Hearts Home

I was an emotional desert, sandblasted and laid to waste by the years of ignoring what I needed from those around me. I was bright and shiny; I knew my assets and molded them into a near perfect package. The problem was even with all the bells and whistles it wasn’t enough, I still struggled with the horrible need to make my father see ME, I remained the same little girl, who wanted her father to say,

“It is going to be just fine, I will protect you. I won’t let the monsters get you. I am Proud of you.

My father had begun to soften; he found his heart in the most unlikely of places. After years of dating women who though not near as horrifying as my mother often reminded me of her, he finally found one that was the polar opposite. Found her and nearly lost her, but she stomped her foot and laid down the law, “marry me or leave”. After years of friendship and a lifetime of knowing each other, my father found his true soul mate in Texas, in his sister-in-law.

Is that incest?

My brother asked this question. I laughed in part because it was a silly question and in part, because I believe my brother felt truly threatened by the idea of our father’s remarriage. He might lose his best friend to another, to love. Our father and his soon to be wife had known each other since elementary school, she had married his brother at eighteen and raised five children with him in a small West Texas town. My uncle passed in 1977, for years my Dad and my Aunt had been friends. For years, they would visit when he visited his mother. Their friendship was based on shared history, shared values and shared interests over time it evolved into something much different than either expected.

The Best Wedding Day

Theirs was a true love story. They married in 1990 surrounded by their children, grandchildren, friends and other extended family. Honestly, we didn’t know quite what to make of each other or our new relationships at the time. Suddenly cousins were siblings of a sort. Despite being cousins, we didn’t know each other well in the early days; we had to work to find how we fit.

I did not recognize my father after his marriage. He was easier, softer and kinder. My stepmother soon became the center of everything for all of us, drawing us in and together. She also became my heart mother, the holder of secrets and my confessor. She was the one person I had ever seen tell my father he was wrong but say it with such kindness he would smile and ask for a hug! This didn’t happen instantly; that softening of the heart happens as a person recognizes they are loved despite their flaws.  He was loved passionately by his wife; he was loved without conditions or history by his new ‘children’ and grandchildren. He was drawn into the life he had always dreamed of, always wanted. My father was finally the patriarch of family extending generations. My brother slowly grew to accept our new stepmother as a part of life, she was there to stay and she didn’t take away from him. His relationship with our father remained exactly what it had always been, best friends.

A small part of a large family

Two years after my father married, I was carjacked and shot, the first person I saw when I awoke from a coma was my father. When I believed I might not survive I asked for three things:

  1. That I survive long enough to tell my sons I would always watch over them;
  2. That I could tell my father I had become a woman he could be proud of;
  3. A last cigarette (don’t hate).

I did survive but struggled with the relationship with my father even then. His view of me remained a historical view without context. There came a time when I finally had to either be willing to give him some of the context or accept defeat, it was then my stepmother became my confessor. It was over coffee one early morning after a random comment by her about my ‘exotic’ looks as a child the story of my childhood began to unfold.

I swore her to secrecy

Yes, I did this. We struggled with the idea that my secrets were becoming hers and my pain was the wall between my father and I. Finally, over many early morning coffee confessionals, tears and hugs we also agreed that my secrets were killing my soul. My heart mother knew my father would never hear the secrets from me. She knew he couldn’t because I couldn’t tell, but she could and did. No, not all of them because even she didn’t know them all and some she agreed were mine to tell or not. Like me, my father had told her many of his own secrets and she was able to piece together our life apart, our life in his absence. Without blame and without breaking her promises she was able to begin to build bridges between us and heal old wounds.

We found some of our way

With her great love for both of us, we found our way toward each other. It wasn’t always easy; we were a prickly pair, both ready to take umbrage even where no offense was intended. We learned to hug though, not just those

My Heart Not Divided

cursory hugs you give family members because it is expected, but those hugs you give because you want to be right there, right in someone’s arms because you love them and it feels perfectly good and right. We learned to say, “I love you”, mean it and not forget.

I didn’t get over my jealousy of my brother’s relationship with our father; it changed though from jealousy of their closeness to jealousy of the missing time.

In 2001, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I watched closely as his brilliant mind withdrew. My wonderful heart mother was his primary caregiver and with medicine, the march of that horrible disease was slowed to a crawl. In 2008, my heart mother fell and hit her head, she passed away two days later. At her interment, my father held my hand, leaned over and whispered to me;

“I am done”

He stopped taking his medicines, all of them. He stopped taking his medicine for Alzheimer, for his heart, for his blood pressure. His health rapidly declined. My father passed away in November 2009, almost 13 months to the day after the love of his life.

I miss my father and my heart mother. I miss watching their marriage. I miss the relationship I eventually developed with my father as an adult. He is the one person who ultimately saw me, demanded of me my best and

How I always see them
Just Loving Perfectly

thought I was precious.

By the way, yes my father did tell me

‘I am proud of you’

One of the greatest gifts of all.

One way I will always see my Dad


  1. Androgoth says:

    This feels too personal for me to be commenting
    on as I am rather new to your Space but I will say this…

    Time has a way of finding us, the path is not always so straight forward or clear and yet with the passing of time we are rejuvenated… I am pleased that both you and your father found that path and of course the memory lives on within you.

    Have a very nice rest of evening Val 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

    • You shouldn’t feel as if you can’t comment. There is a very personal story in Broken Chains, if was meant to be private I wouldn’t have put it up. You are more than welcome to read the entire story and comment.

      It is a serial story, read from the first story to the last, it will make more sense that way.

      XX Val XX

      • Androgoth says:

        Yes I will take a look back through your posts my friend and thank you for replying to me on these comments, not everyone in WP does this and although I do the same on my own Space, it is not something that everyone takes part in. I hope that your evening is a very nice one Val 🙂

        Androgoth XXx

  2. I wan’t going to comment as this posts a bit old now, but just wanted to say thanks. 137551

  3. I’m so very happy for you Val. God bless and help us treasure what we have and not yearn after what we don’t. Peace, Eric

  4. ~~~OO000, Dear Val,
    You have taken my breath away with this most heartbreaking, amazing, beautiful, raw story.

    Thank You for sharing this. You are a gorgeous writer. Xxxxx

    Love Love Love.

    You must send this in for publication to Women’s Home Journal….

    The missing NEVER stops. NEVER.

    • Oh Kim this story was a difficult one, it took a few weeks and four separate entries because it was a journey of nearly 50 years. I know I will always miss my Dad, who he was to me and the relationship we ultimately developed. I don’t think this part can be told with out the other parts, it is to long for publication. Maybe someday the entire story of all my parents will go into a book, maybe.

      Thank you for the compliment.



      • Yes, but you must make it fit the format for publication. I sooo love it! XX

        • Thank you so much, mostly for the encouragement. I saved my father’s story for last in the saga of my second families story. My mother came first, she was easier to write though a more difficult story. I don’t think the two can be separated though as his absence in the early years were for a reason, not a just cause but a reason.

          My anger at his absence, that was justified and her story provides that reason. That is why someday perhaps I will take all the stories of my first and second families and put then together. Some of the stories of my first family I have written outside of Broken Chains.

  5. I’m glad that I dropped here, and that I read so beautiful story.
    I lost my mother years ago, and I still miss her. I believe, that she still protects me from heaven.
    Have a wonderful Sunday Valentine 🙂

    • Sabina, Hi

      I am glad this is the first story you read. Hearts Home was the last in a series about my father, our relationship was complex and difficult. I will always be grateful we found our way to each other before he was lost. Welcome to Tilted Tiara, it is my hope you find other things here you enjoy equally as well.


  6. Wiping away tears…

    • Hopefully good ones?

      • Yes, it was a beautifully written and touching story. I have many of the same issues with my mother, who is still alive. Old wounds keep us distant. I don’t have a person such as your “heart mother” to help us bridge those gaps. Hearing “I am proud of you” would be huge. We only recently accomplished “I love you.”

        • Having now written the story of both my ‘second’ parents it is amazing to compare the differences in my relationship to each of them. My father and I, our walk toward reconciliation was extremely long more than half my life in fact. We had already started before he married my third mother, my heart. What she did was break down the final barriers between us, forcing us each to take see with new eyes.

          Old wounds hurt, more sometimes than new ones. Pulling the scabs off is a terrible process. All you can do is try if it is important. It was important for me with my Dad. With my Mom, not so much after the first time. I was fortunate in having my a mediator, but sometimes it just takes someone willing to take the first step to say this is what I need.

          • You are right about old wounds. I don’t know if it would be worth it to try to rehash old stuff. I really gain a lot of insight from your posts. It takes courage to share so much.

  7. I got shiver and goose bumps reading this, Val.
    Here’s a great big Hugs for you.


  8. This series should be part of required reading — because so many relationships are built on misunderstanding and hurt. I am so glad you found your way out, glad for your step-mother’s comfort and love. Glad you found your Dad before too long. Glad that you can be at peace, knowing that he knew you loved him and that you knew he loved you, and that he was proud of you.

    And the writing? Brilliant.

    • I am glad too. I felt there were so many things left to say when I lost him yet, there weren’t. His loss left a hole but oddly I was at peace as well. I loved my Dad, even when our emotional estrangement was complete I loved him so the coming together and healing, even if many of the secrets remained secrets was such a blessing, I think to both of us.

      My heart mother was one of the kindest women I have ever known. Her love for all of us was the greatest gift and we all gained from it.

  9. Wow! Just wow.

  10. Wow. I have shivers as I read this. I am proud of you as well for telling your story here and for all of your healing that I can tell you have done xx

  11. I am wiping away the tears here Val, yet again… I so admire all of your Courage.. It seems life certainly has dealt you with a huge amount of pain and obstacles to overcome.. But I am so happy you got to hear your dad say he was so proud of you.. Who wouldn’t be?… Lovely photos you have shared here too.. and I know this piece of writing cannot have been easy to write.. Hugs to you Val… ~Sue

    • You know Sue it wasn’t hard either. I wanted this piece especially to convey who he became, who we became. That was important to me. The story of my father and I was more complex, harder. But maybe because it was layered with love.

  12. Oh Val ..just want to hug you ..

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