Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day

My brother made amends with our father before he died. My brother and I are quite different. If I celebrate father's day at all, it will probably be in memory of my husband's father, my Canasta partner, a carpenter by trade, and an all-around family-type man, who treated everyone with honor and respect. He seemed to me a good man, who died way too soon.

My father, on the other hand, and pardon me, while I try very hard to not seem extremely bitter about it all, was a horrible man, and by saying that, let me now say that I am being truly kind to the man, for he deserves a LOT worse.

He spent his entire marriage to my mother, cheating with other women, and continued to cheat on her with a girlfriend from high school. Not only did he beat her until I turned 16, when she finally stood up to her entire five foot two frame against his five foot ten frame, and told him "Go ahead. Must make you a really big man to hit a little woman," he also assaulted me when I was 16.

He was a smoker and an alcoholic and nothing was ever his fault. I begged my mother for years to leave him. The problem was she married him when she was 14. Other than raising kids, she had no skills to speak of, and had several siblings on welfare, and didn't want to end up in that kind of situation. He took away her whole life, and even though she is much better off now for it all, he CONTINUES to screw her, even though he is dead and gone.

As far as I'm concerned, it took TOO LONG for the man to die. I can't begin to tell you how often I used to wish that the police would stop him on the road for drinking and driving, while at the same time, worrying about how we would function, for our family was truly dysfunctional in many, many ways. I'm so surprised that I survived, it's not even funny.

People tell me that I should forgive and forget, that he was, after all, my father. But how can you do that, when you wished all your life, that your dad was someone else? ANYONE else. And friendships? Forget it. No way I was going to bring someone home to spend the night in my house. If I could have, I would have run away, and I did try once. The rest of the time, I was a hostage in my own home--and it was never safe. You always had to be on your toes for the next outburst. It was hell.

Considering all that, remembering all those times--it's no wonder I'm angry with men in general--even reasonably good men, because all they have to do is slip up and be a MAN, just once. After that, it's pretty much all over. And sure, he had his own issues, but he was never responsible for them, and for darn sure, there's just no way that I'm going to allow him or anyone else "blame his behavior" on a disease. That's BS of the highest degree and part of the reason why no one takes responsibility for themselves anymore. It's no more a disease than being a homosexual is. Choosing to drink, to do drugs of any kind, is just that. A CHOICE. Sorry, but I tend to call em like I see em.

And now, that all is said and done, and he's gone, he has done ANOTHER ignominy from the grave. The divorce decree declared that he was to maintain her name on his life insurance, and that she was to get it when she died. The insurance company has determined that she did not have a quatro for it, and therefore was not entitled to it, and so now, she has to go back to her lawyer to find out how the lawyer dropped the ball in securing this for her. He never maintained the health insurance on her, either, and he was supposed to do that as well. Yes, he pretty much stole my mother's entire life away, and her ability to make her own way in the world without him. Forty three years of her life--just tossed out the door to go be with his girlfriend...AND THEN...after he married her, he started coming around and diddling with my mother.

Do I hate him? Oh yeah, and I have no compunctions stating so. Would I contact him on purpose? Not on your life. The last 20 years or so have been difficult, but free of his influence, and for that I am supremely grateful. I found out once that he had tried to come to my house, and I made it clear to my mother, because she was living there at the time, that he was NOT welcome in my home--not even if I wasn't present. She argued that my son still wanted to be able to see him. I told her that he could "look him up" when he was older. There was no way that my father was going to influence my son any more than he already had.

But my brother? He's horribly broken up about it all. Losing his dad, and all that. And while I'm not throwing confetti in the air and putting on a party, I can honestly say that I'm not losing any sleep over it either. I spent most of my young life crying mostly from loneliness and grief over all the pain he caused all of us. I don't think I really want to spend another minute on it.

And so I won't. Instead, I'll tell you a little bit about my husband's father.

There are touches of my husband's father throughout our house and all over our property. As I said before, he was a carpenter by trade. When we did the remodel of our house, my husband's father assisted with most of the thought behind the work, and helped my husband figure out how. The inset cupboards were my idea, and my father in law made them a reality. He helped plan and build our 50 foot deck on our back porch, and then showed my husband how to calculate the stairway for it. He helped put in the kitchen cupboards, built the cabinet for my washer and dryer, built a closet in the front foyer, and installed the bathroom cupboard--a floor to ceiling thing. He also helped put in the one piece bathroom tub, and helped update the wiring in here. He laid flooring in the foyer, kitchen and breakfast nook. Everywhere I look, I see him.

He liked fishing, and he took hubby and I a couple of times. I understand that the family raised hogs for market, and there's a certain story about my hubby tricking his brother into standing on a piece of ice in the liquid hog manure pit...but we won't go was a bit messy.

He was a tiger at Canasta, and more often than not, because my mother in law had this idea that if we played with our own "partner" we wouldn't have nearly as much my father in law was usually my partner. I know that, of the 4 of us, I was the weaker player, but he more than made up for it. After several years of play, he and I knew each other's playbook pretty well. We won more than we lost over those many years, but it was so much fun to play. When he was gone, I felt the loss keenly, and I wasn't sure why he waited until I left the hospital before he left the earth.

He was born an identical twin, and very close to his brother. When he became a man and married my mother in law, after he'd had the children he believed he wanted, he had a vasectomy. Then his wife got preggers. Say what? They figured that the vasectomy hadn't taken, so they went in and redid it.

Mother in law got pregnant again! What a surprise. This time, when they went into surgery, they found out that he had THREE tubes, instead of the normal two, and so was still very much ACTIVE. A further surgery, and that took care of the matter. In his lifetime he had 4 children. Six grand-children and two great-grand-children. At least I think that was all at the time. We got a big family picture done before he got sick, and this is how I like to remember him. Even though we have a picture in the living room without hair, he's still pretty lovable.

And I do miss him a lot. The grand-kids cried at the funeral. I would have been fine, if not entirely stoic, if it hadn't been for the grand-kids crying. All I could remember was dad letting them take the garden tractor and put the wagon on it, carting everybody around the property. I don't think that's been done save perhaps once since dad died, when their parents brought them up on holiday. I'm hoping they come again this summer.

As for my hubby, I'm sure he realized that it was Father's day. His daughter called to wish him a good day. I bought him some underwear. All around good present, actually, since the last time I bought them was at least 10 years ago. I get them every 10 years or so, whether he needs them or not. However, his son didn't call. I'm not sure why. Hubby didn't think he'd get a call from his son, but I'm not sure why he didn't call. You would think that he would call--it's not like they were on bad terms or anything. I asked my hubby if he was thinking about his dad that day, and he said "yeah, some", and then he got up and said "Let's go outside and burn brush!"

And so we did, because all in all, life goes on, and there are always other things to do to push life to it's fullest and get the most out of it...before you can't get anymore out of it. I suppose I come away from all this, wishing that things could have been different in the relationship with my own father, but there's really no sense to beating myself up about it. There comes a time in a little girl's life that she just quits trying and quits hoping that things will get better and change and be safe and if not happy, then at least reasonable. So that's where I'll leave it rest now.

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