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DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And it's time for StoryCorps this morning. Today a daughter talks with her dad about a confusing time. When 17-year-old Abby Gagliardo was a kid, her dad, Ralph, was sent to prison. He's been out for five years now. And at StoryCorps, Abby talked with her dad.
ABBY GAGLIARDO: When I was a kid, people would ask me. They'd be like, where's your dad? And I'd be like, I don't know - jail? I didn't understand any of it.
RALPH GAGLIARDO: You never knew it was all related to heroin.
A. GAGLIARDO: Honestly, no. I found out last year from my sister. I was like, what are you talking about? My dad never did heroin. And she was like, just ask him. So I did. And you told me you were addicted to heroin for 10 years. That was shocking to me.
R. GAGLIARDO: Did it all of a sudden make sense to you, like, why I was going to jail?
A. GAGLIARDO: I thought it was for stealing.
R. GAGLIARDO: Yeah. Well, that's part of it. Kind of go to extreme measures because you always need money. So you just thought I was a crook?
A. GAGLIARDO: I was young. I didn't put two and two together. And, looking back on things, I thought I had a normal life. You know? I ate spaghetti for dinner. I watched TV. I went to bed at 8.
R. GAGLIARDO: Yeah. I tried to send you letters that would give us a connection. Like, one time I traced my hand on a piece of paper, and I told you to trace yours.
A. GAGLIARDO: Did I?
R. GAGLIARDO: Yeah, you did. And you sent it back.
A. GAGLIARDO: But it's like talking to someone through a wall. Back then I couldn't see, you know, the dumb faces you make now, or hear your laugh when I make a silly joke or see the way your forehead has funny lines in it when you talk. There is a difference, and I can feel it.
R. GAGLIARDO: But when I came home, you were a little hostile.
A. GAGLIARDO: I was pissed. It's was like, how can you come in here and act like the parent? You have to give me a reason to give you a chance.
R. GAGLIARDO: Yeah. There was definitely some bumps in the road. And it was my fault that you didn't have a father there.
A. GAGLIARDO: But I have one now, and that's what counts. You know? I know you're not just going to disappear out of the blue.
R. GAGLIARDO: You're getting me all choked up. I'm sorry.
A. GAGLIARDO: (Laughter). It took some time, but I mean, look at us now. You're the one person in the world I can open up to and trust. We came a long way, and I'm proud of both of us.
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GREENE: Abby Gagliardo, speaking with her dad, Ralph, in Hartford, Conn. Ralph has been sober since 2012 and plans to attend law school. That interview will be archived at the Library of Congress.
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