Recently I had an awakening. I have been estranged from my dad and my 4 half-siblings since 1975 but for three brief encounters in the early and mid 1980’s. I have not spoken with my now 78 year old father since 1974. Our estrangement was a mutual one.
My dad left my mom, to whom he’d been married for almost 5 years, when she was 6 months pregnant with me. He left in September, I was born the following December. My dad is an odd duck. Emotionally disconnected, yet a decent man who was hard working and dedicated to doing what men do – work hard to support their families. But he is emotionally dead.
As I grew from a kid who spent weekends and summers with my 3 half brothers and one half sister, we kids had relationships but were not really close. I was always odd man out as it were. They were nice to me when I was there, but if not no biggie. They too are a largely emotionally disconnected group – not slighting or faulting my siblings in any way – they are after all the by products of my dad too and he is the root of all of this.
I am more sensitive than they are. They are all somewhat like him as they grew up with him in their lives daily whereas I dealt with him on weekends and summers mostly. Even as a kid my dad made me nervous. He talked very fast and I had to pay close attention to hear what he said. I had to be “on” as it were all the time. He was never hateful, but he was never demonstrative either. My dad never told any of his kids he loved us. He may well have, but to my knowledge he never said it – certainly never to me. I never remember a hug or nothing. At the time I did not miss it and likely never noticed it then. I decided I would never be like him, especially in his lack of affection toward his kids.
I do credit my parenting to my mom’s love and my dad’s distance. I was determined to not be him, so I compensated by loving my kid hard. He left my mom before I was born, so when me and my daughter’s mother split, I was not giving up my kid for nothing – no way, no how. I told her we could share a dwelling, separate rooms and all, just so long as I was in my daughter’s life everyday. The ex knew I meant business and she had bigger fish to fry than to be a mom to a 3 year old, so she hit the road and I was happy – I had my precious daughter.
Me and my monster are very close. On my FB page she posted pics of me and my mom together and she captioned it “My two favorite people,” or some such and I almost ball every time I see that. I learned to love my step daughter who I wouldn’t trade for the world. I learned about being more accepting of the foibles of others and I needed that lesson as I surely have plenty of my own I guess.
And my incredible Mommy Girl, my wife, is the best thing ever. We just celebrated our 15th anniversary on the 18th and she is the bomb and I am the most fortunate man in the world to have her watching my back. I love that damned gal for sure, for sure. I even like her nutty assed family. They’re too much for me to take at times, but they’re good people. As largely an only child it is just difficult at times to be invaded by the hordes. I make nice, hang a few and retreat to my sanctuaries to enjoy the quiet I grew up in. They are a tribe for sure – a sweet and loving, but nutty as Hell tribe. When they show up I feel like the Krauts on the morning of D-Day, but I do care for them very much.
On the flip side my mom is a lover gal. She loves me, her only child, up to the ends of the Earth. I knew and do know my mom loves me and she shows it everyday in every way and I love her that much too. She taught me to be a man and a good parent and how to love others. I am a deeply emotional person. I am that classic dichotomy of a big, tough guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. I love deeply and sincerely yet have the ability to turn my back on everything else to shield my emotions from harm. Not claiming any of this is emotionally healthy or desirable, but it is who I am and a great deal of it is from my mom’s love and my dad’s distance.
Last week my mom found my step mom and dad on Facebook. I sent a quick note to her saying I hope all are well and that was about it. I got back a reply that my dad is “bad off.” I have since found out he’s in the end stages of Alzheimer’s.
My feelings about his impending end are basically non-existent. I do not hate him – I am realistically indifferent, but it does present a dilemma. I have found a plethora of nieces and two nephews I never knew I had. I got excited for that. I even made plans to meet up with one of them in the area but have decided against that now. As much as I would love to met my beautiful niece, I do not really want to open an emotional Pandora’s box, especially now as my dad’s demise is on the immediate horizon.
Perhaps my feelings will change after my dad passes. I will not go to his funeral. I do not pay respects to people who never had any for me. That might be hard, unyielding and perhaps counter productive, but truly there is no anger or animus at all, but instead only total indifference. That being said, I am shielding myself from any other considerations. As I wrote to my new found niece – I have been an only child for over 35 of my 53 years, and I am fine with it – in fact so fine with it I am not sure I want all the drama reconciliation might entail. I confess to being concerned and at this point, selfish perhaps, but to try and end 35 years of isolation might sound nice in concept but it would surely entail a lot of emotions I am not sure I wish to deal with. Perhaps I am just a coward. More than likely this is just too sudden and with my dad’s impending end on the horizon, I am just not quite inured to that yet. Hell of a time to pop back up after 35 years, no?
Lastly, my biggest regret is meeting through FB one of my nieces who I bonded with so quickly. I hope I have not angered or hurt her in any way. She was my conduit to all I have missed in 35 years, but I gotta confess, I was knocked dumb, when she admitted that before I contacted her, she’d never even heard of me. Ain’t that some shit? I mean, estrangement is one thing, but total irrelevance to the point of non-existence is all another. Still, not her fault though. She’s a cute, sweet and bright girl who has goals and dreams and she’s making them happen. I would love to know her and perhaps she’ll be okay with that sometime in the future when my dad is gone, this is all ancient history and perhaps I can lay eyes on her and give her a long delayed hug and kiss. Who knows the future right?