Sunday, November 23, 2008

My father...David Lee Shields

I've often wondered about my father, where he was, what he was doing, why he had made the choices he made concerning his children. Of all of his children, I may have the most memories of him, good and bad.

Last time I saw my father was in 1982. He came and spent a few days with us to work on my car. For the most part, it was an okay visit, but he wanted what he couldn't have. Too much water under the bridge. Too many years gone by. Too many wrong choices.

I yearned for my father's love. I never felt it, though I have been assured that he did love me. He was heartbroken when my mother took me away. Yet, he could never tell me this. Instead, he would rather dwell on the past, tell me that the stories about him were not true, put down my mother. Thing is, she never spoke a bad word about him. She told me that I would learn for myself what he was like.

Now he's gone. He never knew that I was married, never knew about my son, never knew his parents died. Walked away from everyone, never to be heard from again. We suspected he died long ago, but, one fateful day in July, I get a phone call from my brother, telling me that he passed away on May 11, 2008, in Los Angeles. Whoa....wait a minute! He was alive all these years and contacted no one, not even his mom, whom he adored? I don't get this!

So many unanswered questions. So many years, so many changes. He didn't know any of them.

His death certificate arrived in my mailbox on Saturday. I suspected it was on it's way, the check had cleared just days earlier. Buried, Riverside National Cemetery. Died VA Medical Center, Los Angeles. Cause of death: Pulmunary edema and congestion (hours), recurrent pleural effusion (days), metastatic carcinoma of the lungs (months) with liver metastasis (months). Not an easy way to die.

My father was a lifetime heavy smoker, so lung cancer was not a surprise. He was 64 years and just 1 day shy of 2 months old. His substance abuse problems were part of the reason he was alienated from his family. My heart breaks because of his choices.

My father had been a construction worker. My grandfather had taught all of the boys to work in construction. It proved to be a good skill to them. My father worked building The Inn at Spanish Head and had worked building some of the Sunriver Resort. He also worked to build many houses in the Eugene, Oregon area.

I remember he loved cars, especially fast cars. Mom remembers him drag racing with me in the back seat, scared her because in those days, you didn't seat belt your kids in. Many cars didn't have any seat belts at all.

My father only went to school through the 10th grade, but obtained his GED on 30 December 1982.

He leaves 4 children, myself, my brother Tony, half sister Yvette and half sister Heather.


AJ Gorham said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I can relate when it comes to longing for a father's love. It changes us...I suppose we become stonger in some ways. You are a stong woman and I like to think I am too.

Kurt And Jeana said...

Great post Cassie. It's so nice to learn more about you. And thank you for updating your blog.