- One More Try -

- One More Try -


November 10th, 2020

The last time I saw my father was in New York City in April of 2017. I slept on the street in front of his Upper West Side condominium apartment building in a cardboard box that chilly night. At 7 am, I rang his bell. He was not aware I was coming and was not happy when he came outside to meet me. At first, he didn’t ask me why I was there, and he wasn’t at all concerned about my well-being after realizing I had slept on the street. It was apparent, though, that he was more embarrassed and upset that his neighbors knew that I was his son and had slept out there the whole night. After he was done screaming at me right in front of his building, we went around the corner to have breakfast. That’s where I explained my situation to him and begged him to help me because I was homeless and that the city had no more beds available in the shelter uptown. At first, it sounded like he sincerely wanted to help me, and he kept promising that he would. But within a week, I realized that this was just another Pat Cooper rerun.

While we were having breakfast, I met a woman friend of his named Emily, who just happened to appear at our table. He introduced her to me, and then she quickly left. I never gave her a second thought; my father paid the check at the diner, and then we went back to his apartment. I was shocked that he invited me in because he had never asked me before. Once upstairs, we had words again, which sounded more like those many repetitive lectures he gave me my whole life. The difference this time was that I didn’t feel intimidated by him anymore.

Once he hung his coat up and settled in, I immediately noticed that his body language was a bit off. He looked frail, and I had this strange feeling that he wasn’t well. Maybe it was just his age; after all, he was 87 years old at the time, and perhaps I was looking into it too deeply. My father was his usual self with all the anger he projected at me, but he wasn’t as sharp and quick with his responses as he used to be. He frequently paused like he had to think about what to say next, and his overall posturing seemed different from what I remembered. He was repetitious with his choice of words, and there wasn’t a sentence that came out of his mouth that wasn’t vile or vulgar. Sometimes, he didn’t make sense, but his yelling was consistent. I thought it was because he lost most of his hearing, and maybe he couldn’t tell how loud he was talking. But then I remembered that was the way he always spoke to me and that behavior only worsened as he got older. He never knew how to talk calmly and always talked over me or anybody else who disagreed with him. He made minimal eye contact with me, which I thought was also odd, only because he always told me to look at him in the eyes whenever I spoke to him, and he would demand I do that if I didn’t. There was something wrong here that I couldn’t place my finger on, but I sat there for about an hour and let him vent as usual. It wouldn’t have served me to spar with him because I knew he would have used that as an excuse not to help me. Whatever he preached about that morning was nothing new to my ears and contained no variation from what I had heard from him in the last fifty years.

The conversation got uglier by the minute, and once again, he was playing the victim. He was being very mean and knocked my sister and his sisters. I tuned out that bull shit for a moment because he sounded, once again, like a broken record. Instead, I found myself preoccupied with how he looked and how much he had deteriorated since the last time I saw him. Then out of nowhere, he told me that I was lucky he didn’t call the cops on me for sleeping in front of his building. I told him I already spoke to the cops earlier and asked them about that, and they said to me that the mayor allowed the homeless to sleep anywhere as long as they weren’t noisy, blocking a doorway, or harassing anyone. It was so appalling that he would even say something like that to me at such a desperate time in my life. That heartless statement made me cry, which I never did in front of him before. He went on to tell me that my tears meant nothing to him.

Suddenly, his cell phone rang, and when he got off the phone, he told me that his friend Emily got a room for me at a local hotel and he would keep in touch. I knew he was full of shit and that I wouldn’t hear from him ever again. Instead, he put Emily in charge of the situation, which wasn’t a bad thing, but it was his way of dismissing me for the hundredth time. Emily was the only one communicating with me that whole week, and I was confident she was doing a great job negotiating with my father on my behalf. She called me a few times and dropped off some money for food, and sometimes she would sit with me and talk while I ate my lunch in the hotel’s restaurant. I told Emily that I wanted my father to buy me an apartment in Florida or at least give me a down payment for a condominium there. I let her know that I had lived there for seven months in 2014, and apartments in Miami and Fort Lauderdale were much more affordable than in New York City. I mentioned to her that my father had promised to really help me this time, and when I mentioned a place in Florida, he didn’t say no to that option. Maybe I was delusional, believing that would happen when my father never came through for me ever before, but I felt optimistic, especially with Emily in the mix. I liked her and thought she was honest and real with me. I also felt that she would be the catalyst to convince my father to keep his word this time.

Then I didn’t hear from her or my father for a couple of days. I had already been at the hotel for almost a week and didn’t know what to think anymore. I decided to take a nap, which was something I never did, but that afternoon I was very depressed, and the silence was killing me! Then my phone rang, and Emily told me to meet her in the lobby in half an hour. I thought she was coming there with a plan. I met her by the bar in the hotel, and Emily told me that my father’s friends and lawyer told him not to help me, especially after what I did. She was referring to my book and my book’s website. I think the website bothered my father more because it had the video from the Geraldo Rivera Show, which showed my father screaming and yelling his head off, demonizing our family and ultimately humiliating himself on national TV. Emily had suggested that maybe I should consider taking my website down because it made my father look bad. I downright refused and told her that was my life story, not his, and that no one was going to make me remove it as if what I wrote or posted online was untruthful. The proof was all there on audio, video, and in photographs. The truth was on there in the text, too, and also word for word in my published book.

After sitting at the bar in the hotel with me and having a drink, she reached into her pocketbook and started to take out an envelope. She told me that she had a two-thousand-dollar check for me from my father. Before she handed it to me, I told her to keep the check and tell my father to shove it up his ass. It was now evident that he lied and was looking to pay me off with a measly few dollars so I would go away. I reminded her that I couldn’t be bought, and two thousand dollars wouldn’t even be enough for rent and food in Manhattan for a month. The only thing she said to me was: “I guess it’s better you don’t take it.” Whatever that meant, it didn’t matter. I was pissed. She said she was sorry, and there was nothing she could do to change my father’s mind. She told me that I’d have to leave the hotel the next day. I said goodbye to her and thanked her for trying to help me. That was the last time I heard anything about my father or Emily again until someone sent me an email and a picture attached with both of them celebrating their marriage and my father’s ninetieth birthday in Las Vegas in the summer of 2019. They had moved there for good, and apparently, my father had sold his condominium in New York City. It all made sense now, and I realized that Emily Conner would be my father’s last wife and caretaker for the rest of his life.

I will admit the marriage thing came as a big surprise. It never crossed my mind that my father would ever marry again. But, I have to say it was a smart move on his part because he had found another woman who loved him and would be there for him in his remaining days. I was happy for them because I knew my father needed help, and I truly believed that he had found a terrific woman. The last communication I had with them was when I sent them both a text message, separately, congratulating them and wishing them well. Emily replied, but my father did not. I was pleased to know that he would never end up alone in a nursing home somewhere in the state of Nevada.

People still ask me why, to this day, that I would waste my time or care about him after all those years, especially after what he did to my biological sister and me. They are even more surprised that I would give a shit about him, now that he was old, frail, and ill. In some strange way, I guess I took after his mother, who always loved him unconditionally and taught me to do the same. I just had hoped that the day would come where he might or, at some point, return some of that love to me. The one thing that gives me peace of mind now that I am a senior citizen and can relate is that my father has someone by his side to take care of him.

As for me, this is the end of the line, unfortunately. I still can’t understand why my father wouldn’t want to help me, especially at the most precarious time of my life. Even though Emily told me that my father’s lawyer and friends said not to help me, I find it hard to believe. My father always did what he wanted to do, and I never got the impression from him that he needed anybody’s opinion or approval when it came to his life or his family. But, whether she was telling me the truth or not, I still had to accept the outcome. It is what it is and the way it always has been. I would never be my father’s son, and I knew I wouldn’t get another chance of reconciling with him. That’s the saddest part of my story. When I left his apartment that day in April of 2017, I had an eerie feeling that that would be the last time I would ever speak to or see my father alive again.


February 14th, 2015

I received a phone call on Valentine’s Day that caught me by surprise. It was from a producer at the Dr. Phil show. I totally had forgotten that I wrote letters in the summer of 2014 to three celebrities in the media: Dr. Phil, Oprah, and Iyanla Vanzant, to see if one of them could help me make peace with my father before it was too late. The producer from the Dr. Phil show said she wanted to help, but she wouldn’t be able to unless my father agreed to appear on the show, too. I told her that would never happen, but she still wanted to call him, anyway. I agreed it was worth a try, but deep down I knew it was hopeless. I warned her that he would be very hostile towards her as soon as he found out her intentions and would probably be rude and hang up.  And I knew he would think I was the one that instigated the whole thing. In his mind he would look at this as just another way of me “bustin his balls,” again, as he put it to me less than a week ago. I didn’t share any of that with her, gave her his phone number and wished her good luck. Ten days later, she called me with the news that I had expected. She said she had talked to my father and he said that he wasn't interested.

- OUR PHONE CONVERSATION - - Dad’s Last Wish -

February 8th, 2015

(The call came through from a blocked number. As usual his gravely voice sounded loud and angry.)

“Hello, hello,” my father said.
“Hello, who’s this?” I hesitantly said.
“Who’s this?” My father repeated annoyingly. Then the call dropped.

[I didn’t immediately recognize his voice because we had a bad connection. I was inside the shopping mall at the time, but had a feeling that the caller would try again. I was right.]

“Hello, who is this?” I called out, twice.
“This is Pat Cooper!” He arrogantly answered.

“Oh, hi Dad.” I said, friendly.
“Why are you coming here with your friends and bustin my balls?” He said accusingly.

“Wait, wait, wait, Dad. I came there alone!” I said, correcting him.
“My super said you came here with your friends!” He raised his voice.
“I said, I came there alone, Dad...your super is wrong! There were other people in the lobby.

[He cut me off before I could finish.]

“You didn’t come here to my building the other day?” He demanded.
“Yes, I did, Dad, but I came alone!”

“Why did you come here? You have no right coming here to my building!” He emphasized.
“I came there, Dad, to drop off a copy of my book and to try and make peace with you.”
“I read your book, it was good, what more do you want from me? Stop bustin my balls!” He said pleadingly.

“Why is that bustin your balls because I left you my book and a letter?”
“You are not welcome here. I don’t want you here. I don’t want to see your face and memories. Let me die in peace! Let me die the way I want to die!” He yelled.

“Ok, Ok” I said, shocked and feeling pity for him.

“I wasn’t going to call you, but I didn’t want you to say that I didn’t tell you. I don’t want to have to put a piece of paper between us!” He said threatening.

[I knew exactly what he meant by that. My father was actually threatening me with an order of protection. I knew he wasn’t kidding, but still wondered if he would really do something like that? Then a voice in my head warned me that he would.)

“Do you understand English? Do you understand English?” He stressed.
“Yes, I understand English!” I said, annoyed and mocking him.

[He was done and abruptly hung up on me. That wasn’t the first time he did that and exactly what I thought he would do.)


February 5th, 2015

I left the letter posted below along with an autographed copy of my book at my father’s apartment door on February 5th, 2015. I knew my father had already read my book (his agent had told me), but I wanted to take the higher road and extend another olive branch for one last and final time. I’ve already reached out to my father more than a hundred times in my life, in many different ways including the media, and nothing had ever worked. This was the first time I had actually gone to his home and left something by his door. I don’t know what made me think that this approach would work, but I was worried about him being alone and his presumed failing health.

I was surprised to see that he lives in a mediocre, no doorman apartment building. He is approaching his late eighties, almost deaf, doesn’t see very well, lives all alone and recently had a falling out with his adopted daughter, Patti Jo Cooper. She is the only one that he ever considered family. I thought maybe because of all this and him being at the end of his life, maybe, just maybe he would have humbled by now. Oh Boy, was I wrong!

But I looked at it this way. At least I got a call directly from him this time and not from his so-called friends. And I was shocked that he actually responded, a first in over 25 years. He even acknowledged my book and said it was good. That was huge!


Dear Dad,

I hope this letter finds you well. My purpose of this letter is to reach out to you with sincerity and love. Dad, I have always loved you and tried for years reaching out to you. Now that we are both older men, and three-quarters of our family are gone, I think the time has come to put the past behind us for good. I’ve always enjoyed our times together and never have forgotten any one of them. I even documented them in my book.

In the summer of 2014 while I was living in Miami Beach, I got a call from two people that said they were your closest friends. One was from Steve who I know because he has called me numerous times, telling me that he is your agent, your co-author, and that you had just fired him for the third time. I personally don’t like Steve. I don’t trust him and don’t know why he has called me so many times. Another man called me and said he was a very close friend of yours, too. He called himself John and this was the first time he has called me. It was very coincidental that both Steve and John called me in the same week with the same agenda: to get me and you to reconcile as father and son. There is no way that I can verify the sincerity of these two men or if you really do have a close friend named John. As far as Steve is concerned, I don’t believe a thing he says. Nevertheless, I told the both of them that I was very interested in reconciling with you and making peace.

They both came back to me after a few days and told me that it was hopeless and that you said to them that you weren’t interested. I don’t know what is true, Dad, and what isn’t true. And I certainly don’t know why all of a sudden I got two calls in the same week from two friends of yours.  Maybe they were truly concerned but I just wanted you to know what has been going on behind your back.

So, I say it again; It would mean the world to me to have a dinner with you and to see how you are doing. I am not looking for anything but your time and some conversation. That is all I ever wanted from you, a little love and to be acknowledged as your son. Please make this happen before it is too late for the both of us.

I will say it again, Dad, “I love you.”


Dear Pat Cooper written by Michael Caputo. Copyright ©2006. All Rights Reserved.

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