I don’t recall ever being told that my father had been murdered. I have no memory of a day when my mother sat me down and slowly and carefully unwound the story of how he had been reckless with his life and that he had been murdered as a result of it. I don’t recall her telling me about the other woman … about that woman’s husband shooting my father.
His death … his murder, which occurred in 1973, long before the invention of the Internet, has been as much my story, in some ways, as it was his own.
Being the daughter of a man embroiled in scandal, infidelity and ultimately life-ending violence defines you in ways beyond comprehension.
As a young girl, when introduced to a friend’s parents, there was no mistaking that faraway look in their eyes as they tried to recall why it was that my last name raised a feeling of alarm. This was typically followed by a wave of recognition, when their memory brought back pieces of my story. Their eyes said what they could not say aloud: “Oh … she’s the daughter of the man who was murdered by his best friend,” followed by the struggle to decide whether or not they should allow their child to be friends with me at all.
For years, in an attempt to connect with my father in some way and make sense of his loss, I asked to hear the stories over and again. In those days, long before the Internet, stories were told face to face—and when you're looking someone in the eye there are choices you make about which pieces of a story to emphasize, and which to suppress.