Friday, April 16, 2010

My dad- not your average father.....

I wanted to write this yesterday, but I was too sad to do it. Yesterday was my father's birthday. If he were alive he would have been 111. Yep- you read it correctly- 111. Let me tell you abou him and you will understand-

My dad was born in Spain on April 10, 1899. He came from a very well to do family that has been instrumental in the growth and success of Spain. My Uncle Luis helped get Franco out of Spain when the communists came during the Spanish Civil War. Later he was appointed the head of the Spanish National Tourist Office. My Uncle Fernando was the International Olympic President for sailing, My Uncle Enrique was the minister of finance in Malaga, and my cousin Enrique was mayor of Benalmadena for about 35 years, but, back to my dad.

He married a woman in his younger days, Constancia de la Mora, and they had a daughter. During the war, my dad and his family were staunch supporters of Franco. Constancia and her family were communists. Obviously the marriage didnt work out, and they divorced. My dads claim to fame here is- Spain is a very Catholic country- divorces were unheard of- my dad and Constancia had the first legal divorce ever recorded in Spain. After they parted, his daughter was sent to live in Russia. For many years he did not get to see her.

In the mid 1950's he learned she was living in Mexico and was married. He planned a trip to see her and the US before returning to Spain. When he found her, she told him she didnt want anything to do with him and turned her back on him. Needless to say he was devestated, crushed, but he picked himself up and proceeded to take the train around the US. Somewhere outside of Chicago, his breifcase was stolen with all his papers and identificaton. He panicked, not knowing what to do. He was terrified of being arrested or deported without ID. He had been very well educated and was fluent in many different languages, iincluding English. He decided to find a job and settle down until he could figure out a better plan.

First, he had to come up with a name- so to the trusty phone book. He opened it up and put his finger down- he instantly became George Miller. He changed his birthdate to Feb 12, 1910- because that was Lincolns birthday and he could remember it. He started working in the Chicago hotel industry and made a name for himself- He ran the Pump Room for many years, and looked just like Arthur Treacher. He told everyone he was English, and it worked. He met my mom and they married- and eventually I showed up.

I was the twinkle in my dads eye, he tried to give me the world from day one. (Yes, I admit I was spoiled as rotten could be). It was hard at times, because my dad was older- 62 when I was born, but he exposed me to a life of culture and refinement, not to mention a lot of celebrities- We lived in the Bahamas for a while where my dad ran a club- I can remember eating lunch with Ringo Starr as a kid- but I had no idea who he was- I was only 5 or 6 at the time. I also remember George Hamilton sitting with us so people would not bother him-

We ended up in Atlanta, and that became our permanent home. My dad became a wine importer, and life went on. My mom finally figured out he wasn't English and all hell broke loose- she thought he was a German Nazi- given his look, it could have been possible. The truth finally came out and with the help of a great lawyer, he became a permanent citizen. He was also reunited with his family in Spain whom he had not seen or communcated with for 30 years. Shortly after finding his family, and reuniting with them over a summer, my mom died.

Over the next 18 months, I could see a change in my dad- a sadness- he really missed my mom- we both did- but it was visible on my dad- he lost weight, he was tired- but together we had a great time.

For my senior year in high school, he took me to the Ford dealer and told me to hang out for a minute - he had to attend to some buisness- I thought this is weird- he has an Olds....a few minutes later a brand new Mustang appeared with a bow on it- for me. I was shocked-

Then , on Christmas Eve night1979, we were coming home from a dinner some friends had thrown. I was driving us in my mustang down I-285 in Atlanta. At the last minute I saw a big dark object a few hundred feet in front of me- it was a 1972 Cadillac that someone had abandoned in the middle lane - no lights, no blinkers- I had no where to go. I turned the wheel hard but hit it was a tremendous force- I thought I had killed whoever was in the car- but no one was- they had driven off with a relative to find a wrecker on the other side of town. My dad was seriously injured- he had a fractured leg, arm and broken neck. I had a broken nose and kneecap. I was terrified and scared- my dad was all I had. He made it 9 days until a blood clot worked its way to his lung, and he died.

His death was very hard on me- not only was I alone, but I felt responsible and guilty over the accident. It played with my head for a while- but I finally came to terms with it after several years. I hate that my children never met their grandfather- he would have spoiled them too-

I took him back to Spain- where he is buried in the family crypt, right next to my mom in Cementario San Miguel. When I was first married, all of our things were stolen out of a storage unit- so I have very few pictures of my dad and mom- but I do have all my memories, and I never want to forget his birthday, or how special he was to me.


Teri said...

I hate all of this for you.
But I did find out something I didn't know, the mustang! I got one too, with a big red bow on it!

And for some reason I couldn't get the link to work....I probably need to sign on with Firefox.

Just in case you didn't're very important to me. :)

Lorna said...

This is a beautifully told story and I'm glad you wanted to share it. It must be wonderful to so admire one's father.