"It's just ripping my insides out," says Joe Monteith, who wasn't at the funeral
But one viewer is not expecting the show to bring him much closure.
Joe Monteith, Cory’s estranged father, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview that he wakes up heartbroken every morning, missing his son and wishing he could have said goodbye.
“It s just ripping my insides out and tearing me apart,” the elder Monteith, 63, says tearfully.
Years of Estrangement
Joe Monteith (who provided PEOPLE with family photos) had little contact with his son for most of his life, the result of a bitter divorce from Cory’s mother, Ann McGregor, in 1989.
The last time Joe met Cory in person was about two years ago – after not seeing each other in 11 years. He says they talked about Glee, Cory’s on- and off-camera girlfriend, Lea Michele, and Cory’s past battles with drug addiction.
They then went outside for a heart-to-heart, with Joe giving his side of the divorce story. He was suddenly struck by how little he really knew about his son; for the first time, he saw Cory smoke cigarettes.
Joe told Cory that when his job in the military moved him to the other end of Canada, he could only visit his family every six months.
A Painful Divorce
McGregor didn’t want to move the family near where he was posted, and two years later, she filed for divorce, he told his son. For the next 17 years, Joe claimed, his estranged wife kept him at a distance from Cory and his older brother, Shaun.
“One year, she even sent back the Christmas presents that I had sent to the boys,” Joe Monteith says. (McGregor has not returned a call seeking comment.)
Joe quoted his son as saying, “Dad, I didn t know that.”
Joe recalls, “I think he was a little shocked by it. I said, ‘Son, you’re a young man now, you have to know the other half of the story.'”
Joe’s current wife, Yvette Monteith, 64, who met Joe during the divorce proceedings, says she recalls the presents being returned in 1991. “Joe’s mother’s presents also were sent back, and the following year, (McGregor) said she didn’t want us sending anything,” Yvette recalls.
She added that, roughly seven years ago, Cory called a few times to talk with his dad, who was by that time retired from the military and driving a truck. She says Cory told her, “I just want to know if my father loves me.” Yvette says that when she asked Cory a couple of years ago about the incident and whether he had been on drugs at the time, Cory said he couldn’t recall the conversations.
By that time, Cory was 29 with some rough life experiences of his own – having gone “code blue” a decade earlier from a bad drug reaction, Monteith recalled.
“He got a shot to his heart to bring him back, and he was told at that time to use no drugs of any kind because you had your one shot,” recalls Joe.
During their smoke break, he says, Cory promised he was staying clean. “He said ‘I wont go there ever again. I’m enjoying myself.’ ”
It tragically didn’t work out that way.
“I lost my son,” says Joe. “He should have known not to touch that drug again.”
Monteith says he’s nervous about watching the Glee tribute, and he hopes the show doesn’t miss an important opportunity to drive home the dangers of hardcore drug use.
“I don’t want to see any parent lose a child over heroin,” Monteith says.