The other Sunday afternoon, Father’s Day, I was speaking on the phone with my mother. And suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, we were interrupted by a knock on her door at the Senior Citizen’s home.
For you few who ain’t regular feasters of my poetic abuses, my Mom lives near my brother-da-heart-doc on the left coast, across the bay from San Francisco.
After she opened her apartment entrance I could hear her pleasantly say, because she still cradled the cell phone: “Why, hello Zakki…”
Zakki is my 18 year old congenitally ill son who I had not seen or spoken to for the last two years, 1 month, 1 week, 2 days and 14 hours…
That’s how long it’s been since I have had a Father’s Day… Actually it’s been more to the tune of 5 years, 7 months, 3 weeks and 4 days… And for those of you who have read bits and parts of this story over the past 15 months in these columns, it’s been much, much longer… as well as much more gruesome.
In the battle from day one to save Zakki’s life his parents managed to save the patient, but killed each other..
My mother hasn’t seen or been enabled to speak with Zakki in years. Her holiday cards and birthday cards — with money — as well as any other entreaty, went unanswered.
Over the cell phone in my mother’s 92-year old hands I heard a man’s voice introduce himself as Zakki’s golf coach. My mother quickly surmised he must be her latest ‘hump.’ He wondered if they could venture inside for a visit.
My astute mother readily recognizes ‘totally sincere greetings’ when someone’s seeks to enter your home with a Halloween smile. But her big heart leapt out to Zakki and welcomed ‘him’ in.
But then she gazed up to see Stephanie, who pissed my mother off years before she ever lied, cheated, robbed, raped and pillaged me. And as the three of them embarked upon entering, Zakki’s straight talking Bubbe snapped:
“Not so fast, you two. Zakki’s always welcomed. But you — and whoever you are – simply are not!” She glared right into the piercing green eyes of Stephanie’s tiny, round, petite-boned face and leveled: “You can’t come in!”
I love my-in-your-face Big-MaMa. She’s never been one to misappropriate her senior age as an excuse to verbally spit in your eye-for-an-eye. She’s always been that way since I popped out of the oven and she swore she was either going to go blind or back to being a virgin – whichever matched her raging mood ring.
My mother has always done and said some things I’ve been — believe it or not — too tortuously polite to utter. But the older I get the sharper my tongue. As the brief interlude was quickly ending, and just before they closed the door to leave, my mother said to Zakki: “Your father’s on the phone. Would you like to talk with him?”
My emotionally and mentally challenged son, with every congenital and physical malady ever created, peered nervously. His eyes pleaded to his mother. He was an acolyte seduced to nursing on the very poison that was killing his desire to be free — just like when she actually poisoned me into an emergency hospital bed for 5 weeks.
It seems that Stephanie had created a cure for which there is no disease. And unfortunately I caught it and our family unit died from it.
My mother could only mutter: “If your mother poisoned you to turn off your father, why did you now try to turn on to his mother. Me, Zakki…Your Dad is always my son. Just as you are his.”
You know, my mother wondered rhetorically to me later, why would she do that? … Just show up after 7 years… Doesn’t call….Poisons that boy’s mind….. Lies about everything… Doesn’t let you see him… Steals your things… Steals our heirlooms…Steals your money….Your life?… Your time…. Tried to kill you….What kind of person does all that to the father of her son?…
“You know, Mom,” I simply offered, “I’ve wondered a time or two about that myself…”
And then added only half-facetiously: Man doesn’t control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him.
And, of course, all the folks who aid and abet…
Don’t worry…I am not about to start singing any blues or country western songs that twang: “I get tears in my ears from lying on my back crying over you….”
Indeed, my mother’s good humor gene didn’t skip over my generation.
It ‘s just that every once in bit a fragment of contraband slips through the safety net of one of my mental trap doors. And I get to wondering if the psychiatrists, and such, are right when they finally had to surrender, admit that I ain’t at all crazy…that they’ve had the wrong person under the microscope these last five years…Wasting away in Margaritaville…a woman to blame…but I know it’s my own damn fault…
And then there’s the once churlish Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney, Kate Thurston. The epitome of transgendered arrogance when she was enlisted by Stephanie to level heinous charges against me.
Soon she choked, turned colors and practically fell deader than a desiccated autumn leaf when she had no choice but to withdraw them all 8 weeks later.
The truth can set you free. But, not before Miss Stephanie had completely wiped out my entire life’s work, money, enterprise, friends and relatives. And when I sought the now defensive Ms. Thurston’s assistance in getting my life back – some retribution — she hideously replied: “Get a lawyer!”
And all I could reply was: “Duh…I thunk I be talkin’ to one…”
Hmm… Now I understand why there’s a peculiar law that the District Attorney’s office of cut-rate legal minds can’t be sued for doing nothing more or less than any illegal counterfeiter: passing bad paper.
What torched my nose hairs this time around was another Father’s Day. Not any day is father’s day for me, anymore. And, I detest the officially designated soap-on-a-rope maudlin consumer pathos: Its sting is far worse than lemon juice on a paper cut.
So, I attempted to hide in my cave for the whole weekend watching TV’s marathon of the U.S. Open Golf Tournament at San Francisco’s Olympic Club.
But then the phone started ringing with Schadenfreude. A couple of erstwhile friends couldn’t wait to tell me that Zakki was in the newspaper. All the Philadelphia Inquirers were sold out in my area. So I went on the internet and looked up Zakki Strunk.
Finally I scoured….and landed on the golf page… where in bold type he was listed as Zakki Blatt, Stephanie’s maiden name.
Same thing she did with her older boy, Hanz. I was his stand-up father from his 5th year on. His Palestinian ,one-year-stand, natural father fled back to the West Bank – “just going out for a pack of cigarettes…” — to live in a cave, apparently. Preferable to sleeping in the hardrock, uxorious lap of Stephanie — a fire breathing demonstration of when bad Christians happen to good people.
And exorcisms don’t work.
Miss Stephanie firmly subscribes to the conviction that fathers are only biological and financial necessities. Otherwise they are obscene and not heard.
The Inquirer story read:
Zakki Blatt, an 18-year-old member of The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia who has overcome a congenital heart (and lung) defect and a stroke, has been named the male winner of the Achiever of the Year award presented by the national First Tee organization and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Blatt, one of 10 nominees for the award, received the honor Wednesday night during the annual awards banquet in San Francisco, site of the U.S. Open. He will receive a $15,000 scholarship…
The medium sized story that followed went on to list Zakki’s vast array of heart, lung, stroke and other defects. As well as the stroke caused when the doctors were battling to save him that left him only partial use of his left arm and leg. And how, because of his very limited left lung, he had to prepare for 3 months for the plane trip out from Philadelphia to the West Coast…
It quoted some guy described as executive director of First Tee of Philadelphia. And I realized that he also must be the ‘hump’ who said he was the ‘golf coach’ when he intended to visit with Steph at my Mom’s….
I mean, why would you bring an absolute stranger into such an extremely strange situation – unless he’s no stranger? If after his last year or so with Stephanie he still has his (golf) balls, he should have excused himself and waited downstairs.
Then again, Stephanie’s modus operandi has always been to use her children and lovers as emotional shields.
But when for me is this emotional toothache ever going to end?
Exactly whose colonoscopy bag must I tongue-wash to escape the dogmatic vituperations and ignominious radical temerity of this bawdy pusillanimous panderer of parsimonious pathos. (I curse a lot when I’m bloody pissed!)
In other words, when does this relationship go from severely wounded to absolutely dead?
What does a man have to do? Where is my union rep, my grievance committee? Overpaid athletes and musicians and students and even traffic speeders get umpires and referees and conductors and deans and cops to adjudicate immediate justice.
But where are the halls of justice for the rest of us?
Out there in the bloody halls? With a cabal of legal peccadilloes in their $5,000 Armani law suits passing more bad paper?
So when does the father get to be heard?
Does anyone ever listen to the man? Does anyone ever ask a father how he manages to combine family and a career?
Even in my own house with my own title and deed, if Stephanie complained something or other to the police — that soon got tossed out of court — I still got thrown out. Even after I warned the police she will do this again and again.Yet, they still handcuffed moi!
I listened to the courts, but that didn’t help.
I listened to the lawyers but that didn’t help.
I listened to my ‘friends’ but that didn’t help.
I listened to my family but that didn’t help…
Hey, I may not know the key to success. But I do know the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
And all I ever wanted was for Stephanie and me to listen to each other.
But progress requires us to both accept change. And the first thing you gotta change, is your own mind.
For Steph that simply amounted to: “Fer-ged-da-bout-it!”
As always, women like Miss Stephanie don’t want to hear what you think. They want to hear what they think — in a lower voice.
As my dear ol bourbon sippin Pappy – who damn well never entertained such bullshit in his own domain — exhaled between those omnipotent puffs on his omniscient corn cob pipes: “Don’t worry about what people think, because you can’t change it.”
But I do worry about what my sons think.
How did it get to be such a mess? Even when it is happening right before your very eyes you can’t believe it is happening. But that’s the way things happen, don’t they?
Nevertheless I needs to know: How did our venal, tightass, politically correct system get to be so anal retentive? How is it we got a bunch of woman legal beagles strapping on six-inch titanium prostheses to act like a man?
Why are they setting the bar so low?
As I said to Ms. Kate Thurston, that humbled-pie ADA for Miss Stephanie, the only brief time we ever exchanged a moment: “That’s a nice pant suit you’re wearing counselor. But don’t they sell women’s clothing where you bought that?”
I know that in time my sons, Zakki and Hanz, may come to their own conclusions. That no man is responsible for his father. That it was entirely their mother’s affair(s). That if they don’t like the father they remember, then create or procure another one.
But, in the meantime, I miss them terribly. Just because I’m brash doesn’t mean I don’t hurt.
Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home. And I just want them to know, that I’ll keep the light on for them… because Father’s Day ain’t just a holiday. It’s every day…For fathers and sons…Human or not…
And dats yDrewIS on DIS penal colony…