Now that Father’s Day is past and I don’t risk ruining it for anybody, I can express my true feelings. As a day to relish my relationship with my children, Father’s Day remains a time to cherish. But as a time to remember my relationship with my own father, it remains bitter.
My father was a successful lawyer working in the San Francisco Bay Area as I was growing up. But he embezzled $40,000 from one of his clients, was indicted and convicted, and served a number of years in San Quentin prison. After he had finished his sentence and was released, he was disbarred and could no longer practice law. My mother, an alcoholic, took him back. He engaged in various illegal practices and was sent to prison again. By the time I was in college, working twenty hours a week to support myself and pay expenses, he was back on the street. He found a way to get money by forging checks against other people’s accounts. He even wrote checks against my account. So, to defend myself, I changed my payroll signature to Thomas L Glenn III, a clumsy moniker I’ve been stuck with ever since.
As I consequence of my father’s chiseling, after I joined the army and was transferred to the east coast, I did everything I could to conceal my whereabouts from him. I was successful. One day, years later, I got a call from a police department in California telling me that my father had been killed in a bar brawl. My guess is that he started it because of his violent racial prejudice and antisemitism. The police asked me what I wanted done with the body. I said that I was estranged from my father and wanted nothing to do with his funeral arrangements. They told me he would be buried in a potter’s field.
Because of my father’s poor fulfillment of paternal duties, I continue into old age to have mixed feelings about Father’s Day. I treasure my relations with my children and am profoundly grateful for their honors to me on that day. But my bitterness toward my own father, his failures and even attempted exploitation of me, leave a fowl taste. Father’s Day remains a bitter day for me.