> No More Secrets And Lies: Mary Calls Me From Oregon

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mary Calls Me From Oregon

Journal — April 10, 2011
Josie called from Oregon. She was at work. We talked a bit and then she told me Mary was visiting her and was sharing her bed and it was beginning to bug her because she doesn’t clean up and she takes up most of the bed.

I said, "Really, how long has she been there?"
"Four or five days."
"How did she get out there?"
.     .     .

Mary flew out to Oregon in April of 2011 to visit her sister, Josie. I had no idea she was going out there until I got Josie's call. Once she set foot in Eugene, Mary called me nearly every day for the next two weeks, and we talked, sometimes multiple times a day. She even gave me her phone number and told me I could call her whenever I wanted to. And I did. I'd call her and we'd talk and laugh like old times, and it was absolutely the most surreal and wonderful experience I'd had in years. It was nothing less than amazing to be talking to Mary again, and I was in heaven for those two weeks thinking this whole nightmare was behind us and we could finally be together again. It was like she had come back from the dead, or from wherever she had been, and whatever had taken her away was now gone.

We didn't talk about why we were estranged from each other for those eight months or why she said she hated me and didn't want me in her life anymore. We just picked up where we had left off when she was still living with me and let our conversations go from there to books or movies or a hodgepodge of topics that were insignificant but kept us connected nevertheless. And we avoided the bigger issues I knew would come later. But I didn't care what we talked about; we were talking and that was enough. 

We even discussed getting together again when she returned. She suggested this:

"Dad, why don't we get together when I come back to Mankato? I miss hanging out with you."

"I would love that, Mary. I miss you too."

Whatever fog of brainwashed information had been clouding her mind, apparently wasn't thick enough to completely obscure her memory of me; and for the short period of time she was in Oregon, she still remembered she had a dad and wanted to be with him. A little part of her was still alive.

We joked about a hundred different things during those two weeks. She even asked me to send her potatoes. Yes. Real potatoes. She said she was hungry for them and didn't have any in the house. And I did this for her. It was how we joked around, and I knew she would get a kick out of it. I packed a bunch of small potatoes in a mailing tube and mailed them off to her in Eugene, and she loved this and I loved doing it for her. I probably would have mailed a truckload to her I was so happy to be talking to her again. 

Our brief, unexpected connection was all I thought about for those two weeks, and I couldn't wait for her to come back to Mankato so we could be together again. I couldn't wait for this to happen.

But it never happened. The minute she was back in Mankato something changed, and she changed back into the girl who hated her father as quickly as she had changed into the girl who loved her father the minute she left town. And now that she was home again, she wouldn't have anything to do with me.

I tried calling her, but she wouldn't accept my calls, and if I did get through, she'd scream at me and tell me she never wanted to see me again and threaten to call the police if I didn't quit trying to contact her. And on a few occasions she did call them, and they would have to call me to tell me to stop trying to contact her or risk getting arrested. One time she even threatened to shoot me. Yes.

This was impossible to understand, and at first I was more confused than anything else. Here, one day she and I are talking father-daughter-like, like the family we always were, and the next day she's a completely different person who never wants to see me again. One day we're laughing and making plans about hanging out together and the next day she's threatening to call the police, or shoot me.

Something was terribly wrong here, and I started to suspect that someone back here in Mankato was making her act this way — that something or someone was controlling her and maybe even threatening her, once they had discovered she and I were talking again.

I couldn't talk to her or see her anymore, and no one would tell me what happened to her. But I knew something had happened. Someone back here must have found out we were planning to get together and they wanted to make sure this would never happen — someone who had an interest in keeping us apart.

I had a sense, though, that there was something going on with her when she called me from Oregon — something beyond the obvious. Our conversations, while being relaxed and fun, were more about what we weren't discussing than what we were. And the big thing that had severed our relationship in the first place wasn't discussed at all. I noted this in my journal at the time:

I sensed in Mary's voice not a child who hated her dad, but a child who was terribly confused and afraid. A child who had been abused in a most awful way by having her own weakness exploited by people she thought she could trust. I don't think Mary knows who she can trust anymore.

Parents know when there's something wrong their children. Even if we can't see what it is, we know when something is out of the ordinary. A switch clicks on and our instincts kick in to warn us that our children are in danger. And until we find out what the problem is, the notion that there is a problem doesn't go away, even when we can't put our finger on it. It stays in the back of our minds. It's how we're wired.

I now wish Mary would have stayed in Oregon with her sister. Even though we were nearly 2000 miles apart, we were much closer then, than we are now. I know someone back here in Mankato is preventing her from being with me, and I'm fairly certain I know who this is. And I know our estrangement wasn't caused by something I did to her, but rather by something someone else, was, and still is, doing to her — someone who could scare her, threaten her, and maybe even hurt her. Someone who had done this before.


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