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Entry date: 4-19-2022 - Family is hard sometimes - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

I’ll be out and about doing my daily stuff, you know the drill, and I’ll think about something, and it will occur to me that I haven’t blogged about it yet. I sit here now, time on my hands, and ready to write, and I can’t remember a single thing I wanted to write about. It’s frustrating, to say the least, but I knew days like this would come.

Sure, there are lots of topics I haven’t tackled yet. Is today the day to tackle this one or that one? I don’t know. Here’s a tough one, I guess. I hope I don’t make anyone mad.


On Saturday, Rhondi and I drove her dad out to Big Frank’s house. This is sort of complicated, so follow along. Big Frank is the guy Rhondi grew up thinking was her dad until she found out that Doug, who is her biological father, is her dad. Doug and Frank were very close friends in Colorado in the 70s. The best of friends and, well, things happened.

When I came into the picture in 2005, this story was nothing short of interesting to me. I felt for the tough situation Rhondi had been put in and how it would be a difficult thing to navigate for all the parties involved. As my wife shared with me more and more details of her childhood, though, I came to see a picture that was hard for me, as an outsider, to stay neutral on.

It is my belief that Rhondi’s mom and Frank did not always have her best interests in mind, nor did they do right by her a lot of the time. Sure, I wasn’t there, I’ve only heard Rhondi’s side of the story, and I’m biased, but the facts don’t really provide much of a case for them. This part of things, though, is Rhondi’s story to tell or not and I’ll leave it at that.

I share that stuff because I’ve become rather prejudiced when it comes to Frank over the years. I’ve never really understood what role he wanted to play in Rhondi, or for that matter, my life. At times he was kind and seemed to want to help where he could and, at times, it didn’t seem like he wanted anything to do with us. Rhondi is a dutiful daughter, though, and I’ve supported her efforts to be a good daughter to all her parents, biological and otherwise.

Trips out to the Buckeye area, where Frank lives, are not my favorite thing. There were several times when I went out there to help with something, including moving him into his current house when his wife, BJ, was still alive that were less than stellar. It sounds like I’m bitching about this person, but I’m really not. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve never really gotten to know him.

The trip out on Saturday was different. Frank’s age and lifestyle are quickly catching up with him and I met a much humbler, much more open guy. We’ve never really talked a whole lot about anything of substance, over the years, but there was something endearing on Saturday. I felt like I was a bit more than just Rhondi’s husband and maybe someone that Frank actually saw as another person.

Rhondi’s aunt Mona (Frank’s sister) was in town, too. She’s a trip. It would be ungentlemanly for me to wax further on Mona, and again, it’s Rhondi’s story to tell, but I will say that I struggle to find a comfort level with her. I feel bad about that. I feel like she was trying to connect with me on some level, but it wasn’t a place where I could meet her halfway on Saturday.

When we got there, Frank busted out with some Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select. Wow is that good stuff. I’ve always been a fan of Jack Daniel’s, but this is several levels better than old No.7. If you have the means, I highly suggest it if you are a fan of Lynchburg’s finest. It also is highly effective in creating a buzz and I realized quickly that sipping was key. In fact, I only had one small glass during the time we were there. It was hard to turn down a second because it was so good, but I needed to keep my wits about me.

Rhondi and I made food for Doug, Frank, and Mona. It was probably the best carne asada I have ever made. The conversation of the day didn’t really include me, so I could focus on the meat. It was a lesson I needed to learn. I hate being the grill guy at a gathering because I am easily distracted. On Saturday, though, I focused and pulled the steak off the grill at the right time.

Rhondi took care of everything else, so it was all delicious as usual and for the first time in almost 17 years of knowing the guy, Frank was complimentary about food Rhondi prepared. This marked another change in this man that I have known but not really known. He’s usually reluctant to eat when he very occasionally comes over to our house, even when Rhondi has taken great pains to prepare something he would like. Another sticking point, clearly, for me to be prejudiced about when it comes to hanging out with him.

Listening to the chat, though, between Rhondi’s two dads revealed to me, for the first time, the true affection between the two of them. Doug, who had more than one helping of the Sinatra Select, was sharing with Frank that there was a whole group of grandkids that wanted to know him and see him. It was kind of validating and heartbreaking at the same time. Frank didn’t know what to say, which was sad, but I saw a level of understanding in his eyes and a twinkle of fear that explained a lot to me.

It showed me that Frank has clearly had a fear of being rejected by my family and I understand why. Doug is such a good, stand-up guy, and has been there for Rhondi, the kids, me, everyone, really, and how could Frank measure up to that? I hope he heard Doug, though, and heard him say that there is a family who wants to know him because it is true.

See you tomorrow.

A dragline. Frank is really good at operating these.

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