Father's Day edition (we celebrate everything late don't judge me.) This is where things began to change for me again.
Lady was still in pretty rough condition overall, and her and D were still my whole world so even though I was living with my boyfriend I was over there four days a week and on the phone with her probably ten times a day when I wasn't, in and out of emergency rooms with her every other week (‘blacklisted from this hospital as fisher? Well let’s go to this one!’ And ‘which trap house are we dragging Mom out of today?’ were still frequent and fun games of course.). Things were pretty chill for a while, I still drank and got stoned to play super Mario Brothers on Wii with my crew but all the other extra curricular activities had dropped off, I rarely even took the pain meds.
Things were pretty settle, my boyfriend and I had a very comfortable relationship and it was good. I started talking to my step-dad more and when I'd make plans with my Dad it would only take three or four 'hey I can't make it, next week?'s.
Until after about a year one day he actually showed up, and almost on time! I looked at my boyfriends mom and asked her if hell had frozen over... Then it happened again, and again and all of a sudden we were having holidays together again and going fishing with the kids and seeing him on a regular basis. I completely credited his fiancée for that, I thought she must have been dragging him out by his ear. Really it was much more complicated than that, she loved him. Of course I didn't understand any of those complexities quite yet but I didn't care why he was back like that, just that he was.
My mom had started to stop answering all of my questions, and instead guided me to my own solutions. There was a point when I was eighteen... My mom called me to tell me she'd been diagnosed with brain tumors. A benign type, and caught early, but inoperable. The moment we hung up I flew into a wild panic attack, hyperventilating so hard my boyfriend wanted to take me to the hospital and I remember telling him through gasps to call my Dad, I wanted my Dad. He called my sister instead and got the advice to give me a muscle relaxer... It worked, I fell asleep with a chunk of pepperoni in my hand.
It wasn't very long after that she told me her kidneys were starting to fail again and we sat in her car in the middle of the night discussing all of the possibilities, that if she went into a coma to pull the plug, that she wanted to be cremated, I said "I'm not wearing black to your funeral, I wear all black all the time." She laughed
"Yeah don't wear black, wear a happy color, like yellow.", we had a light and airy conversation about her dying.
Of course that wasn't enough, it never is…
As boyfriend and I sat down to dinner one night I got a text.
"Accident hurt call 555-555-5555"
Que hyperventilating. I called my sister and she was in front of me on the phone with whoever's phone number that was in minutes, and got us a destination. We ran into the ER in a panic. My sister started asking questions, I sat down with my Dad and took pictures (somehow in crazy situations I always manage to keep my head in that way) of the dried bloodstreams winding down his face and his hand all torn up. He was conscious but hardly. We were informed that his fiancée was conscious and alert and being treated, Ski washed the blood off of his face while we waited for them to bring the next of kin consent forms for her to sign. Nana was out of state so Ashley got the privilege of singing on his behalf because like I said he wasn't exactly coherent and he wasn't married.
His fiancée came in and we got some of the story. They had D, and had dropped him off and went back to work to switch vehicles (dealership perks)... Made it about a block and got t-boned by some asshole running a red light. Sound familiar? My Dad grabbed at the open window out of reflex and the truck rolled, and rolled, and rolled, and dragged with his hand underneath it.
He somehow managed to free his hand, crawl out, try to get his fiancée who was trapped out until the EMTs got there and send me the text before completely losing his awareness. They were both injured pretty good, his fiancée had to have back surgery. He had to basically have his hand reconstructed and his shoulder reattached, his back injuries were so bad they never bothered with surgery because it probably would have done more harm than good, and the disks in his neck were messed up as well. The irony of the situation was not lost on me. Both of my parents wound up in almost exactly the same situation.
People ask me sometimes about why I get anxious in the car... I tell them I'm not afraid of dying in a car accident, I'm afraid of living through one. Seeing my Dad in my Moms situation was terrifying. I'd watched her spiral down the path of addiction, wither in depression, and struggle to exist... Yeah, scary. Life kept moving though, it always does...
That guy and I were together for three years, even got engaged. Like I said our relationship was really comfortable but after so long I started getting restless, unhappy with comfortable... I wanted more out of life, I wanted to progress, I wanted to grow. My Dads fiancée with her unique perceptive abilities noticed my growing discontent. When we went for Christmas in '09 she took me aside and said that her and Dad had been talking, and that if I wanted I could move in with them. They laid out some terms and conditions, basically I had to progress. Exactly what I wanted to do. So, I gave my shiny diamond ring back, packed up and moved in with my Dad and his soon to be wife.
For a couple of months not too much happened, I turned 20 and for the first time ever I got both of my mom's and my Dad in the same room with no dirty looks (Moms didn't get along at all until well after Dad and step-mom's divorce), then with my Dads fiancées guidance got my GED and started learning how to drive (yes at 20). I also had unprecedented access to the man I was essentially cloned from. The man I looked just like but really knew nothing about
I started asking questions, I started having conversations. I started getting to know and getting close both of them. One day they decided why wait? And planned a little impromptu wedding, I helped her pick out her dress, I watched my Dad tear up when she tried it on, I watched them say I do.
It was just after that on a perfectly uneventful day as I sat at the dining room table eating a bowl of cookie crisp that my entire perception of reality was irrevocably changed....
I looked over at my father watching TV and I didn't see my Dad. I saw a person. I saw a person who had an entire lifetime of trials and tribulations, highs and lows, mistakes and successes outside of me, outside of my field of awareness and I had had no idea. With that revelation instantaneously came one just as profound. He had no idea.
That the entire time he was acting in a way that he had been conditioned to, that the entire time he did really love us, he did care. That making sure we had everything and anything we wanted growing up was the only way he knew how to show that. The entire time he was busting his ass to progress and provide and he never saw, he never really knew what was going on, what was below the surface... Just as I hadn't. I saw that yes, because his wife had come in and started the process of learning how to love, he was trying. That she hadn't been dragging him out by his ear. He was trying.
I saw that as much as for the past ten-ish years I had truly believed he wasn't capable of looking past his nose, I had never once looked past mine.
He had hardly shown up for practices or games or competitions, if I wanted to reach him I'd have to have him paged at the dealerships, there was a strong lack of physical presence for a very good portion of my life and I assumed that meant he didn't care, that he didn't want to be around us...
When really we had to page him at work because he was always there. He was always there to make sure those practices and games and competitions were paid for, to make sure that we could do what we loved.
I assumed that as a teenager I didn't see him much because he couldn't be bothered with us. That he didn't care about our situation...
When really when he came home from Florida he was going through a divorce and stepped away from the life he'd spent the past twelve years building for us and was starting from scratch, to only a few months later lose his father, and he didn't know.
I saw, for the first time, my father through the holographic image I had created of him as a whole and complex human being doing the best that he could in the situations he was given.
I smiled into my bowl of cereal, and probably very randomly to him said "Love you Dad."
"Love ya too kid."
I got up, put away the my bowl and we watched some Bonanza.
Not today Satan.
So I realized that my father is in fact a human being, did that mean we were perfect and had no problems after? Absofuckingloutly not, but we had a starting line. I got irritated a lot because I felt like he was treating me like a child. I was twenty years old and no one had treated me like a child since I was fourteen. I think he got irritated a lot because I acted like a child. It's true, I really did... Because no one had treated me like a child no one had taught me how not to be.
They had to show me how to use the damn washer and dryer.
I had no idea how to properly function. None. Of course I thought I did, looking back now I think it's kind of funny. I still randomly apologize to his wife about what a little shit I was. We didn’t really understand each other for a long time… I must say we are both much better at communicating with each other now, but for a while there tensions still flared quite often. There were a lot of times when I lived with them that he thought I was being a spoiled brat, and I thought he was just being a prick, but you know what?
In the couple of years I lived with them I learned more about life, and functioning that I had in the twenty years prior. With the two of them I got a much better understanding of how the world works on personal and impersonal levels… Ah I’m getting ahead of myself a bit, backtrack.
I spent the summer getting to know him better (and arguing a fair amount). I feel like he started to see the scope of my situation, it started with him being around for the “Lady got arrested in a raid, her truck is impounded.” “Lady mouthed off to the judge he gave her a few days.” “Hey can I borrow $?” “Come to the hospital with me, my stomach hurts I don’t want to go alone.” calls and my subsequent irritations, his wife was good at keeping me sane with a lot of “Okay breathe, have a glass of wine, there’s nothing you can do.”’s The pedal hit the metal that summer too…
There were of course things he still didn’t know about, like the time she picked me up up and brought me with her to buy crack… and tried to get me to engage in a text flirt situation with her dealer to get free crack. Oh and then smoked it right in front of me while dismissing my concerns. She started leaving the house a lot, which was abnormal. Some family members were happy for it, saying ‘at least she’s not in the bathtub!’ and ‘she seems much happier!’, I on the other hand was there while my nephew cried for his Nana at night, knowing exactly what she was really doing.
And I was pissed.
We started to fight, we never had before… at one point while dropping me off my Dad with his broken ass back had to nearly pick me up, push me out of her room, and shut the door behind him to stop us screaming at each other. I don’t know what they said to each other in there, but he calmed her down while I collected myself. A good amount of the time I was over there with D (who is referred to in other posts as 12 and will be switching soon to 13) I was on the phone leaving messages screaming at her and calling a long list of people trying to hunt her down.
We did still have out moments though, like the night she called me and we talked about me starting college in a week, she told me how proud of me she was, and she made me promise to get at least a 3.85 GPA, because that’s what she got in school. She asked me to go with her to the hospital… She sounded alright, she was laughing and joking, so I told her I was really tired, and that if she still wanted to go tomorrow I’d go with her. We hung up like we always did,
“I love you Lady, buh-bye.”
“I love you too.”
Ski came over the next day and we hung out for a while, normal day. Uncle came to get her, stayed to chat for a minute and they left. About half an hour later my phone was ringing, as I answered the last bit of the sandwich I was eating fell to the floor. My sister was in hysterics, she hardly managed to force the words out.
“She’s not breathing! She’s not fucking breathing! I’m getting in the ambulance, Sisters!”
That dastardly devil plays a tricky game doesn't he? Always watching and waiting in the dark, planning his moves.