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Wednesday, August 07, 2019


Just a matter of hours ago, I was informed by one of my cousins, that my biological father, Leland Klug, had died.

I posted a blurb of sorts -- over on Facebook, suggesting that a longer blog on the subject (this one here) was forthcoming... as there are a lot of things for me to process, in light of this news.

My mother and father divorced when I was just finishing up with first grade.  My older brother and I were put in the custody of our mother, and she moved us back to our hometown.

A very brief time later, my mother remarried and we moved across the state -- where I lived until I moved away post-college and in the early stretches of adulthood.  While not an ideal childhood overall (plenty of tales for another time), my stepfather was a great guy -- supportive, in every meaning of that word.  He was a good father, no question.

My biological father, however -- basically vanished after the divorce.  Child support payments ended, as did mail correspondence, phone calls and visits.

My older brother and I have the same final memory of face-to-face contact with our dad -- when he came to our new home on the other side of the state, picked us up for a week of touristing around The Black Hills -- all of this when I was in about 4th grade.  He lovingly called my stepfather, "Dead-Head Fred" (perhaps a good indication of the inappropriate things my brother and I were exposed to as children -- Yes, badmouth our new stepfather -- I'm sure that's good for kids to hear).

And that was the last time I saw this man in person.  What age is an average 4th-grader?  8?  I'm 45 now.  Quite a stretch.

There was an additional greeting card (hidden in a card from my paternal grandparents -- also had little contact with this entire side of the family following the divorce) when I graduated high school.  I recall breaking down at the sight of his unique, tell-tale penmanship, and then opening the card to see these well wishes from the man who had deserted us.  My best friend was thankfully with me when this all went down (thank you, Eric).  Clearly some issues with my missing father at that point in my life -- were unresolved. 

He always signed any correspondence with, "Love, P.W.K."  When I was a kid, he was always known as "Pee Wee".  Thus, Pee Wee Klug (PWK).

I have a hard time recalling much correspondence/contact with him throughout college and into my post-college years.  I know that he had remarried (Nell later died.  I had never met her or some step-siblings who exist).  The last time I recall actually talking to him (on the phone) was around 2003.  I had already been with my other half for a few years, and I don't recall the impetus for us getting into contact.  I wanna say it was good old-fashioned curiosity.  And I think that was it.  Of course, about a decade ago, I reconnected with my Uncle Stan (out of Tucson -- and my dad's older brother).  He was a bitter old gay man (i.e. an absolute hoot) and a writer as well.  My other half and I hit it off with him, and once we moved to Los Angeles, visited him frequently.  And I was reunited with my two aunts and some cousins -- whom I'd not seen in probably 40 years!  Last year, Uncle Stan died.

And there were mentions to me (and to my other half -- whispers as not to upset me) that Pee Wee wasn't doing well.  Lots of health issues (including the diabetes I have the pleasure of dealing with -- from both sides of my lineage, thank you very much).  But honestly, I figured there'd be a call when he had died, and that I would acknowledge the information and move on with my day.

After all, what connection do I have to this man?  He was never there for me.  I have memories of him up until the age of 8.  And he had failed to do his job (in practically every way, aside from siring me) as a father.

While I had developed a good relationship with Uncle Stan, and had totally mourned his passing -- what would my reaction be when I got that call that Pee Wee was gone?

Well, today, I can answer that question.

There were tears.  There was also anger.  Resentment.  Pain.  Confusion.

I barely knew this man, and here I was -- in sort of a whirlwind of emotions (which continue at the present moment).  Why should I care?  Why should I grieve?  He clearly didn't give two shits about me or my brother.

Is it a deeper, primordial response to your immediate ancestor's expiration?  Something buried inside of my brain which "knows" that he's gone?  After all, I wouldn't be who I am (biologically and via his absence) without him, right?

I don't like this feeling of helplessness -- as far as properly (and finally) defining what I'm feeling.

Of course, I called my older brother with the news, and we had a long conversation.  Obviously, I won't discuss his thoughts, as that's not my place.  But I can begin a basic understanding that "I (we) was short-changed" -- for so many reasons.  No contact with the complete other side of my family, no relationship with the man (sperm-donor) who helped create me.  Growing up feeling (knowing) that my own father didn't want anything to do with me?  Who does that?  And what does that understanding (to a fucking 8 year old) do to a kid and his psyche and his sense of worth?

I know there are probably other factors which were at play while I was growing up.  And there are too many of those "what if's" to go through at this venue.  But the fact that there are still "what if's" at all -- is a problem.

I'll never have all of the answers.  But I hope (as my brother said) that there will be some sort of closure (albeit, never 100% complete -- there simply can't be now).

I guess I secretly wished that one day, there would have been an apology, a reconciliation -- CLOSURE.

But it's not meant to be.

I liken my feelings to the loss of a great celebrity.  Someone whom you've admired from afar -- and then they were suddenly gone.  "I just always thought they'd be around.  They were a constant in my life.  And now they're gone.  I didn't know them personally, but there was a connection of some kind."

Is it the same thing here?

I didn't know this guy (other than the first 6-8 years of my life) -- but there's a connection and a sense of loss.

Is it because he's now gone, and there is no possible forthcoming apology or much-needed closure -- and there never, ever will be, that I can now put the entire matter to bed -- to place him in the 100% memory box?

Sure, I didn't get the ultimate, death-bed apology (sorry I neglected, deserted, ignored you boys... and I apparently never loved you either) -- but the simple idea that I now KNOW THIS FOR CERTAIN -- is it's own form of closure?

I do believe this will be an ongoing process -- processing my anger, my resentment, my pain and those very real (although mostly hidden) feelings of desertion?

Fuck.  I mean really -- fuck.  It's not a grieving scenario.  It's an "all of this shit is coming up in my brain, my memories and my emotions".

As it is -- the only thing I can say is, "RIP, Pee Wee."  And that's the best thing I can say... 'cause he sure as hell wasn't a "Dad".

Thank you for your time.

And BTW, I had a passing thought, just a week ago -- that I'd be getting this call very soon...  And today, here it was.


Unknown said...

Mike, PeeWee used to stop here and visit once in awhile. I remember once when he stopped he was so happy, he had received a letter from yo and he brought it to share. I think he loved you boys very much, but like you said mitigating circumstances. I am sorry for your loss and for all the pain. I love both you and Wayne and wanted you to know that almost always when he stopped here we talked about both of you. He always wanted to know if we had heard anything about you. Just thought it was important to share this. I hope it helps a little bit. Please express my sympathy with Wayne as I don't know how to contact him.

Unknown said...

Sorry I didn't sign my name so you know who wrote this! Marilyn Neeman

a little bit 'bout klugula...

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