What It’s Like To Be A Fatherless Daughter

Shutterstock / Lanzelot
Shutterstock / Lanzelot

A daughter without a father is a sad scenario that I wish did not exist.

I wish I could wish it away. Not just for me, but for every girl out there who feels incomplete.
For every girl out there who has grown up never really understanding how to love or trust a man.

As human beings, we learn through experience. In my experience, fatherless daughters are the loneliest of creatures. Sad beyond belief. Empty. Broken. We are left always feeling something is missing from our lives. I am left feeling very lonely and very insecure. I’m left feeling unworthy of love.

I often think to myself, if my own father didn’t love me enough to stick around… to fight for me, to fight to be a part of my life as my mother pushed him out the door, then it seems obvious that I am unworthy of love. I wish my mother could have known that her lies would mentally screw me up forever.

I don’t want this to be mom-bashing. That is not what this is about. She knows how I feel. We have tried to hash it out many times. Right now we are newly reconciled. Again. We chit-chat and talk about everything but. She is not comfortable discussing my father. I wouldn’t write anything that I have not already written to her directly. She knows the boundaries we must stick by to keep our relationship going.

In my opinion, I was born too soon. When I was born, it wasn’t yet cool to be a dad who stuck around.

In my opinion, Stay-at-Home Dads are cool as shit. They have prioritized their lives and actually put their children first. I think more men are finally now realizing the limitless rewards received in being a dedicated, dependable, loving, supportive parent, who sticks around no matter what.

In my opinion, men can be caring, kind, loving and inspirational in child-raising but in my experience, they simply choose not to. WHY?

Why do some men find it so easy to walk away from their children forever? Just walk away as if there was never any connection or bond between them? In this situation, nobody wins. Hearts are broken. Wounds that will never fully heal are left behind to fester.

My parents divorced when I was just about 8 years old. My father was a gentle giant, standing at 6’4”. I remember him as smiling the warmest smile I’ve ever seen to this day. He was way to kind for his own good. He truly loved my mother but that wasn’t enough for her. My mother on the other hand, was rock hard and cold as ice. She chewed him up and spit him out. He lost everything. He was sent packing and I was left to be raised by a woman who never hugged me once as a child. Not one single hug do I remember. A hug is so simple, yet so powerful. I still ache to just be hugged.

Too make matters worse, my mother told us that he left of his own free will. She took no responsibility. This left her to appear the hero. The single mother who raised her kids on her own because she was the abandoned one. I’m not even going to mention the fact that she married five more times after this… in her constant search for the perfect man regardless of the negative affects it had on her children… on me. Oooppps, I mentioned it.

Abandoned? How could she not realize that while this may have made her look better to the outside world, it traumatized me. I was left feeling unworthy of love and I still do til this day.

I’d looked for him many times before throughout my life but, I began looking for him more frantically in December of 2008. I’m not sure why. For some reason, I just knew I should find him this time. It felt important. I tried online everything to track him down. No luck. Months passed and I sunk back into my normal routine. A day never passed that I didn’t think of him.

By mid-August 2009, I received an email from a Debbie Bendell, a cousin in Colorado (I live in PA) that I never knew I had. My paternal grandmother had moved to Colorado many years before. I found out that any and all Bendell relatives that I had, lived out there and still do.

My father stayed local, even though his whole family was in Colorado. The thought that he stayed local to be closer to his children, just in case we needed him or in the hope of reuniting someday, kills me. He had no other reason to stay in PA, all by himself. To think of him as lonely is too much for my mind to handle.

My cousin, Debbie, was searching for me and my father to tell us that my grandmother had passed away. Actually, through her search for him, she found me. She also found something that she was afraid to tell me.

I was not even close to prepared for what I was about to hear, see and experience.
So many past years spent fanaticizing about who my father might be. I imagined him as successful, happy, hopefully remarried and sharing his life with someone who loved him the way he deserved to be loved.

Sadly, what I did find, was so far from what I had hoped for him.

I soon discovered that he lived very much alone, in a very small apartment that was full to the max with every item he had ever owned in his whole life. He was a hoarder. (It’s been proven that those who hoard are usually those who have lost the most in life, so they now hold onto absolutely everything). It’s completely obvious to me now, he was the abandoned one. He was left alone, without his children and became depressed.

I discovered, he had recently lost his job at a local grocery store, due to disability. He could no longer pay his bills. His phone was shut off. He had no cable or internet. He was being evicted from his apartment.

So, on that day back in August of 2009, when Debbie couldn’t reach my dad, she found me. We then managed to track down the owners of the apartment complex my father lived in. They knew exactly who he was and went straight to his apartment to notify him of his mother’s passing.

Due to his hoarding, I was able to peek into the life of the man I missed so much. The man that was the only father I will ever have. I found out that, despite living many miles apart, my father and grandmother remained very close. They wrote to each other every week and sent each other little notes, treats and also coins. They collected coins. Mostly Wheat Pennnies and special quarters. All of which I now have. These notes and small trinkets are now my prized possessions.

Grandmom had been sick for quite some time and it was known that her time on earth was coming to an end.

Important Note: Back in the 70s, my uncle, (my father’s older brother) committed suicide. From the stories I have been told, since I was too young to remember, my grandmother was obviously devastated. My dad was all she had left and he was the love of her life. Her everything.

Through letters we found after his passing, it became clear that he always told her that he was doing fine. He was good. He would never want her to worry about him.

So, August 26, 2009, the apartment complex owners’, went to his apartment. The door was unlocked. They entered his apartment while calling out for him. From the front door, they could see a portion of the bedroom. They could see him laying in his bed, napping they assumed, next to a cane. He was disabled so the “cane” seemed normal.

At closer investigation, it was realized, he wasn’t sleeping. He was dead. He shot himself.
I know in my heart of hearts, he would have NEVER allowed his mother to feel the pain of losing another child to suicide. Especially in her fragile state.

After autopsy, it was determined that (they died many miles apart but…) they died within 48hrs of each other, grandmother went first.

So I ask you to consider this….

He had no working phone. No internet. No one could get a hold of him to let him know his mother had passed. Yet, somehow he knew. He knew she was gone. She was at peace. He somehow knew that he could now release himself from his own pain and suffering without hurting her. And that is exactly what he did. Within 48 hours.

I know what happened. I know what I believe.

As her spirit left her body, she went directly to him. She let him know somehow, that she was ok. She was at rest. He picked up a shotgun and ended his suffering.

His suffering may have ended instantly, but mine was just beginning.

All over again, my pain was raw and excruciating. Intense. I was reduced back to that little girl of 8 years old, left without her daddy. It was too final.

It then hit me like a ton of bricks… I realized that I could no longer look for his face everywhere I went. I’d always dreamed of running into him somewhere while out shopping or something. That small dream was now as dead as my father.

I wish he would have thought about me, just once, before he pulled that trigger.

The “Why’s and What Ifs” haunt me today and will haunt me for the rest of my life.

What if I would have found him in Dec 2008? What if he could have come and lived with me and my family? Our house is small and we don’t have much. We struggle every day. But that doesn’t matter. We would have made room. We could have made it work. I mean, Life or Death? Yes, we have room. But sadly, that didn’t happen. Why didn’t I send a hand-written note? Why did I only use the internet for my search? Why didn’t I try harder? Why didn’t he try harder?

Fact: Most days, I just want to curl in my bed and remain there forever while crying, “I want my Daddy!” I am daily reduced to feeling like a small, lost child, aching for love.

It’s been more than 5 years but the pain is still so raw, it feels like yesterday. This terrible event in my life has changed me forever. I am forever changed and not for the better. It defines me and I allow it to. I allow this horrible tragedy to define my existence. I’m so tired of feeling sorry for myself. My pity party is exhausting. But, everything always comes back to the fact that my father committed suicide. My father died of loneliness and at his own hand. How do I live with that?

I do not fear death. I look forward to my own passing and the sweet reunion with my family members whom have already left this earth. This cold, cruel world.

I look forward, with every ounce of my being, to once again seeing and embracing the warm, wonderful, kind, loving, sweet, funny man that I had the privilege of calling “Daddy” even if it was for a way to brief period of time.

I had a dream last week. My second of him since his passing. In the dream, we were at my maternal grandparent’s house. My grandfather, whom has also passed, was wearing a Halloween mask. My father was sitting in a recliner with a small child in his lap. I was happy. My grandfather, looked at me, then at my dad. He looked at me again and said… “Wait. Stop. Stop smiling and look at me.” He then looked at my dad and back to me. What he said was powerful and I cried so hard, it woke me up from a sound sleep.

The words that I will never forget, spoken by my grandfather:

“You and your father have identical eyes.”

HHHHmmm??? Identical eyes!?!?! What did he mean by that? Why was that message so important that he felt the need to ensure I received it?

Is this message just about the obvious… that our eyes are very much the same? Or is there a deeper meaning? It is often said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Maybe he was saying that my father and I are more alike than I ever thought. Maybe it was a kind of warning. Is the tendency for suicide hereditary? Am I at a higher risk due to my family’s past?
I close with this thought provoking speculation…

Consider the limitless love they shared as mother and son despite the miles that separated them. Consider that my father already lost his brother to suicide; my grandmother lost her eldest son and would not lose her youngest (my dad) the same way. My father was so kind, so considerate of other’s feelings. He knew his mother had been in a fragile state for quite some time. There is no way in hell anyone could ever make me believe that he killed himself while she was still living. Knowing that this hugely traumatic event would probably kill my fragile grandmother. Nope. No way.

So… Somehow, someway, he knew she was already gone. How?

Any thoughts?

Dedicated to Robert Allen Bendell
January 25, 1950 – August 24, 2009
You are loved. Rest in Peace.
I’ll See You Soon. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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