Six years ago this past week, my dad died. I think I'm finally coming to terms with it all, coming to terms with the fact that he was no father to me, that he literally left my sister & me to fend for ourselves almost twenty years prior to his death, when my sister & I were merely teenagers. Ahh, but that was just the legal part (if it's even true, but who cares, because to delve deeper would involve characters in my life that I hate and care not to associate with ever again).
In retrospect, "dad" left me and my sister behind, many years before that. Recent revelations make a lot of shit make sense and at the same time leave me as confused as ever. But one thing is for sure, I should never have even tried to pretend I had a biological father growing up. I just wish I hadn't wasted all that energy pretending I did.
I'm working on closure, or whatever you want to call it. Kinda hard, because the one thing I really want to do is confront that asshole, about a lot of things, but he's just a collection of ashes in my so-called stepmother's house, a property I will never set foot on again, and a property I was never comfortable setting foot on in the first place.
I'm in a weird place. Of course I'm not glad he's dead, or that he went through such a horrible experience as cancer. I just wish I could have realized years ago that he was not worth dealing with, not worth divorcing myself from the rest of his family, not wasting all the energy. It would have made the lead-up to, and the aftermath of, his death so much easier.
But how strange it is, to have all these "ah ha" moments, years after the fact; they have been flowing for months, ever since my sister & I finally requested a copy of dad's will -- an attempt at closure which, for the last few months, it has opened more wounds, but I believe ultimately will close the books on this for good. A friend rhetorically asked me recently, "was he really such a horrible man?". The answer is yes, and it's because he managed to present a front of kindness that makes people question my judgment on him, while all the time he was alive he was being a cheater and a liar and a shirker of responsibility to humans he brought into the world. He was good, to many people -- when he could manage, and when it suited him. But he was rarely much to me and I say you bring a person into this world, you suck it up and be good to that person, you be a father to that person. You raise him, as best you can (even being a guy who left the house when your son is all of five years old, because you wanted to take up with a secretary you were having sex with while you were married to the aforementioned son's mother (and let's not even get into all the other women that followed, for years, women the son knows about and can prove, in case certain people are reading)).
And that means being involved in his life, caring about what he's interested in, even if it's not what you're interested in. Being a force in the kid's life. Being a fan, an advocate, when you can (full time is the ideal, but more than 2% is required, I feel).
Not pretending to be the kid's father.
Not expecting to get a pass, when the kid is an adult.
Certainly not making the kid never want to have kids of his own -- which is precisely what my dad did.
You can go back and read my posts from six years ago, when I struggled with the feelings of loss and anger simultaneously. It's not evident in many of the posts, I was busy playing the sad son. But under the surface, starting from the day of his memorial service, a lot of shit came roaring back. And it's been messing with me ever since.
I'd like to say this post is some sort of liberation decree, that starting today I walk forward without the memories of all that was wrong with my childhood (and adolescence, and hell, even adulthood), but alas I cannot guarantee that. Shit, I wouldn't be writing this if that were true. But I am resolving today to start exhaling. And breath by breath, the shit inside me that is the product of four decades of bullshit and denial, will be expunged from my mental database. If I can't do that, I'll go crazy.