My Dad was, in my eyes the Greatest Father on Earth since I can remember. Aside from being an unbelievable provider for his family, he was everything else a kid could ever wish for. My Dad worked for a company in Wayne, N.J. called Cyanamid. They were t he original creator of the “cylum”, the plastic cylindrical device that was about 7 or 9 inches long and you cracked it so it would light up for times like when your car broke down or for trick or treating, they were great to have around the house or in your dash. He was in charge of the “tax division” there for over 20 years. We lived in a modest house in West Milford, N.J. for my kindergarten year and then moved 25 miles down the mountain to a small town right next to my Dad’s company called Pompton Lakes; this is where I went to school from first grade right up until graduation from Pompton Lakes High School in 1984.
This house was huge to me as a 1st grader, at least much bigger than the last house. The last house was a ranch, this one was a bi-level, I loved it, and it was right across the street from the middle school which had handball courts, basketball courts, a baseball field and the lake for fishing right next to the dirt bike trails. My sister is 3 yrs. older than I am and her name is Donna, she was good to me for as much as a pain in the butt I was her whole life, like when she was in high school and I would be waiting for her boyfriend to come down the hallway and launch a blanket over his head as I screamed to scare the life out of him!!! He screamed like a girl, it was so funny, plus just stupid things like trying to secretly record her talking to a friend on the phone with my little recorder to me being a drummer, a very loud drummer since I was 6 and my parents fully supporting me practicing all the time and jamming with the band down in the rec-room. I don’t get to talk to my sister very much as we are both so busy, that’s a lame excuse isn’t it? We should stay in contact more but that’s a whole other story.
My Mom was a stay at home Mom like most back in the 70’s when my sister and I were growing up, she was just unbelievable, and that’s an understatement, words can’t describe our relationship that I still cherish to this day, support from as long as I can remember, and through some tough times too, a divorce along with getting custody of my son, my life of alcoholism up until 7 yrs. ago when I quit drinking and other things that were very trying. I love my mother and have the upmost respect for her along with my sis Donna.
Right from 1st grade I was involved in baseball, basketball, football, soccer and ice hockey which was my favorite. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I was a very busy little boy always. My Father, aside from his regular job had a small accounting business that he ran from a spare room downstairs that he made his office with its own private entrance; he did people’s taxes from this office. No matter what though, I knew my Dad was going to be at my game, whichever sport it was, I was going to look at the bleachers and see my Dad ready to cheer on his son, no matter how much work he had he always found the time to make all of my games. I really wish I could say that for my son whose games I missed sometimes. I was in the pool/construction business through my son’s childhood and couldn’t make as many games as I would liked to and will always feel guilt for that. By the time I went into the pool business for myself he was a teenager and some of his sport days were over, but I’m grateful for the games I made.
My Dad made all the games right up until I stopped playing sports which was my Junior year in high school, I started as a freshman on Varsity basketball but the new coach was now sitting me as a Junior to look to the future and play younger guys, this was due to our team being awful but at that time, I believed it was wrong for the guys who where dreaming about college scholarships. I sometimes ask myself if my Dad’s estrangement has something to do with, how much “I let him down” when I stopped playing sports, he played Basketball at the college level for Rider College and did well, but I wasn’t going to sit no bench for anybody, remember I was 16 at this time in my life and I knew everything. The fact that I was becoming much more active in the band, “Black Licorice”, playing gigs and was with my first love, sports didn’t seem so important to me anymore. I really think this is one small part of my Father wanting nothing to do with me anymore, I don’t know.
When my son was born in 1991, he was a mini-me, we named him, Donald, Donald George Manns Jr. He, to this day is still my mini-me but only about 3” taller standing at 6’4”!!! My son's younger years was really the last time my Dad visited, I mean other than about 6 years ago when he came to visit me in the hospital when I had pneumonia. He and my Mom divorced when I was about 22 yrs. old. That hit me hard due to the fact of my Mom, who was an angel would be alone and thinking to myself, how the hell could he do this to my Mom!!! Especially the way he did it, after all these years of being with Mom, he leaves her a letter on the kitchen table saying he’s moved out and wants a divorce. I was so angry with my Father, not for the fact of divorcing my Mom, but for the way in which he did it, like a coward!!! I never really confronted my Father on this, I know he had to think and realize I was upset with him, but it seemed like my Mom was going to be O.K. She’s a hell of a strong independent woman. So we really never brought up our differences on the divorce subject.
My Dad got remarried not to long after the divorce and I attended, out of respect for my Father and his bride to be, even though I already knew her from “Serendipity School of Modeling” where she took some photos of me and the band for our promotional package, she was also a tax client of my dad's, this didn’t make me happy because of course my first thoughts were that they were having an affair while my Dad and Mom where still married, but I didn’t want to ruin what little relationship my Dad and I had at this time so I just kept my mouth shut, my thoughts to myself and was very nice and respectful to his new wife, Sue. My son Donald Jr. was about 7 or so when Dad remarried. My Dad visited us in Florida once and every time he and Sue would come from the Motel to the house they would leave after only about an hour long visit because Sue would complain of a stomach ache or a headache or whatever and they would leave. After awhile the visits just stopped, the phone calls where nearing an end and I couldn’t understand why, why doesn't my father want to watch his grandson grow up, why doesn't he want to see me as well? Every time I would call, if I was lucky enough that he answered the phone I got to talk to him, it would be short and usually about sports because we didn’t know enough about each other to talk about anything else, it was sports or the weather and real short. If the Witch Sue answered she would usually cover for my dad and say, “he’s not here Donald but I’ll tell him you called”, yea right, he’s sitting right there waving to her to get her attention so she tells me he’s not there. Sad but true.
Since I’ve been remarried and had a daughter named Kelsey, she is now 11 and my son Donald Jr. is 21 yrs. old. Yet my father remains unheard from, he missed all 11 years of Kelsey’s life, I mean he’s met her but she doesn't know who he is, she doesn’t even remember what he looks like, and my son’s last contact with him was probably when he visited me in the hospital 6 yrs. ago, maybe even not, it might have been as long as 10 years since he saw or talked to my son, it’s just so screwed up, it makes me want to cry to think of the great times he has missed and the worst thing is, I don’t know what the hell I’ve done. My sister, who now lives in San Bruno, CA. says they barely talk but at least they still talk, she and my Mom tell me it’s nothing I did or it has nothing to do with me, but I still struggle to understand why??? What is he running or hiding from, I don’t want his money, he’s not rich but I’m just stating, I don’t want anything from him except for him to be my Dad, and a Father in law to my lovely wife, and a Grandfather to his grandchildren. It’s amazing, but very true when I say that a day does not pass when I don’t think of my Dad. There’s so many things that remind me of a time from the past with him or just things that make me think of him, like the ocean, he always loved the ocean, my Dad and I would ride waves for hours at the Jersey shore so every time I’m at the Ocean or think of the ocean I think of him. The thing that gets me too is how damn proud of me he would be if he just knew what was going on in my life!!! It’s scary that the next time I’ll probably see my Dad will be at his funeral, and I still won’t know what the hell I did!
To me it’s like my Father is dead, that sounds terrible but when I talk about him, which isn’t very often except for with my wife, I talk as if he’s already gone. If any of my OS friends have any suggestions of advice of how I can better my situation with my Dad who I still love very much, please feel free to do so, I would appreciate it.