2003-07-11 @ 2:03 p.m.
| In 1989, my father who was 60, found a mail order bride. She was a 30 year old woman from the Philippines. I am his only daughter, who was also 30 at the time. He flew her here and they married in Reno, Nevada. I accepted my new stepmother. She was very quiet and shy. I never looked down on her. I wanted my Dad to be happy and he was. And I'm sure you realize my father had quite a bit of money. A half a million dollar house, a Mercedes, a Lincoln Continental, an RV, a truck, lots of luxuries. He lived well. They lived for 10 years in the west coast. In 2000, they moved to the South and lived there a year and then moved to the mid-Atlantic area and built a beautiful house up in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
My father had retired from the airline business because of memory problems in the mid-80's, but in 2001, they started becoming even more noticeable. He was forgetting words and events, repeating things, saying oddball things. But what I was most worried about was what he was saying about money. He was saying he didn't have any. I knew he had a very good retirement and social security each month and that he had sold his house in on the west coast for 1/2 million dollars and the previous December he had inherited $60,000 from his brother. And yet, he was saying that he might have to "sell some furniture" to buy his medication. I was perplexed. I was living up north, so I wasn't just around the corner to come over and see what was going on, so I asked to talk to his wife, but she wouldn't talk to me on the phone. I had a feeling that he was probably sinking into Alzheimer's. His memory had been an issue for several years, but he had been a recovering alcoholic earlier and so we had always blamed the memory thing on alcohol. Since I'm poor, I had to ask my Dad to rent a car so I could drive down and see what was going on. Fortunately, he had enough money for that so I went down to his house. When I got there...everything was great! His wife was very friendly to me. The money issue wasn't an issue. His wife took me aside and said it was just his memory and I was satisfied with her explanation. This was May 2001.
Over the summer his memory got worse and worse. The talk of not having any money started popping up again. In mid-August, my father, kind of in passing, told me, Oh, we sold our house, we're moving to the Philippines in mid September. I was like, What? He didn't even realize what a monumental event this was. He was talking about "driving" to the Philippines. Again, I had to ask him to rent me a car to drive down. This time when I arrived his Filipino wife would not talk to me. My father was very dazed and confused. It was obvious that the Alzheimer's had progressed fairly significantly since May. I mean, he had some lucid moments, but he was repeating stuff constantly. He introduced me as "his son" (and I definitely don't look masculine in any way). He was talking about having mountain lions in the back seat of his car. The first day I was there, we went to his bank (I insisted on driving, since he seemed so out of it). He wanted to cash a check for $100 so he could buy lunch and gas. He gave the teller the check, she punched in the numbers. She apologized but said, he only had $80. in the account. We asked her to check again. She did. Same result. I then asked, well, maybe you could transfer some fund from his savings account. She looked up his name. No savings account. My father has had a savings account for probably 50 years. So he only took out $50. I asked his wife that night about why they only had $80 in their account and she said, they had just had a big repair bill on the Mercedes. Yeah, right. The money missing could have BOUGHT a Mercedes.
Also, on the first night I was there, I had used their computer to send an e-mail to my mother. I had briefly looked in their filing cabinet and it was overflowing with files. I admit it. I was snooping. The second night, I was going to look in there again. It had been completely cleaned out. I'm guessing by his wife. She also kept their bedroom door locked at all times. The couple months earlier I had been there, I had had free access to their bedroom and had even watched videos in there with them. It was obvious, she was hiding stuff in there. I was at their house for 7 days, and she was always either locked in their bedroom or gone. And the only time she would be in the same room with me was when my father was in the room. I am not an aggressive person, so I was unable to confront her verbally about what was going on. Also on the first morning, they had sat me down on their couch and said that they intended to go to a lawyer's office while I was there that week and draw up a will and we never went. My father had already had a will back in the west coast, but had no recollection of it. I knew about it and evidently so did his wife. I'm sure it was in that filing cabinet. So, unable to confront her, I left her a letter telling her I knew she was diverting my father's money to the Philippines, etc., etc.
Beside all the cloak and dagger stuff concerning the money, I was also alarmed about how she was treating my father on my last visit. He had basically become very childlike and she was not taking care of him. He was on his own for food all day, so he ate candy and donuts. He didn't bathe or shave for 6 days and she was allowing him to drive. In my letter I had also threatened to call Social Service. Unfortunately I never followed through on that because I was afraid on how it would affect my father psychologically if they came swooping in just as they were moving. Now, I wish I would have. What I didn't expect was that she let him read my letter. I thought she would be embarrassed by my accusation (because they were true and she knew it) and just throw the letter away. But she let him read it and he went crazy with anger. He started leaving screaming messages on my answering machine. She had told him that I was sending the police to arrest HIM and that I had said he was crazy. It was a major disaster and basically it ended my relationship with my father. This was the same week of the World Trade Center disaster.
So they moved to the Philippines and I was never able to find them again. I had sent my father a letter apologizing, but had never received a reply. I pretty much treated his departure like his death. It was the only way I could cope with the heartbreak I felt. My father and I had always had the best of relationships.
The next summer, my cousin called me and said "We found your father". It was such a strange sensation hearing those words. I was really unsure of my emotional response, while I listened. Dragonlady's mother had called an elderly aunt of mine and told her that Dragonlady had taken a boyfriend and would tell my Dad that she was taking classes and spend weekends with her boyfriend. Can you imagine your own mother busting you? I guess her mother was very religious and was upset at what her daughter was doing. And I'm guessing she was leaving my Dad alone, which 9 months after they left the U.S. would probably have him in pretty bad condition mentally. After I hung up from the call I sobbed for probably an hour. In a way, I almost wished she hadn't told me. About a month later, another call from my cousin. Another call from the Philippines to this elderly aunt. Dragonlady had called and said she had had a nervous breakdown. She was wondering if the ***** family was "mad" at her for taking my father to the Philippines and wondered if maybe she might send him back. My cousin seemed really excited by this prospect and said to me, "Well, since you're on disability, maybe you and your Dad could move in together and you could take care of him full time." The thought of that actually sent me into a panic. I can barely take care of myself and I see a therapist twice a week, just to stay afloat emotionally, and to suddenly have to take care of a very ill parent with no support from anyone? Well, come to find out, that didn't end up having to be be anything I had to worry about, because I never got any more reports from the Philippines until I heard about my father's death in March, 2003. And I had to hear about fourth hand. Dragonlady's sister called my aunt, who called my cousin, who called my stepbrother, who called my mother, who mentioned it in passing. She thought my cousin had told me in an e-mail. So I hear about my father's death, as a kind of, "Oh, by the way..." I didn't know how he died. Where he died. I never got to go to a funeral. I never got to mourn him. I never got to commemorate him. Out of desperation for information, since I still didn't know where he was, I went to the local Senator's office and she helped me get in contact with the American Consulate in Manilla and I was finally able to at least get a Death Report of an American Citizen Abroad. So that's what I have left of my Dad. A piece of paper saying he died of a pulmonary embolism. Well, I guess, that's some comfort. At least I know, she didn't push him down the stairs...I think.
I went down to see a free lawyer at the local church last Spring to see if I have an recourse on his will, and basically since his wife was married to him, she gets everything. And I don't have any money to fight for anything, so I will probably live in poverty the rest of my life, all because my Dad bought a list of addresses from some sleazy mail order bride agency in California. And the day he met his future bride over in the Philippines, they were already exchanging "I love you's". I guess you have to work fast, when you've hooked a fat American wallet.
What makes me angry is how calculated this all is, and actually how sad, for someone who was as naive and vulnerable as my Dad. I went to a website tonight: Filipina.com and there is a link that reads "How do I order and how much is it gonna cost me?" with a credit card logos spinning around. This is a place to order Brides. The word "Gonna" was a tip off on just the type of people they're looking for. Further into the website, you can look for brides by weight, height and age. The very first girl listed was in her mid-twenties and she wanted her man to be between the ages of 50-99. Another girl listed her age as 19 and said that she had gone to a University in 1997. What when she was 13?
I think Mail Order Brides is more serious of a subject than a Jerry Springer Show. I've watched those shows, showing the old guys and the young girls and have felt as repulsed as the next person, but there is a lot more to it. My Dad's wife looked particularly young because she was so small. She even had a waitress give her a child's menu a couple of years ago when she was 41. Lots of people are affected by these mail order brides. There are some legitimate ones, perhaps. But the way I was cut off, and the way she attempted to legitimize it by destroying my relationship with my father, so she could use him like an ATM machine is incredibly treacherous and has made me really bitter.
If there are any lawyers out there reading this...if there is anything I can do, please write me. Thanks.
Lyrics by Lennon/McCartney. All angst copyright by awittykitty