not one single tag for my father.  I have his father and his father's father, even two of his uncles, but no tags for him.  But I remember writing a blog post about my experience searching for his military files.  Found it!  "Government Efficiency at Its Best"  That's interesting . . . I did not tag him and, in fact, even removed his name from the letter.  As I read over it, I realized that the main point of the post was to document the process I went through to get his military and medical file rather than my father and, although I finally have the file, I still have not read it . . . hmmmmm.

Then there is the issue of what do I call him.  I had a great stepfather who I called by his first name, but for my whole life (the part I remember at least), I introduced him as my father, because . . . to me, he was.  I know I could choose to refer to one as my father and the other as my dad, but both terms seem to indicate a more familiar relationship than I had, and they are terms I have always associated with my stepfather - a term I rarely use.  The term biological father sounds like I started life in a petri dish.  Nothing seems right.  

What do I know about my father? I have found a few tidbits about him.  I know he had two brothers and one sister and grew up in Frankfort, Kansas. I know he was a 1942 graduate from the Columbus School of Law in Washington D.C. I know he was in the Seabees during WWII.  I know my parents married in California and moved back to D.C. after the war. I know he was an alcoholic for his entire life - the kind that can disappear for days or weeks at a time.

What would I like to know about my father? I would like to find my father before he became addicted to drink.  Where did he go to high school?  Where did he go to college?  Are there family photos when he was young?  Did he play football like his father?  I have researched a little, but then I find a letter that mentions his drinking or a photo of him with a drink in his hand, and I shut down.  I am way too old, and it has been way too long for me to still feel this way . . . but I do.  I now appreciate that my parent's divorce, gave me a wonderfully normal life.  It also separated me from half of my family - a grandmother and cousins my same age. Did they even miss my brother and I after we were gone? I recounted my first serious search for my Walker cousins in an early blog post, "52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Challenge #23".  It was extremely emotional, as you can tell from my post, but more satisfying that I could ever have imagined, yet a lifetime of separation cannot be mended in a weekend.  So I reach out and then pull back.

I realize that this brick wall is within me.


  1. A hug for you.


    This is one of the primary reasons I haven't blogged about my mother.

  2. A hug from me too, Margel. Sounds like you had a wonderful stepfather. As for the other, go easy and give yourself all the time and space you need. Sometimes walls aren't a bad thing to have.

  3. So powerful . . .
    I can identify too much to comment more.

    1. Kathy, Shelley, & Dee
      Thanks for your hugs. Strange how emotions can burst forth when you least expect it.

  4. My previous comment didn't show up for some reason. Just commented how long it takes us to get over long-ago hurts and suggested the memoir Shadow Man by Mary Gordon. You may find resonation with your experience in her attempts to recreate a missing father. Hugs again.

    1. There is a bit of a feeling that I am betraying my stepfather by wondering about my biological father - wouldn't it be nice if we could control our emotions, but then we would be Vulcans.