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Before I said good-bye, I went to the bathroom to mist one more time. As I came into his room, he was getting into a standing position. I watched him gather both his legs in one arm, twist himself 90 degrees by pushing against the headboard with the other arm, and then use both arms to hoist his own legs over the edge of the bed and onto the floor. When we hugged, I could feel his vertebrae, his ribs.

He smelled musty, like medicine sweat. The labor and delivery took three hours, start to finish. My father arrived a few days later. My parents took me out into a field, laid me on a blanket, and looked through the pages of a baby-name book.


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He wanted to name me Claire. Top, Lisa with her mother, in Saratoga, California, ; Bottom, Lisa with her father, three days after she was born, We looked it up. During the time my mother was pregnant, my father started work on a computer that would later be called the Lisa.

It was the precursor to the Macintosh, the first mass-market computer with an external mouse—the mouse as large as a block of cheese. But it was too expensive, a commercial failure; my father began on the team working for it, but then started working against it, competing against it, on the Mac team. The Lisa computer was discontinued, the 3, unsold computers later buried in a landfill in Logan, Utah. Until I was two, my mother supplemented her welfare payments by cleaning houses and waitressing. Then, in , the district attorney of San Mateo County, California, sued my father for child-support payments.

My father responded by denying paternity, swearing in a deposition that he was sterile and naming another man he said was my father. I was required to take a DNA test.

11 Signs You Are Your Father's Daughter

The tests were new then, and when the results came back, they gave the odds that we were related as the highest the instruments could measure at the time: But before that, just after the court case was finalized, my father came to visit me once at our house in Menlo Park, where we had rented a detached studio. By the time I was seven, my mother and I had moved 13 times. My father had started dropping by sometimes, about once a month, and he, my mother, and I would go roller-skating around the neighborhood.

His engine shuddered into our driveway, echoing off our house and the wooden fence on the other side, thickening the air with excitement. He drove a black Porsche convertible.

When he stopped, the sound turned into a whine and then was extinguished, leaving the quiet more quiet, the pinpoint sounds of birds. I anticipated his arrival, wondering when it would happen, and thought about him afterward—but in his presence, for the hour or so we were all together, there was a strange blankness, like the air after his engine switched off. There were long pauses, the thunk and whir of roller skates on pavement.

We skated the neighborhood streets. Trees overhead made patterns of the light. Fuchsia dangled from bushes in yards, stamens below a bell of petals, like women in ball gowns with purple shoes. My father and mother had the same skates, a beige nubuck body with red laces crisscrossed over a double line of metal fasts. A few times, I felt his eyes on me; when I looked up, he looked away.

He might have sewn them up. I knew he was supposed to have millions of dollars. She said my father had a lisp. It looks like a zigzag, or a zipper. There are thousands of different blacks. I whispered it so that they would see I was reluctant to mention it. The key, I felt, was to underplay.

He lives in a mansion and drives a Porsche convertible. He buys a new one every time it gets a scratch. The story had a film of unreality to it as I said it, even to my own ears. I brought it up when I felt I needed to, waited as long as I could and then let it burst forth. One afternoon around this time my father brought over a Macintosh computer. He pulled the box out of the backseat and carried it into my room and put it on the floor. This made me doubt he was the inventor.


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He pulled the computer out of the box by a handle on the top and set it on the floor near the outlet on the wall. He sat on the floor in front of it with his legs crossed; I sat on my knees beside him. He looked for the On switch, found it, and the machine came alive to reveal a picture of itself in the center, smiling.

He showed me how I could draw and save my drawings on the desktop once I was finished with them, and then he left. I worried that he had not really named a computer after me, that it was a mistake. For a long time I hoped that if I played one role, my father would take the corresponding role. I would be the beloved daughter; he would be the indulgent father. I decided that if I acted like other daughters did, he would join in the lark.

If I had observed him as he was, or admitted to myself what I saw, I would have known that he would not do this, and that a game of pretend would disgust him. On those nights, we ate dinner, took a hot tub outside, and watched old movies. Your Porsche. I pictured them in a shiny black line at the back of his land. In my work, my job is to find out all of the pieces and put them together.

Once I was ready, I made Mom tell me more. I learned she and the priest started out as friends. Back then, my dad was an alcoholic and a compulsive gambler. He worked long hours as a grocery store manager, yet Mom had three small children and no money for groceries. I felt a need to call the diocese in Bismarck, North Dakota. They shouldn't have given me the information, but they did.

As a child, I always felt very different from my three siblings.

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They were all much older than me — 10,12, and 13 — when I was born. I didn't even look like them, and it somehow felt like I was in the wrong family. Growing up, on three separate occasions, I asked my mom if I was adopted. She would just give me this strange look and say, "No, of course not!

The Secret Life of a Stay-at-Home Dad

Three years passed after those initial conversations with my mom about Father Ralph. Thoughts crept their way in: He could be my father. Seconds later, I dismissed them. I was married and had a baby girl. I had my therapy practice, and I had already gone through my own therapy to address growing up in the family of an alcoholic. I thought my life was settled. But my mom eventually revealed another layer to her story: "We fell in love," she confided in me. At first, I was excited by the idea. Then I got scared, and called my mom to try and get a sense of how she'd feel about our meeting.


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  6. She gave me his full name and phone number very willingly. Her support gave me courage, and amplified my feeling that meeting Father Ralph was something I needed to do. Alone and nervous in my bedroom, I called Father Ralph. When he answered, I took a deep breath and said, "This is Karin Krueger. I'm going to be in your area soon and I would like to have lunch.

    His voice was hospitable and accommodating, like an old friend. After we said goodbye, I was elated. But I just knew I had to take the chance. Three days before my conference was scheduled to begin, I flew to Mobile. Father Ralph picked me up at my hotel at 10 a. He was short, wore a baseball cap, and had a happy, outgoing presence. I thought we might go out for lunch and spend a couple of hours getting to know each other, but he already had the whole day planned.

    Right away, we enjoyed telling jokes and I discovered he had a dry sense of humor, just like mine. He took me to a few gardens that are famous in Mobile, and we talked and talked along the way. We had lunch at the Olive Garden, one of his favorite places, and I couldn't help but notice that his mannerisms were like mine, too.

    I've always expressed myself with my hands, as did he.

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    He's my father , I thought. I know it in my heart. It didn't quell my suspicions when he revealed that he had once driven from Alabama to Salt Lake City, Utah, where I live, just to see what I looked like. He chickened out after the missed call, and drove all the way back to Alabama. I rationalized that if he wasn't my father, he wouldn't drive all that way just to see me. It felt like I'd found my soulmate, but not in a romantic way.

    I just felt a very strong connection with him, like I had known him all my life. Even on that first day, I could talk to him in a way that I could never talk to my dad growing up. We stayed together until 8 or 9 p. I felt emotionally overwhelmed as I returned to my hotel. I called my husband and said, "He's my dad, he's my father.

    It was more important for me to have a relationship with him, I decided, and I didn't want to say or do anything that might jeopardize our friendship. I decided I would wait for him to tell me when he was ready. About a week after our first meeting, I received a letter from Father Ralph and it contained a large check. Within the letter, he said: "To say I enjoyed your visit is a first-rate understatement.

    I was delighted to meet Mary's daughter; amazed by her obvious achievements. I'm sure glad I met you. I never thought I would. I had resigned myself to meeting you in heaven. When my mom first told me about Father Ralph, I was surprised and shocked. But I soon saw that he was a special angel in her life. While Mom had parents, brothers, and sisters, there was so much shame around alcoholism at that time, and she had to keep her husband's struggle a secret.

    She leaned on Father Ralph and they became good friends. I don't know when it became more than that. I do know that the two of them met when my mom was 34 and Father Ralph was I was born when my mom was Over the 22 years that followed after Father Ralph and I met, he became a special angel in my life, too. We wrote letters, he phoned me every week, and, once or twice a year, I either went to Alabama to see him or he journeyed to Salt Lake City to see me. Some time after our first visit, Ralph moved from Alabama to Mesa, Arizona.

    I had to go to Tucson for yet another conference, and I made a pitstop to see Ralph. It was a warm, sunny day, so we went to a park and found a bench where we sat down to relax. I felt chills, not expecting him to say something like that. He paused, then said, "I guess that is because you are my daughter.

    I cried and cried. I knew it was hard for Ralph to confess to the truth. He began to cry, too. And I did already feel it, in my heart. But when he said those words, I knew that he loved me. We cried together. Finally, he went on to describe how he and my mom fell in love.