This Sunday many people will celebrate their dad in several ways by honoring the way he raised them, was there for them, carried sons and daughters through hard times, tough situations, rough health conditions, school burdens, maybe even bullying.
How he always attended every soccer game, cheer leading tryout, dance recital, football awards banquet, how he taught them to play the piano, passed on great advice, taught them to drive, helped carry on his legacy of success, maybe passed on a great work ethic or the family business.
But for many others like myself, this annual holiday is a painful reminder of what we don’t have – not only because our fathers aren’t here physically but because our fathers abused us.
I always told everyone I was a Daddy’s girl and that my father and I were close, but that was a girlhood fantasy because I didn’t want to admit that though my father always encouraged my writing talent, something that I pursued and succeeded at as an adult, my dad also lived a double life.
He sexually abused my three sisters and I and fooled many people, even going so far as to not only lead this double life until his death of natural causes, being very active in his church, blindsiding his second and third wife, her kids, an entire congregation, including the minister he was close to in a religion he didn’t even believe in.
But when they had his funeral an entire group of people didn’t even know who he was.
My father abused me from the time I was three until I was 17 when my sister helped me escape him for the second and final time. By the time I was 18 I had been in four foster homes and various other places and she had been in two foster homes. My other two sisters also had rough lives.
If you ever met my dad, Tony Persico, who grew up in Brooklyn, NY, a funny, charming, intelligent, successful Air Force mechanic who wasn’t close to either parent and who had been sexually abused by one of his brothers and in turn, abused his sister along with his other brother, you would never believe that he was a predator. He was a true Jekyll and Hyde.
He was fun, had a great laugh, later went on to be a computer tech in the 70s; was way ahead of his time during that period, and he invented all kinds of things that he was going to patent. He was creative and artistic and I hate to say it, but I miss that part of him.
I also hate him and love him at the same time.
When I saw him on his death bed he was in a coma and I hadn’t seen him in 20 years. I always said I would cuss him out and spit on his grave when he died, but I did neither.
I simply cried like a baby and told him how much I missed him and sat there like a statue as they gave him a military funeral I didn’t think he deserved.
All my life I had nightmares and flashbacks of the abuse despite many years of therapy, but after he died for the first time in my life I had four months of peace and it was great.
Then the nightmares started back again and they haven’t left.
In December it will be ten years since he died.
He never served a day in jail.
There is one bright shining light, however:
I have a beautiful daughter and my sisters and I survived despite him and have gone on to do great things.
And he could never take that from us despite his best efforts.
— Terri, age 52