Now I am a work, and I think that coming was a mistake. The Metro was bad enough, then the uphill walk to work, and then we had a fire alarm, and I had to hobble down six flights of stairs, and my ankle hurts so bad, that the swelling is cutting off circulation in my ankle brace.
I want to talk about something that shuttergal had mentioned about my father in my previous post. Why did you not immediately part ways after you mother died? She's right, that is a complex web. Here's the short version.
First, part of me wanted to be the good guy. I felt that part of "being the good guy," was to let bygones be bygones. After all, I was an adult, married, and with a kid. I sort of wanted to prove that I was right about him, but felt I was wrong, all I had to lose was my pride, of which I placed little value on at the time (and I still don't take very seriously). If I was wrong, and we made up, I felt that would be a good thing. It was a win-win situation, I felt. Either I'm right, or would have a dad.
There were also other times in my life my father actually did nice things for me, but they were so rare and so far apart, I always felt they were subversive in nature, and I always felt suspicious of his intent. Many times, I found out that, yes, they were subversive, but a scant few memories of when he did something nice for me with no strings attached still linger like the conflicts in in the book, "The Birdman of Alcatraz." He was nice to the cats, too, and Shasta liked him. He got me out of the mental hospital, he occasionally took me out to museums, and he once bought me a book. And even though I have caveats to this statement, he did let me have my own room growing up, and he was the moneymaker that got me fed and clothed many times growing up.
I guess when I got married, I wanted to give him a fair shake so I knew, for once and for all, if he was a good guy or bad guy. I felt I owed him this, him being a human being and all, and hoped that we could pick up the pieces of our shattered relationship together. And he chose poorly.
We tried to invite him over for holidays and events, and he did show up, but generally acted in such a manner it was required to warn people ahead of time. At our wedding he was dismissive, rude, claimed I made a mistake, and there was the famous incident when Uncle Dick, who also owned a yacht, asked my after about his. My father, who used to brag about his boat, claimed he did not have one. We figure he was afraid of bonding, or maybe he was afraid this West Virginian family would go after his gold or something. He showed up to a few Christmases, him and Nicole, for an hour alone, and I was usually ignored. He also showed up to a few of CR's birthday parties, and we stopped inviting him after that "piano player in a whorehouse" incident because, well, my friends deserve better treatment. Oh, and also when CR was 5 and learning to read, he figured out that McLean was really close to Reston, not "very far away," like he assumed, and his only grandfather never saw him even though he lived 20 minutes away. He was very sad after that. "All he does is gives me a present, eats my cake, and leaves..." he said, sadly. My father was never asked back.
My father took me and my family out to my 30th birthday in 1998 to a Chinese restaurant. He didn't speak to me, but spoke almost exclusively to Christine, ignoring my son and I for the most part. That was weird. I really tried to be pleasant, but I feel the God's lesson (or whatever) behind this was the only incident that I remember: I boasted about a job where I did some contract work for a company that did airplane blueprints, and wanted to set up a searchable database for them. I was proud because I made like $3000 for that. My father said, in his usual dismissive tone, "Well, I don't think anyone uses blueprints anymore..." in that tone I was making it all up and lying like some pathetic child. That's when some reassuring voice in my head said, "Hey, it doesn't matter. You know it's true, and you have the cash to prove it." For some reason, I felt a LOT less personally attached to his insults after that.
A year later, he called me to tell me he was moving, but suspiciously avoided telling me where, saying he was going to "sail around" in his yacht for a while. Then he was gone. I sent him some e-mails, and he responded to two of them like one responds to a hostess you don't know that's planning a dinner party. It was so distant and formal, I had to respond with, "So that's it? It's over? Do you have any idea how rude it is to just leave it hanging with so much unfinished business?" It was his last chance, and his two-line response read like someone who was trying to be diplomatic, but distant. "I don't know what motivates you to say the things you do," he said. "But I am sure you think you have your reasons. Best regards, Dr. Arvid G. Larson."
About 10 years ago, back when my family thought about adopting, we took mandatory, but very appreciated foster parenting classes. One of the things the social workers said was no matter how abused a child is, they consider taking away the child from their parents as a very, very last resort. Why? Because of the trauma of separation. They have had kids who fared far worse than I; locked in closets, chained to beds, fed from scraps left on plates, and used as sexual favors for money. They have removed little boys and girls from hellish conditions where they were close to starving, witnessed murders of their own siblings and half siblings, and lived every day thinking that death is their only salvation. And yet... they plead not to be taken away. And if you ever want to know why... I hope you never find out, I hope you never truly understand, because that paradox is like a festering wound in my gut that will never heal. No matter how many therapists, no matter how many drugs, no matter how many pats on the back or people who knew my father telling me that my father was a terrible man, and it's best this way... ow.
Maybe, if you are still thinking that saying, "Oh, it will pass..." I want you to see this:
[work safe, but requires the latest version of Flash]
This is why forgiving is so, so hard.