As told to Ann DeGrey
I always thought my parents had a good marriage. They didn’t always see eye to eye, but no relationship is perfect, and I assumed they were doing okay. They’d been married for 27 years and had myself and my sister in their early 20s. It was around that time when Dad started climbing up the ladder at a large corporation where he remains to this day.
We certainly had an idyllic childhood with multiple trips overseas and summers spent at our beachfront holiday home. We also had a nanny and a housekeeper so Mum was always there for us whenever we needed her, as she quit working once she became a mum. Our dad was always very busy with work and, as he got older and climbed further up the corporate ladder, he became a weekend dad – and then as my sister and I were married and left home, he spent much of his time working overseas.
I once asked him if he was considering retirement, and his reaction was very strange. But in light of the bombshell that was about to be dropped, it made perfect sense. He said, "God no, I cannot retire, I have the future of my family to think about."
What he should have said was plural, not singular – families.
Things unravelled when my brother-in-law, who works in IT, offered to help my dad with his laptop which wasn’t working well. There were multiple photos of a woman he didn't recognise with a baby and a toddler. There was also a photo of my dad cradling the baby. Maybe it was innocent, but he thought something was up. So my sister confronted him and that’s when Dad finally told the truth – he’d been taking overseas trips to a country where he’d lied and said he had an office. The reality was that he had a second 'wife' and two young children, and the affair had been going on for over a decade.
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To say we were shocked is an understatement.
My sister and I told him, "You have to tell Mum, or we will." Dad kept chickening out, so we thought it best that my sister and I break the news. When we told her that dad has a second family overseas, she was hardly able to speak.
She cried buckets of tears before finally coming to the conclusion that she might be better off without him, as she has been living under his control and treated like a 1950s housewife since the age of 23.
The breakup was surprisingly amicable. Dad made sure Mum received her fair share of the fortune – we’re talking about multiple millions here. They divorced, Dad married his 'new' partner, and she now lives in Australia with their two children. I have yet to meet my half sisters and, for now, I have no desire to but that might change. My elder sister has met her and continues to have a relationship with the two little girls but I’m not quite ready yet.
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