He also had the unfortunate talent of being a habitual liar. This became clear when time after time he would tell me something that always proved to be untrue. Usually over some small, inconsequential matter. For instance, he would ask if one of my sisters had gotten his birthday card and of course they hadn’t, because it had never been sent. Or he would state that he had sent a gift for my nephew at Christmas and when it didn’t show up he’d use his standard line of “I’ll have to get a trace put on it.”
You can only hear those lines so many times before you catch on and it gets old. Maybe that’s why he kept changing his women so much. To my knowledge he was married at least seven times and there is a good sized chunk of time unaccounted for. We had stopped communicating for a time due to the fact that he had changed his telephone number after cashing some checks from the military that were mine. You see, I’m named after him and since we share the same name it was rather easy for him. What’s a little thing like being the only person to stand by him to come before money, right?
It wasn’t until I was away in the first Gulf War that I decided to make an effort to reconcile and so I got my mother to call my aunt (his twin sister) to see if he wanted to talk. Of course he did but it ended up stalling out once again after I had driven several hours to see him and my half-siblings. I only ended up meeting one of them, the twin boys (yup, he was a twin that had twins) never showed up. Maybe they learned a thing or two from him.
Because he was such a habitual liar it was hard to tell truth from fiction where he was concerned but there was a time or two where I thought he really had let his guard down and let me have a peek inside of the man. Once was about his time in Vietnam and the other was about things that had happened to him in the family when he was young. But hell, what do I know? Like I keep saying, the man could talk and spin a lie like no other.
We’re not sure if my grandfather was really my grandfather. There was something going on and old man Bennett swore the twins weren’t his and he kicked my grandma out of the house and divorced her. Grandpa took her in and gave the children his name. At least that’s how the story goes and most of the interested parties have passed on so we’ll probably never know the truth. He’s still grandpa to me though, no matter what. Maybe that had something to do with why Dad was the way he was.
Now I’m a father and the way I feel about it is that it’s my job is to ensure that my son never turns out like the grandfather that he’s never known. You see, I had my son a bit late in life. I was forty-two years old when he was born and my father’s death preceded that birth by about seven and a half years. It sounds a bit harsh to say but I think my son is better off never knowing his grandfather. Never having to be disappointed as to why he infrequently sees him or calls him or by the lies he tells about cards and gifts, none of which were ever asked for.
It is a harsh assessment but also a fair one. You reap what you sow after all. I guess we’ll see what kind of a job I’ve done in a few decades.
Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.