My Dad lived a million lives.
He lived in an orphanage.
He saved his brother’s life.
He went to prison for racketeering.
He was friends with Willie Mays and Wilt Chamberlain.
He had dinner with US presidents.
He was well read and gave great advice.
He was a political animal and had a voracious appetite for winning.
He was competitive and successful.
He was a serial entrepreneur – he’d lose it all and win it right back.
He was the most brilliant man I’ve ever known.
He was manic depressive.
When he was in prison for racketeering he wrote to Art Buchwald – the longest running columnist for the Washington Post – and told him he wanted to be a writer. Art agreed to be his mentor and the two became incredibly close (Art eventually became my older sister’s godfather).
When I was six months old my dad was managing malls in Pittsburgh when shopping malls were the big thing. But he realized he still wanted to be a writer and decided he was done with the Northeast and corporate America. He went on a ‘walkabout,’ found St. Simon’s Island in Georgia and decided to relocate the whole family there. He started a sailor’s magazine called, ‘The Travelers Guide’ which was successful for a few years until he was sued and it went bankrupt.
At the age of forty-five he decided he wanted to be a sailor. So he bought a sail boat and taught himself to sail.
But things were starting to go downhill between my parents and my Dad started sleeping on the sailboat. After twenty-five years of marriage my mom divorced my dad. Neither of them ever told me why.
I knew my dad did some really nasty things to my mom and sister. I loved him, but I also loved my mom and sister…so I was stuck in a weird love-triangle. It was complicated.
My mother was kind to spare me the details of what happened. If she had told me I would have had to confront my dad, but I didn’t want to confront him because I worshipped him. In the back of my mind knew he’d done some messed up things but I forgave him because he never hurt me.
In the divorce court I had to decide which parent to live with…