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.