Can you imagine, if Archie's daughter had access to AITA-reddit in 2012, after the Last Dam Job?
"AITA for ignoring my father after I found out he has a secret daughter and he disappered on me for days?
I (F, 42) recently visited my father (M, 72) with my husband and daughter. The relationship between me and my father has been a bit strained lately, ever since my mother passed about 6 months ago. Since he'd retired from his job as an accountant a few years ago, he doesn't really have anything to do. I had been worried he was getting lonely by himself in his old house, and suggested several solutions such as moving closer to me and my family, or even residential care (he uses a cane, and can barely walk at all on bad days) but he always shot me down, telling me he was fine. He's always been a bit distant, and can be really stubborn, so I didn't think anything of it, but I live out of state and can't exactly take care of him like this.
During the recent visit, my daughter, my father and me went for a walk in the neighbourhood, where I raised the topic again. However, we were interrupted, when a strange blond woman (F, early 30s?) bumped into us. My father turned around and called out to her, and asked she return his wallet, my wallet and my daughters candy! She must have pickpocketed us without me noticing, but my father seemed strangely happy about it. I asked whether they knew each other and my father just hooked his arm around the woman, said "That's my daughter!" and walked off with her. I was too shocked to follow, and by the time I had caught myself I couldn't find them. We returned to my father's place and tried to call him several times, but he didn't pick up. My husband is far more patient than I am, and told me my father would surely be back and that this must be a misunderstanding, but when he still wasn't back by several hours later, we got worried. We asked around the neighbourhood, but no one had ever seen the blond woman before. We contacted the police but they told us they couldn't help. The next morning I'd gotten a message from my father, telling me he'd be dealing with some "important family business" for a few days and that we shouldn't worry about him. I tried calling him again, but couldn't reach him.
I didn't know what to do by then, so I started searching through his bedroom and his office. I don't even know what I was looking for anymore, but after a while I found some hidden compartment behind one of his book shelves, with a box of fake ID's and newspaper clippings, mostly about robberies all over the world. This on its own wouldn't be too worrisome, as my father is a an art enthusiast and most of the articles seem to be about art robberies, I'd chalk it up to a weird part of his hobby. But for example one of the newspaper articles is from a french paper about a men dying in a car crash about 10 years ago, which matches one of the fake ID's. I still don't know what to think, but there's clearly more going on. I couldn't find anything on the woman, however.
By then, my husband suggested we should go home the next day, as the end of our planned stay was coming up anyway and I was clearly shaken. However, the next morning, my father returned, happy and acting as if nothing had happened, and I snapped. I yelled at him about how worried we were, and that I had found his secret stash of ID's in his office. He got mad in turn, told me that I had no business snooping through his stuff. We said some pretty hurtful things to each other, but in the end he confirmed the woman's name, and that she was "his daughter". He told me in no uncertain terms that he would not discuss anything about her, as it wasn't my business and that we should just "trust him", but he ensured me that he had never cheated on my mother. I don't know how he thinks that works, since the woman was clearly younger than me and my brother.
Still fuming I packed up my family and went home.
He tried calling me several times in the following week, but I was so pissed I blocked his number and his facebook. My husband suggested I
should attempt to talk to my father again, and that I should try to calm down and try to salvage the situation, as there was clearly more to the story than we knew. But I have a right to be mad and frankly, since my father is making no effort, I want nothing to do with this mess anymore. Am I overreacting?
Edit: Thank you for the many supportive messages, it feels good to know I wasn't overreacting. In the end, I informed my brother about the situation, like some of you suggested. He also had no idea what to make of any of this. In the end, however, my father came to visit (unannounced) and we had a long conversation I'm still a bit overwhelmed from.
My father told us he met the woman when she had been a homeless teenager. She tried to rob him, and he caught her and decided to help her out, so over the next few years he gave her financial support. Her recent visit was because she ran into some kind of legal trouble (he remained cagey on what exactly, but assured us the situation was resolved) and reached out to him for help. He said he never told us about her because he knew how it would look if a man like him suddenly came home with a strange child. Our family is fairly wealthy, but at least that would explain all the extra work shifts he used to take on. When we asked why he didn't put her into foster care, he said that she had had severe behavioural issues back then, and would have just ended up on the street regardless, at least by providing her with money and shelter, he knew she would be fine. There's still some things I don't understand and I'm still reeling, but I really hope he's telling the truth and that he was a misguided philanthrope instead of cheating on my mother. I never would have expected anything like that from him. I still feel like I'm missing something, and he is far from forgiven, but at least some of the situation seems to be resolved.
Edit²: So it has been a while, but I guess you people deserve an update because a lot has happened since then.
Since my father refused to give out any information on the woman, I kind of dropped the subject and our weekly calls, because I was still mad at him from keeping such a big secret. However, since my brother and I both felt like we were missing information, he ended up badgering my father about the woman's contact information, and my father eventually caved. We managed to contact her, and she essentially confirmed what my father had told me about her. She used to be a homeless orphan until my father caught her pickpocketing. They hadn't had much contact over the past few years anymore, and he had explicitely forbidden her from interacting with us the entire time they knew each other. I don't think she felt too comfortable interacting with us, but I felt kind of bad and extended the offer that we could keep in contact... She really didn't seem like she was lying, and if anything, the whole situation isn't her fault anyway.
Long story short, we called each other a few times since then, and I ended up asking her about the fake ID's and some other weird things she mentioned. She went really quiet and said that this was my father's secret to tell.
Fed up, my brother and I joined forces to get all of the answers out of my father once and for all. It was a very intense conversation, but here is the gist of it:
Apparently, my father was faking being an accountant for our entire lifes. He used to be a successfull international art thief up until about ten years ago, when he "retired from the business" by faking his death in a car accident, which was about the time he found the pickpocketing woman. He let her stay in a warehouse (?!) and trained her up to be his successor as a thief, although my father claims she also got out of that business recently and is now running a restaurant with her boyfriend. My mother never found out about any of this. Also, his cane doubles as some sort of taser, which I found out because my daughter almost zapped herself with it.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought anything like this could be real, and I really hope this is the last surprise in this particular mess. Thank you for your support and all the comments. I'm still mad at my father, but the entire situation has become so absurd I really don't know what to think anymore."