I love reading other bloggers not only because of the sheer variety of our life stories and observations, but also because of the commonality of our experiences.
Mr. Scheez posted an entry entitled "Forgiveness", in which he expressed his feelings about his father's "extra-curricular activities." When I realized how long my reply to his post was, I decided it was best not to hijack his Comment Box and instead write a full entry of my own.
Like most families, mine has several skeletons in the closet. Deep, dark secrets that were not to be discussed openly - if at all - but discussed nonetheless, in hush-hush tones and while glancing furtively around to make sure the walls were not listening. Usapang matatanda, they would say, as they shooed us curious children out of the room while they murmured about...things.
Hence, I was already an adult when I confirmed my father's numerous affairs. The confirmation came straight from the old man himself, one rare night when we were alone and just shooting the breeze. We had been talking about something else entirely - and completely sober, mind you - when out of the blue bam! "Oh, by the way, may mga kapatid kayo sa labas."
My reaction was not one of hurt or shock but more of a curious "Well, holy shit, no kidding."
I've often maintained that "All men are pigs." And I say that with as much rancor and bitterness as I would say "The sky is blue." or "Lasagna tastes good." 'Tis merely an observation, and most of the time, a fact.
At any rate, my father's confession answered many questions about why there were so many rocky patches in my parents' marriage and why my mother has a long-standing grudge against certain relatives who knew but apparently didn't stand up enough for her.
His confession didn't exactly come as a shock, because children instinctively pick up things, especially when there is trouble at home. My uncles would often joke about how my dad had a girl in every port - literally, because he was a globe-trotting man - and that I should go and meet my illegitimate siblings some day. These jokes were met with much annoyance from my aunts and a stern "Tst!" from my grandmother, so I didn't give them much thought. My uncles played all sorts of pranks on us and this wasn't anything unusual.
I had my first inkling that these jokes were half-meant when I was about 12. My mother - usually a quiet, serene woman - had been in an extended state of agitation, eventually replaced by a state of anger mixed with palpable fear and panic. (I would find out years later that dad's mistress du jour had gone Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and had threatened to kill us so she could have my father all to herself. Sweet lady, nuttier than a fruitcake.)
I think all children would rush up to aggressively protect their mothers' feelings and interests: I know I would've hated my dad intensely had I discovered his infidelities much earlier on. Not because of any possessive notion that only my mom should have access to my dad, but in hindsight, more because of the pain and anguish he inflicted upon her.
While it really isn't about you, as others have pointed out, it most certainly does involve you, simply because two people you love are also inextricably involved. Whatever resentments I have towards my father do not stem from his marital infidelities; they come from other issues altogether. I'm pretty sure, though, that my half-siblings - whoever and wherever they may be - are the ones who must hate him the most. I am the legitimate first-born son and there are certain moral, societal, and legal guarantees protecting that status.( I just chuckled as I wrote that because last month my brother stated that dad had had many other trysts long before marrying our mother - resulting in at least one child born out of wedlock pre-dating yours truly.)
But chuckling aside, for better or worse, I have had a complete family unit growing up. Obviously, my half-siblings did not have that privilege, and how deeply that has affected their lives I do not know. To this day, my spinster aunts are still very reticent about discussing les affaires de mon pere. It's easier to wheedle bits and pieces out of my uncles - must be some kind of guy thing. My brother, who has far more time on his hands than I do, has been my best weasel thus far. I hear reports of sightings, and that at least one half-sib looks like our sister, and lives quite near the old neighborhood where we grew up.
I am most curious to meet him. And the ones in Germany. And Singapore. And Guam.
My mother, of course, need not know. I don't believe she'd have the same equanimity as my ex-sister-in-law did when my brother recently and officially presented her with his four extra-marital spawn (from two different women, mind you) at a recent bienvenida for her, my nephew, and niece. My legitimate nephew, for his part, gamely played Big Brother to all of them. My niece was non-plussed as long as she remained lolo's girl.
While my mother has learned to love and accept her illegitimate grandchildren as her own, I can only guess what anguish she initially went through seeing history repeating itself before her eyes a generation later.
What can I say? All men are pigs. The sky is blue. And lasagna tastes good.
And my brother is truly my father's son, in more ways than one.
It must be a guy thing.