Beth Mann's Blog

Beth's Urban Tales of Wonder and Decay

Beth Mann

Beth Mann
Long Beach Island, New Jersey, USA
November 11
Hot Buttered Media
I'm a writer and creative consultant. I have years of experimental comedy and strange theater under my belt. I surf. I cook. I love wine, men and song. And puppies. I effin' love puppies.

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JUNE 20, 2009 7:27PM

Who's your Daddy and Why Did He Leave You?

Rate: 77 Flag


Paul E. Mann

Dear Dad:

I haven't spoken with you in so long. Things are such a mess. And I need your help.

I seem to be crying too much, feeling overwhelmed and broken. I don't really think anyone cares about me. Everyone will say they do...but they don't. Not in a real way. Not in a lasting way.

When you left many years ago, I thought you went to be with a better family, with a better 6 year-old girl. There must be something wrong with me, with us. And I worried, constantly, what bad thing would happen next. You see, when someone leaves you suddenly as a child, you live in a constant state of the "other shoe dropping."

That worry may be killing me, Daddy. And I don't want to die. I don't want to want to die anymore. Life is pretty and I'm afraid I'll miss it.

For much of my adult life, I was very lost. But its alright. I'm beginning to see myself a little more clearly because of all the shit I've been through. I am becoming more whole, as far as fractured people go. I'm trying.

But when people leave me in any way, shape or form, I become so defeated, so distraught. And guess what? It seems as if people do leave me more, as if I'm living out some awful destiny. Like I'm perpetually a little girl losing someone, perpetually in a state of grief. Too many years have gone by like this, Daddy, too many.

I worry that sometimes my heart will literally break. My heart started beating funny last year and I was so scared, Dad! I thought for sure all the heartache and tears had worn away my heart muscle.

That's why I'm writing to you. Change must come. Or I may not make it.

When you lose your father, you don't even dare dream things. You just figure something is very wrong with you and dreams are for little girls whose daddies stayed. Nothing works for the girl whose Daddy left. She's a perpetual Cinderella, sans a saving Prince.

I want to let myself dream again. I want to fall in love, maybe get married, and spend every day feeling wonderful that I found the man of my dreams... big love. I want to be confident and speak my mind without feeling stupid or ashamed. I want to be at peace, not frightened and anxious. I want to laugh so hard, it hurts. I want to feel safety. I want a deep sense of home. You see, when you left, home left too and has never returned. I'm ready for home now.

The year my father left

Maybe we wouldn't even get along had you stayed, I don't know. But I remember you being a very gentle and just man. Kind. Am I wrong? You loved nature, animals, singing. You loved laughing. You were well-liked and humble. Mom was the dark horse but you were the jovial, peaceful one. (You left us with a real troublemaker, I can tell you that. Damn you for that.)

My mom and dad

My father in a comedy skit, with broom

It was embarrassing growing up, not having a father. And now that mom is gone, I'm an official orphan. Now people say, in this slightly patronizing tone that only I recognize, "You can spend the holidays with us. We'd love to have you." The royal "we" that everyone has and I don't. I hate their invitations.

Father's Day...whatever. Another day to feel amiss and discordant with the world. A day like any other.

So how can you help, Dad?

Please convince me of the truth.

You didn't leave me. You died, Daddy - you simply died, like humans do.

Had I been allowed to visit you in the hospital or go to your funeral or visit the cemetary in which your bones lie, had I even felt your spirit around me a little more over these years, perhaps I'd own my life more fully, more richly. I would have grieved once, not constantly.

I so wish you were here, just for a short while. I'd like to show people you exist. You see? I have a father too! A good father!

But since you can't be here, please send help my way. You can do that, can't you? Death shouldn't stand in the way of you being my father.

Until then, I'm just a butterfly, kicked about by the wind.

Love, Beth

The last photo of my father, me in the middle. He died 2 weeks later.

"So save your strength and run the field, you play alone."

(Someone Saved my Life Tonight - Elton John and Bernie Taupin)

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I am really sorry for your loss. There are no easy things to say.
He'd be famously proud of you. Not to mention the short boarding. He'd say, "That's my little girl."
You have a spirit about you that shines. The two pictures in this post are so poignant. I wish you peace.
I lost my adopted mum when I was 10. I still remember feeling everything you mention in your post. For a while I thought that she'd just had to get away because she was in so much pain all the time and that I would run into her somewhere.

Wishing you peace and happiness, Beth. I hope all your dreams come true.
Now I know how my niece feels. ((HUG))
Extraordinary -- abandonment worse than death. This is very sad, and very beautifully written. I don't ever lose this.
painful and lovely at the same time, a rare thing when I can feel both as true and authentic. hugs to you, and a kiss on the head.
No real comment, just rated.
I see you in him---that first photo--a certain look that says he has something to say, a story to share. It will be a good story---told with heart and humor, maybe serious, but not taken too seriously. Do you see that in him? Do you see where the daughter gets it from?

I feel your loss. I just lost my dad recently and tomorrow will be tough. He hears with him.
You have a good father. He has a good daughter.

This was beautifully written. I wish you big love.
" Like I'm perpetually a little girl losing someone, perpetually in a state of grief. "

Much love, Beth Mann.

Well said, well written, good stuff and all that it implies...

delia said for me also... : (
Sad tale... I too see your father in you. It's that magic smile!

He would be very proud.
Beautifully written. I know I won't be, but I hope I'm always around for my little girl.
You wrote the piece I couldn't bring myself to write. My father died when I was 9. We kids were lied to, told that he was getting better, in order to spare our feelings. I never got to say good-bye or hear his last words. I remember being told not to make too much noise because my father was sick. So when he died, I was sure it was because I had made too much noise. I remember going to school to 5th grade, which started about a week after my father's death, and having this sense of wrongness, differentness. I relate to the not having dreams part, too. I especially relate to the difficulty handling loss and waiting for the other shoe to drop. I've used those words. Maybe it would have been better if the adults in the picture had realized that children need to process death. My mom said, I thought you kids didn't care, because you still played. Of course we played, we were kids, we didn't have a model for mourning. But we were full of confusion.
I relate to so much in this post. We have a lot in common, although I was a bit older when my father died. It's funny, I never thought about the humiliation -- I am so good at shoving things deep down inside.

So many things I could mention., but I like this: "I am becoming more whole, as far as fractured people go. I'm trying."

And: "But when people leave me in any way, shape or form, I become so defeated, so distraught." This is how I felt, and still sometimes feel. I truly hope you meet a wonderful man like I did. It doesn't make everything go away, but it helps.
I'm sorry your father went away so soon Beth. Mine was around a lot longer, but I get it when you say "Father's Day...whatever. Another day to feel amiss and discordant with the world. A day like any other." I'll be glad when Monday's here.
This is a lovely piece. Reading through many of the Father’s Day posts here you can see the large variety of relationships people have had w/their fathers. Yours is a great link in that chain since it’s the lack of one that defines it. Touching.
Your grief rings so deep and real. No comment on a blog is going to help you work that through. And maybe your dad can send you help, and maybe he can't. But it sounds like there was nobody there to guide you through that grief. Now it's up to you, and you need to find someone really good who can help you with that. Or even a half assed counsellor, because you're so smart and so self aware, you'll probably end up doing most of the work anyways. But I hope you find some way to work this through. You have so much talent, and obviously so much to give. Life does not mean for you to be carrying this pain around forever. It really doesn't
You have my heartfelt sympathies. I find it harder to understand people who can "just move on" than those who feel their sorrow keenly.
The last photo of you lasered out my eyesockets and took my breathaway......when I finally felt my breath return, I wished with all my might for that void you have to be filled........I am so profoundly sorry for the oceans of hurt that have filled your days......
Your father is still present as a part of you. I'm sorry for your loss.
This was a very powerful, heartfelt, and touching letter to your father. I am so sorry about your loss and the hurt, and pain it has caused you in your life. You can dream again and feel full filled in your life, I do hope you can find that in your life one day. Keep hope alive in your heart and mind. {{HUGS}}
I adore that 7-year-old picture of you with the too-short bangs. Jesus, I'm sorry for your heartbreak. There's nothing to say except that I will love my very old, cancer-ridden father more because of this piece. Thank you for that.
Beth, you know me... you know it's not like me to be at a loss for words. But...
xo to a brilliant writer on this morning

there is so much you clearly know. you're getting there.
This is so well written, and I can relate on many levels. The humiliation of having no father, the sense of being orphaned as an adult. It's hard to fill those holes.
I love the pictures, especially the one of the ocean.
Oh Beth, such heart and soul. Such special gifts, such pain.
You will find that love. It often comes when you least expect it, so I hope you live your life knowing that it can and will be yours.
Amazing post Beth. Very sad but very touching.
I have too much to say here, and nothing to offer. I'm so very sorry Beth. You said things that could have come from me. Sigh...
Life sure does suck sometimes...

Like wrapping your lips around a sewer and just drinking long and hard...

But, there are moments of bliss and sometimes you just have to go from moment to moment and hang on.

My dad 'left' me. He denied me. I finally put it all in a post today.

'Men are pigs' and I try to not live the life that my father might have lived.

You are here. You are alive. You have feelings. You have choice. You have control. Do what you want but don't let the baggage get you down. Look in the mirror and say that you are a damn good person and believe it. He missed knowing you and it was his tragedy.

I guess my wife had it easier than the two of us in a way. Her father died when she was young. Ours walked away. Death is final, denial is harder to deal with. Give yourself a hug and know that you matter, to yourself and your family... Peace and chocolate...
beautiful. poignant. moving.
So moving. Sad and beautiful at the same time. This is deep art. I'm at a loss--
What a moving, beautifully written post.
I wish there were words that would make it better . . . and I know there aren't . . . blessings, Beth Mann . . . wishing you a day of peace.
This is haunting. The last picture of you is just shattering. There is no antidote for loss, other than to hold on to it.
Wow, it's like you read my journal. I wish I could say it gets better but I'm still waiting too. Thank you for your post. It let me know I'm not alone.

"When you left, home left too and has never returned."

Your sense of confused lost is as sharply felt in these words as it must have been when you were just six. Poor sweet Beth, poor sweet girl.
Beth, great emotional post as always. Very real. Check out "Father Knows Beast" for a different perspective.
May the missing one know how deeply they are missed - and may it not make them sad.
"When you lose your father, you don't even dare dream things. You just figure something is very wrong with you and dreams are for little girls whose daddies stayed. Nothing works for the girl whose Dad left."

Oh, Beth, I know this too well, even though my father's death was (hard to say, but true) a blessing. We are core-damaged by the loss. Maybe they should have let you see him, but then those memories would haunt you more than the loving ones and more than your loss.

I swear there is hope, sweet, sad girl who can laugh and live and write so well... when you're really ready, you'll find The One. If I did, you can.
To all of you, I can't say thank you enough for your comments. On some levels, that was the most healing aspect of this process, just reading them. I could only read a few at a time because it was so hard.

Perhaps I needed to clarify more, but my father didn't leave us. He died. It simply felt like he did because I was too young to understand death. I decided to reveal that at the end of the piece, as a writing device. Maybe that didn't come across so clearly?

One of you mentioned the importance of talking to children about death. I can't tell you how important I think that is now. I'm the product of a generation - or a family - that just wanted to hide it in a closet and not talk about it. And it has caused me much pain and confusion, obviously.

So let's talk about death more freely, shall we? It matters to the dying and it matters to the living.
I feel your pain and it was so well written. My only comment is that you should talk more about it. I have a story to tell someday about the death of my 1 year old but I feel I should share this. People don't know what to say to explain death or how to talk to people after death. If asked I would say please talk about him he was real and alive and a part of me as was your Father to you. Talking helps and folks need to learn that dealing with death is easier if they still exist somewhere and words and sharing help.
beth, you are a strong chickie. this time will pass...hugs to you in your current state of loneliness.
Very moving and sad.
Beth, I thought about you all day. All day.

Once when I was very sad and posted yet another sad poem, you sent me a link to a beautiful poem. I printed that poem and tacked one copy above my computer in my office and I keep one copy in my purse, in the the pocket where I keep my lipstick. Obviously, I read it often.

All day I thought about what I could send you.... and of course nothing will really make a difference. But, do you ever listen to Patti Griffin? Her voice is stunningly real and her lyrics are utterly gorgeous. One song I thought about for you "Rain". It won't likely cheer you up, but it might console a little.

Patty Griffin
(1000 Kisses)

It's hard to listen to a hard hard heart
Beating close to mine
Pounding up against the stone and steel
Walls that I won't climb
Sometimes a hurt is so deep deep deep
You think that you're gonna drown
Sometimes all I can do is weep weep weep
With all this rain falling down

Strange how hard it rains now
Rows and rows of big dark clouds
When I'm holding on underneath this shroud

Its hard to know when to give up the fight
Two things you want will just never be right
Its never rained like it has to night before
Now I don't wanna beg you baby
For something maybe you could never give
I'm not looking for the rest of your life
I just want another chance to live

Strange how hard it rains now
Rows and rows of big dark clouds
When I'm still alive underneath this shroud
Rain Rain Rain
You were robbed, no two ways about it.
I'm sorry I stayed away from this today. I owed you that, and I balked, because I have such fucked up feelings about father's day.
I know that six year old. And I want to tell her something: that love you want, that big love, will happen. Some day. Mine has.
Tomorrow, I hope that you can breathe easier, because it will be another year until father's day. Some days in the calendar are just so fucking hard to bear.
Peace to you. Sleep well tonight.
Dear Beth,

The only way I can begin to relate to the severity of this tender loss at such a young age is to think of my grandma. I’m sorry to say that even up until her final year—when she reached 82 almost exactly two years ago—she still could not discuss her father without her voice breaking and tears streaming down her cheeks. She was eight when he passed away from cancer. The last year or two was especially difficult for her mother, who was washed clothes for the neighbors to earn enough to care for five children and her ailing husband.

On March 10, 1933, an earthquake struck Long Beach, California. The boiling pot of clam chowder my grandma’s father had been cooking jumped off the stove and onto his foot. This was the last time my grandma saw him out of bed. The injury accelerated his decline, and he slipped away a month or so later. She was at his bedside when he stretched out his arms and offered these final words to his surrounding family, “Father, I thank Thee. Father, I thank Thee. Father, I thank Thee.” And then he was gone.

My grandma was a stalwart tomboy of a woman with a delicious sense of humor and a gift for writing and language—not unlike you. And yet there was a permanent rupture in her heart which she knew would never mend. Perhaps she came not to fear it, but to welcome it as the connective tissue between herself and her departed father. Perhaps you can, too, in time, in time.

That photo of you a year after your father left is extraordinary. I can see the seed of your adult self in that image, and that radiant smile should give you much to hope for. You are clearly a resilient soul.

Finally, if you want some hard-copy reading material (not that any of us have time for those old-fashioned books anymore ;-) you might find solace in reading Rosemary Dunn Dalton’s Lamenting Lost Fathers: Adult Daughters Search for the Message of the Father. And I’m not just saying that because she’s one of my dearest friends. She has taught, written, and lectured on the topic of fathers and daughters for decades, and she has much wisdom to offer on the subject.

Here’s hoping you can find that smile again.

Oh, Beth, I'm so sorry. So sorry for your loss and the feelings of abandonment and fear it has left you with. People- good, well meaning people- deal so badly with telling children about a death in the family. When my ex-husband was 16 his father died when he was at boarding school. His mother left it up to the housemaster to tell him and didn't bring him home for the funeral. She was a wonderful woman- I can only assume she was out of her mind with grief. I hope that one day you will celebrate Father's Day with your own children, if that's what you want. much love Fiona x
I am so sorry you lost your Dad so soon in life. My Dad died nearly three years ago and I miss him so, but he was in my life and we were very close. Fathers are so important to their daughters but having a good one who is there is no guarantee that we'll grow up well balanced and happy, sometimes things just happen.

I have to say from reading and learning a bit about you hear that you've got staying power, or as Lou Grant would say, "spunk." There aren't many guys or women who surf the Jersey shore in the summer let alone the winter, who can also to put pen to paper with the skill that you have. If I were you I know my Dad would be proud, and he was a pretty smart guy.
It is an abandonment - grief is not rational. This is heartbreaking and wonderful/terrible. There should be a word for that.
I hope he hears or reads this and sends you the message you have been waiting for. I wish I could sweep you up in arms of love and comfort and tell you all the words that will never matter that I might say. But know that they are true. From many of us, to and for you. Hugs.
Loved your surfing story! Now to see your soft side, what a treat. Your writing is wonderful. Rated
It was hard enough losing my father when I was in my 30's; I can't imagine how the pain would have been if I had been only six...

So sad...I'm so sorry, Beth.
Oh Beth. Heartrending.
You take my breath away. You are so brave to write this post, to be so honest about your pain. You are welcome in my home anytime.

Almost a month later, I just read this post of yours. It's agonizingly raw, and very moving. Rosemarie, my wife, lost her mother when she was just eight. I know, from our 40+ years together, that the hurt never really goes away; hers hasn't. But it can, over time, be transmuted; I hope that such a gift is given you.
I have no idea how I missed this one, Beth.

One of my girls lost her daddy in a car accident when she was five. I truly believe she feels just like this. Really.

Haunting. Beautiful. And I know, just know, that BIG Love will come to you.
Dear Beth, your aching need, the relentless loss. I feel so for you and for all our losses and how hard it is to carry on living. Beautifully written. Your voice is our voice. You speak so eloquently for us. I thank you.
I can so relate to this post. Mine died when I was 9 months old yet I never stopped missing him. But may I be very bold and say that souls do return. And I really do think my father came back to me. He's my son now. And on the day he was born, he saved my life. (I know you know the story already)
My father is still alive, but left us for his second family I recently found out he has a third). When my mother died I felt like such an orphan. People tell me just to call him and all will be okay. I gave up on him a few years ao when the disappointment was too much. My mother was a dark horse as well. This post perfectly describes the loss of father love and feeling different because the girl who have one can dream. Simply beautiful.