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DMCs: Tatty’s Girl

As told to Leah Greenburg

I was on my best, most helpful behavior around Sarah, but I could feel with a certainty that Sarah didn’t like me from Day One

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

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T he earliest memories I have of my father are of him throwing me into the air (you’d think a doctor would know better!) while I laughed delightedly, knowing he’d catch me and give me a warm “hug tight.” He was a quiet type of person, while I got my outspoken nature more from my mother, but even without so many words, I knew he adored me and I adored him right back.

My parents divorced when I was just a baby and I have no recollection of them being married to each other. I was so young at the time of their divorce, I didn’t ever harbor any secret longings for them to get remarried, like so many other kids of divorced parents. My parents lived a few streets away from each other, I saw them both all the time, and that was the only life I ever knew. Life was good. When I was ten, my father told me he was moving across the country to live closer to my bubby, his mother, who was getting older. “Don’t worry,” he told me as I sobbed, “you’ll come visit all the time. We’ll still see each other.”

I remember feeling like my heart was breaking as his car pulled out of the driveway for the last time. He called me as soon as he arrived and we spoke on the phone practically every day and finally, I was able to visit during my Chanukah break.

Actually, it was quite fun. Since I flew by myself, I was an unaccompanied minor and the airline stewardesses fussed over me, constantly asking how I was and if I needed anything, and offering me snacks. My father was waiting for me at the baggage claim area and I flew into his arms. My entire extended family treated me like a celebrity, taking me out for ice cream, buying me little treats, and taking me on special outings. The trip flew by, but by the time it was over I knew I’d be back at least four times during the year and for a month in the summer.

Two years later, on one of my shorter visits, my father had someone standing next to him at the airport when he picked me up.

“This is Sarah.”

Of course, you know where this is going, right? I knew without him telling me that she’d eventually be my stepmother. I was thrilled! That meant a wedding, a new house, possibly siblings. But you know how you can tell when someone doesn’t like you? They don’t have to say anything or do anything, they can be perfectly polite, but you can just feel it in your bones, in the air around you. I don’t know why, because I was on my best, most helpful behavior around Sarah, but I could feel with a certainty that Sarah didn’t like me from Day One.

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