father [fah–th er] noun
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Almon Charles Basden, Jr.
My father passed on in 2015 on the 18th day of January.
He had issues.
I was living 2,597 miles away at his passing.
He was born on December 16, 1932.
He was 83.
Normally, when I write about my family, there is much that I
choose not to reveal. Things and events not so savory, however,
this piece will not follow that premise.
This may become more than you, a reader who does not know me,
can take or wants to know. It may also appear as dirty laundry.
If the latter is your feeling, you are certainly correct.
My intention is to do nothing more than to get it off of my chest.
It is time for me to shake this skeleton.
This will be a long story, maybe more than a few parts.
I am not writing this to denigrate or berate anyone.
I am writing it to tell the truth as I know it, and as the evidence
I know of tells me that things had to have happened.
These are not made up lies or stories.
These are facts and results of adding those facts
together to fill in the gaps where there are no voices to help or words to remember
that can be written down and fit into the gaping spaces.
Please read objectively.
In another town and state, far, far away……..
When I was an explorer, just a happy small boy, new on the planet earth, I wanted to know everything.
I was like a cat with a shiny bead.
I couldn’t stay out of things.
I took everything apart, even before I knew what a screwdriver was.
I never had an exit or follow-up plan.
Most things, usually my toys, were taken apart, then lived in pieces under my bed, never to live in sunlight again.
My tool kit consisted of anything I could remove a screw with.
Steak knife with a cloth to protect my fingers.
Yeah, not elaborate at all.
I always wanted to see the parts that made a thing work.
Preferably as they were inside of the thing, but I was aware that was not possible.
So, take it apart.
I never hurt animals.
They made my eyes huge to watch them.
Animals are marvelous.
Here’s the back story.
How it began.
My ‘father’ and mother met back around 1951 or 1952. I figure it was in his last year of high school. I don’t know their exact ages, but the math is easy. I was born in 1954. My mother was 17 when I was born. The math makes my father 22 when I was born. My mother told me once that she was 15 when she met my father. That would make him 18 years old when they met. I know it’s only a three-year difference, but the time between 15 and 17 is no time to be making decisions about making babies. I know this sounds a bit old-fashioned, but I would never attempt to have a child with a woman, wife, until we had at least established firm foundations through jobs, housing, family insurance, a fund for the child’s schooling. Things kids need to have to make their life comfortable, starting out.
The story my father told me when I was young was that they wanted to get married, but she was too young. I think my mother’s family just didn’t like him. He was known as “Sonny” nearly his entire life. Anyway, my father and mother decided that she would get pregnant out-of-wedlock, and as I said, they would be forced to marry. However, I find this a bit sketchy.
My father has never liked me, and I have never been able to understand why. It’s something a son or daughter knows. It can not be revealed or defined, but it is there. A thing you just know. When I was eight years old, they filed and executed a divorce. I don’t know who initiated it, but my father has told me that my mother had been unfaithful to him at one point. This caused him to do the same, “revenge infidelity” I guess. She had a child in 1960, Kary, whether it is his or not, I do not know, only because he raised that doubt. He is my youngest brother, Kary. He is my brother. On the other side, my father’s infidelity resulted in a child, my half-sister. She is the only female sibling I have. Her name is Cindy. Kary and Cindy live in Washington state. Not together. Cindy is married. She has two sons and two daughters. Kary has a daughter. Cindy’s children stay in touch with her and her two sons still live at home. I know none of their ages. I love both of my brothers and my sister with all of my heart.
Kary has a daughter he never visits. I believe she lives somewhere in California. Kary’s a good kid. He’s my brother. I love him.
As I said, I knew from every minute that we, my father and I, were together or in the same room, he felt a need to demean and berate me, and he never missed the opportunity. I never ever wanted to believe it, nor did I want to accept it, but it was to be and always happened, as if he looked forward to it. He ridiculed my hair, my clothes, music I liked, any slang I used (I WAS a high school senior so “Man,” “Heavy,” etc.,) my friends. Everything about me. I was no different from any other kid finally finishing high school in 1972. Actually, I was quite shy and timid. I didn’t date at all. I just couldn’t approach girls. (I’m not gay and it wouldn’t matter anyway.)
I’m getting way ahead of myself.
Back in my parent’s days, if you were a man and got someone pregnant, you had to marry them. I don’t make the rules, but that’s how it was. It seems rather honorable to me.
Why do I find my father’s story sketchy? I’ll tell you.
My father has always thought of himself as a gift to women. In the very few years, all of around ten in two different durations, that I have ever had the opportunity to be in the same room with him, he always bragged about his activities with women, told really terrible sexual jokes, and quite simply displayed himself as ‘God’s’ gift to women, most certainly if his friends were within ear shot. A true misogynist. Quite vulgar in my opinion. I do not see women as “things.” I see them and treat them as lovely, wonderful caring humans who are to be treated with respect, whether in their company or not. At all times.
Well, having this in mind, it only makes sense that my birth put a severe cramp in his style. He was now stuck at home. No, that wasn’t going to happen. I think this did not sit well with him.
As I write more, my reasons will present themselves.
Immediately before or after mother became pregnant, my father joined the Air Force. He was stationed in Germany. While my mother was on a trip to Germany, where my father was stationed, from Tacoma, WA., I was born at an Air Force base in Washington state in Moses Lake. The base was named Larson. Tuesday, January 5, 1954. Early in the morning.
At this time, we were boarding to fly to Bremerhaven, Germany. My father was stationed in Landstuhl, about 300 miles south of there. This is what I was told when I was a boy. I can not elaborate, because we never talked. I never have had the opportunity to get the intricate facts about this information. I certainly wanted to know more.
My next recollection is of a house we lived in on W. Wishkah St., between S. Jefferson and S. Michigan Streets in Aberdeen, Wa. What a shit hole of a town. The house was razed many, many years ago and now a huge motel stands there. The Aberdeen Inn.
This was the house where the divorce papers were served. I was eight years old. My father had a small television repair shop in the front of the house. I believe he was successful. As I stated, I have very few facts for this time, actually for two reasons. First, I was just too young, and second, I never got the opportunity to get the facts from my father or mother. In the last 20 years, dad was never around, and he would never let me close enough to him to have a conversation with. Never close enough emotionally, never close enough actually. However, I DO remember seeing my father hit my mother and me crying because of what I was seeing. I remember running upstairs to my room to cry on my bed, hearing my father yell bad words, then a door slam and my mother appearing next to me on the bed, also crying. I was so young and so afraid. Of what? I really don’t know. Afraid of seeing my mother in pain, afraid of the hate I saw in my father. Afraid of what children do not understand. We always fear what we do not understand.
There are many things we learn from our parents, some because they want us to, things they teach us because they want us to be like them, some because we watch and mimic what we see. The latter probably the most dangerous because they do not realize that they are teaching. What they do because children follow their parents like a kitten follows its mother or it’s owner. What parents do is absorbed, printed firmly and never forgotten, as a training tape. If you doubt me, speak with and ask these questions of an anger management counselor. They will back it up.
Think about this. You’ve seen the movie, and now you and your date are out to dine. The waiter comes to your table, or maybe at the bar, and you place your order. The waiter leaves, your drink arrives and you have time to wait. Your eyes wander even as you chat with your date. You look at the people, the decor, the lights, you look at places the staff doesn’t want you to look. Cracks in the floor, dust and cobwebs on the chandelier, the worn out carpet, etc. Your children do the same thing to you, however, they are sponges. What they see, they absorb. I’ll let that sink in…….. They watch you do everything you do.
I actually have more questions than answers, so my agenda really isn’t formed, much less, complete. As of January 18, 2015, it will never be complete, and will never be realized. When I approached my ‘father’ with questions, he pulled away and hid in his shell. He would never let me get close, he wouldn’t give me the time of day. I approached him once after I had moved to Seattle from Aberdeen, in my mid 30s, and was about to just give him a hug when he pushed me away like I was diseased or, because of his racist attitude, black or something. He was a bone deep racist. His father taught it to him. He did his best to indoctrinate me during my senior year, but I wouldn’t do it. I think this infuriated him. Actually, I’m sure it did.
I know, everyone has closets with skeletons in them. I can actually claim as I sit here, I really haven’t any. I have been open with my wife since day one, my family knows all about me, at least up to the point they all saw me leave for the east coast to get away from them and to marry, back in 2001. Well, I wasn’t TRYING to get away from them, but at the time, there was no unfinished business, and I was a single, unfettered man. Leaving them all behind was a bonus. There are a few I miss, one I stay in contact with, but the list is shrinking.
At some point, eight years into their marriage (my mother’s and father’s,) things went bad. I have never known why or what the cause was. I’ve asked, but neither side wants to admit to being wrong or guilty. Even though, this far down the line, it makes no difference who is wrong. I am just curious to know what actually happened. I want to see the skeletons.
OK, so, the divorce in 1962.
My mother told me once that while my father was studying at Grays Harbor College, he would remove his wedding ring in order to look single, and if it were true, I’m sure he “talked single.” I’m not sure if it is true. However, my father did express that he thought my youngest brother was not his. This probably said to base the fact that he conceived a daughter by another woman during his marriage to my mother in some form of revenge tactic or activity. She has been acknowledged as my sister with no regret by us three boys/brothers.
This happened in 1960 I believe. Cindy is the sister. I don’t know her exact birth date, but everyone in the family knows she is my father’s daughter, knows that she is our sister. There was never a doubt. From the day she was born, everyone, in the small town of Aberdeen, in Washington state who knew my father and mother, knew she was my father’s child. He has denied it for 50 or so years. But everyone knew and knows he lied. After 50 years of hiding the truth, there would actually be a bit to gain.
Now, I can understand not wanting to admit to wrong doings, but when everyone has figured out the answers many years ago, there really isn’t much to lose by telling the truth. Some don’t see things that way, but then, maybe their closet isn’t as big as their skeletons. Maybe their closet IS huge, but their skeletons are way out of control. I am not sure, either way. I don’t keep skeletons. I live life in the open, as I said above.
Cindy has always been sure of the entire matter, and I have always known that her suspicions were valid and were bound to be substantiated. Cindy is a very tenacious women. I have even told her that I know she knows the truth, and every time I visited my father over the years, I tried to tactfully bring it up and tell him, “We all know,” but he never gave in. He did not want to discuss it, ever. Today, I understand completely. It would either be painful for him to relive what he had done or he held too much fear of being exposed, even this many years later. However, it never was a mystery to anyone. Ever.
So, here is what happened.
My father was an opportunist. He took advantage of situations that came along in his life. Regardless of whether what he was doing was legal or not, he took advantage of every opportunity. When I was a boy, I don’t know why, he gave me a stereo. It was an 8-Track tape deck/turntable/radio (AM-FM) stereo made by Lloyds. It was nice for a 15 year old boy, but cheap none-the-less. Knowing how my father was, it was undoubtedly stolen. It did not come in a box, it was not wrapped and it looked like it came right out of a bookshelf in a house. How do I know? I remember exactly. One of the blades on the power cord was bent very badly, as if it had been yanked from the wall. The turntable’s rubber pad had coffee cup rings on it. There was a George Jones tape in it still. Cigarette ashes were all over it. I had to clean it to use it. It did not come from a store, and I seriously doubt that one day my father thought, “Kelly would really like to have this.” I don’t know positively where it came from, but my father spoke often about merchandise acquired from “train sales.” 2+2=? You do the math. “Train Sale, a collection of goods that have survived a train crash, (or similar transport,) that can not be sent to the vendor for distribution or sale. I’m not privy to information of how he got the information about these “train sales,” or where these “trains” crashed, but I certainly wish we had had internet capabilities in 1970-1972. Yeah, I’d love to find that on the innerwebz.
Anyway, about three years ago, Cindy finally took the step. She asked my father if he would participate in a DNA test by providing a swab. He said Yes. I was certain he would refuse, so when I heard that he would do it, there was much more in it that Cindy could imagine
She sent him the kit, he donated his part, cheek swab, she sent it off to the lab. It came back 99.99% positive. She hadn’t found her father. She had proven that he was her father. Me, my brothers, my mother and her friends and family and all of my father’s friends and family had already figured this out. Yes, Aberdeen was a small town and is shrinking yearly. Everyone knows everyone and everyone has been in every-bodies bed.
This is the sad part of the deal. He did something 50 years ago that he has lied about all along, to everyone who asked or knew or suspected him, as well as turning his back on Cindy’s mother and turning his back on Cindy. He used my mother’s imaginary infidelity as an excuse for his actions and continued to call her horrid names in mine and my two brothers’ presence when he spake of her. Then, when finally giving in to the truth, made no effort to apologize to anyone. He continuously called my mother “c*nt” all of those years and still did after admitting his indiscretion. I hated it, but I knew there was nothing I could say or do about it. Nothing, and it hurt and stung every time. My efforts and questions about this and more, directly to my father, had fueled his hate toward me, and consequently,gave him the opportunity to turn my family against me. I am now pretty much the “nut job” in the family, yet no one knows my side of the story. No one asks, no one questioned him. No one asks me. Maybe a bit of cognitive dissonance is in the soup. Today, it’s of no importance any longer. If asked, I would refuse to answer. They can have the bed they chose. I’m good in mine.
My theory is that he got Cindy’s mother pregnant, then made up the story about my mother, and Kary not being his son, to support his wrong doings. As they say, “Not rocket science.”
So, a major split in the family. My father, as always, considered himself to be the rational one of the equation. He was always right. Always. “Just ask him.”
Well, he bailed big time after the divorce.
While he lived in Seattle, he made trips to Aberdeen, where we were all living, now and then, but they got to be few and far between very quickly. He would bring toys, bikes, candy, yada, yada, but never take us anywhere. Never to the circus, the carnival, movies, to get ice cream, nothing. Hell, my teachers knew what I was going through and took me fishing, many times. Lake Sylvia, the Humptulips River, all kinds of places. My father? No, he never took any of us three boys anywhere. He never took my mother anywhere but to the bar on those nights. “Leave the boys with Kelly.” What an asshole. He created the problem that he depended upon me to keep in line.
A recipe for failure was in the mix.