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.
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.)
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 & 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 2 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 2 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 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.”
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!
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