Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dead

So. He's dead, my father. He died the last day of June. He was ninety years old, and had been in a nursing home since 2006, after a stroke put him there.

I was not surprised. He'd been fading for a long time, and he was very old. Even before the stroke he'd had some dementia.

In the end it was an infection. Friday he was moved from the nursing home to the hospital, and by Sunday morning he was dead.

I am not sad. There is nothing for me to mourn. While I may still be in the process of mourning the father I never had, and while songs in particular about good fathers have been known to make me cry (Nanobots I'm looking at you) there's nothing there for the person my father was. He was simply too much of an asshole to me, to us, for me to mourn.

A year or two ago my therapist at the time asked me to come up with a good memory of my father. I think she thought I was being too negative about all this (she has since been fired, because you don't pull that attitude with a victim of abuse, sorry). I racked my brains and genuinely couldn't find one. I could remember him being nice to the cats, or pleasant to other people, but none of it directly involved me.

Not too long ago, a few months maybe, I did remember one. When we had that big blizzard in 1978, when I was in second grade, my father built us a sled trail. It went down a hill, up another smaller one, around a banked corner and ended by the stone wall in back. I don't remember asking him to do it. It is a good memory. I don't know now why he did it. We benefited from it, sure, but I have a really hard time believing he wasn't doing it primarily for himself, in some kind of vicarious way.

At any rate, that one memory is not enough.

I am relieved, which is not surprising; even if he had been loved by me, the death of someone so old who had been more or less a vegetable his last few years would have been a relief, because I'd know they were finally free of it. But he wasn't loved by me. I am not ashamed to admit it, though it makes me a little sad that it is true. Because everyone should have a father they love. Everyone should have a decent father. Everyone, every child is entitled to one.

A day or two after his death I realized that the sudden feeling of lightness, the feeling of my shoulders being down where they should be, was a feeling of freedom.

I think it was honestly the first time in my life I'd ever truly felt that way.

I think that says it all.

17 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Enjoy the feeling of lightness. May it never leave you again.

swimmermom said...

I understand.

Elaine said...

It's a new beginning for you and Tara. Live long in the lightness.

Elaine

lisa merito said...

I understand. Wish I didn't.

Anonymous said...

Bless you both. I hope that you find a little peace. We do understand where you are coming from.

Catanea said...

Yes, a long, light future to you both!

Anonymous said...

sad that you have only one "good" memory of your dad.
how is your mom? you stated that she was in a car accident a while ago....recovery and grief--yow-ee.
So glad that you feel "light"....
I really enjoy you and your sister's style of posting.
A reader from the chicago area.

Gladys said...

I was very glad when my own father died. That much less negativity, evil in the world.

I'm so glad you're free. Both of you. It's a horrible burden - the worst burden - having your abuser alive and spoken kindly of by strangers and acquaintances. It is never over while that happens. Even just the tenuous ties of LIFE is too much burden.

For me, it wasn't a feeling of GLEE but of quiet happy. The lifting of a heavy load. A door that should never have been opened is firmly closed, sealed shut, safely closed off.

Now it is to you, to both of you, that I want to say 'rest in peace'. If you know what I mean.

lalajia said...

Thinking of you, during this time of change.

TC said...

I'm glad you are feeling the sense of release. I wish it could be for a better reason, but it is good nonetheless.

Suella said...

You have been freed from a bad portion of your lives. I look forward to hearing how you are eventually getting on with the rest of it, should you feel like continuing your blogging. You do write both amusingly and well.

And of course we want to hear morea bout Rusty.

Tonia said...

My dad died in February. As the oldest, I have the good "old" memories of him, before he got sick and scared and turned into a different, less pleasant person. My younger siblings don't have those.

The last ten or fifteen years of his life were the calmest and happiest for all of us. He did indeed mellow.

Beyond the mourning, I found myself struggling with my place in the world.

I'd always had a dad. Now I didn't. It was a different kind of mourning than I'd ever done before. Sure, there was sadness when other people died. But it didn't affect my status, my sense of self, the way having a parent die did. I'm doing a bad job of describing it, but something very fundamental about the way I saw myself in the universe changed when I had no dad anymore.

I think your lightness, your sense of freedom, is that "sense of self" for you. Your place in the world has changed. And given what you've told us about him, your soul is telling you you're in a better place now that he's gone.

Sarah said...

I'm scared that my father will die before he realises what a crappy father he is and apologizes to me. I know that this is exactly what will happen but I can't imagine being glad that he's dead. I need to let go of that hope. So hard to do.

Anonymous said...

@Sarah: I mourned my mother for several years before she finally destroyed herself. I recommend it. Mourn the loss of your father now, the loss of the father you should have had, and you'll be better able to get up and go on with life when death finally comes. My siblings were hit pretty hard; I was just done with the waiting.

Set aside some time when you can be alone, let yourself grieve, and just mourn.

Princess Judy Palmer said...

I haven't stopped by in quite awhile. I think that feeling of lightness is good for you, a good stepping stone to a new life. You've been on that path for awhile now but the journey just got better.

And as many others have said. I understand, not with a parent, but with a sibling.

Anonymous said...

I send you hugs and understanding. I remember a moment when it came to me, "I'm free." A heaviness lifted that I didn't know I had.

It's very hard to move through wishing you had a dad that was different. Give it time.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just got here for the first time. My 91 year old mother is still living in her 13-room hoard, and we now get along because I haven't visited since 2008. Someday, it'll all be my brother's and mine. Lord.

Wishing you healing.