Posted in Life, Stories

Who Were You Dad?

In honor of Father’s Day, this is something I originally wrote back in 2014.  Happy Father’s Day to all of those Dads out there. 


This is a question I often ask.  I never knew the man.

My mother married 5 times.  Badly.  I knew 2 step-fathers, neither of which I ever wanted to call “Dad”.

What I do know about my dad is very sketchy.  His name was Roy.  A name that was passed down to my little brother.  I have one old, faded, black & white photo of him standing beside my mother.  They were both so young in that picture.  My mother looking up into my father’s eyes.  You could tell just from that single picture that she adored him.  Roy was quite tall.  In the picture he was head & shoulders above my mother who was 5’7”.  So he must have been over 6’ tall. He’s looking down at her, his hair falling down over his forehead a little bit.

All I have regarding my father is information that was passed down to me by my mother and older brothers.

My dad was full blood German.  I guess I have (had) grandparents in Germany somewhere.

My dad was a timber faller and worked in the woods.  I have very vague memories of a 2 room cabin, with a wood cook stove in one room and a fire place in the room where we all had our beds.  The front yard was dirt and there was a tire swing tied to a limb of a big tree in that front yard.  In my mind’s eye, I can’t make out his face, but I have a misty/foggy memory of a slender man sitting on the side of a big bed looking down at me in this 2 room cabin.  I can see the fireplace behind him burning brightly.  I have been told by my brothers that yes, we were living with my father during the time of these vague memories.

Other than that, I have no real memories of this man.

My mother said that my dad was injured in the war (WWII?) and he had a steel plate in his head.  She said eventually the war and the injury got the best of him and he turned mean.  MY mother packed us up and left.

Mom tells me that she loved my dad very much and if it had not been for his injury, she would have stayed with him.

My older brothers confirm this story as well.  I guess he was a swell guy until he went nuts.

As a child I used to fantasize about finding my father.  But another part of me didn’t want to see the ugly side of him.  What if he was in a nut house somewhere?  Or what if he was homeless?

If the steel plate in his head was that detrimental for him, would he even remember my mother or me?

These are questions I really didn’t want the answer to.

Now as an adult, I still let myself drift there once in a while; wondering who this man was.  What did his voice sound like?  Did I inherit any of his mannerisms?  Did he have a German accent?  Did I get my love of reading from him?  Did he smoke, drink, or like pizza?  These are things I will never know.

With the internet, you would think there would be avenues for me find him, or what may have happened to him.  But I simply don’t have enough information.  I don’t know his middle name, his hair or eye color, his birthday or even how old he might be.  My mother and father were never legally married.  So I don’t have that information either.  I’m pretty much stuck with what little information I have.

I would like to have ONE conversation with my dad.  Just one.  If he were coherent that is.  I would ask a million questions!  I would probably drive the man crazy!  More than anything, I would want to hear his voice.  To hear the inflection in his words.  I would want to take his hand, hold it; feel the warmth of his touch.  Had those hands ever touched his daughter with love?

In many ways I was very lucky growing up.  My mother loved me and my brothers and that is something I have never questioned.  Some people don’t have even that.  But I guess there has always been that piece of me that was empty and unanswered.

I think this is one of the perils of getting older.  We start looking back more than we look ahead.  I don’t think I quite do that…yet.  But I do find myself questioning my past more and more.

Copyright (C) Penny Wilson


Penny Wilson is a freelance writer who writes in several genres. She has written articles for WOW Women on Writing. Her poetry has been published in online journals, such as Ariel Chart, Spill Words Press and the Poppy Road Review. Penny is a member of the Austin Poetry Society. Her poetry has been featured in the publication America's Emerging Poets 2018 & 2019 by Z Publishing and Poets Quarterly and Dual Coast Magazine published by Prolific Press. Penny is an advocate for Mental Health Awareness and has the page "Mental Health Help" on her blog. She writes about the struggles of mental illnesses and Depression. She is passionate about spreading awareness for Suicide Prevention and Domestic Abuse. She expresses her passion through her writings of poetry and life experiences. You can find more of her writings on her blog at and follow her on Twitter @pennywilson123.

9 thoughts on “Who Were You Dad?

  1. How strikingly similar to my own story! My mother was also married numerous times, once to my father, the son of German emigres. He was a presser and was missing an ankle from an injury he suffered in Vietnam. Evidently he became a terrible drunk and my mother finally threw him out when he pushed her down the stairs. I haven’t seen him since I was five, and although I can’t say that I miss him – I never really knew the man – there is a certain amount of curiosity there. I have to think that being the child of a vanished parent is in some ways similar to being adopted. Even if the family you did have was wonderful, in some ways you always wonder about who the missing parent was. I suppose it’s only natural to want to know where we came from.


    1. Thank you Lori! After looking at your blog, we may have more in common than you realize. My mother suffered from Bi Polar disease. It’s a topic I have not touched on in my blog, but plan to. Thanks for looking in on me. I look forward to reading more of your work!


      1. Goodness – it’s enough to make one wonder if all of these things somehow go together! Let’s hope not. I look forward to learning more about you, Penny!


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