We’ve never had what you’d call a close relationship. Truth be told, we’ve barely had much of a relationship at all. For years, I never knew the difference. You can’t miss what you haven’t had.
During the many years we lived together, we barely spoke. We weren’t mad or upset. The unfortunate truth is that we just didn’t have anything to say to each other. We’d walk by each other like strangers in an airport, hardly acknowledging each other at all.
Fond memories? Not so much. Yeah, there are moments here and there. But mostly I hoped he wouldn’t notice me. Because when he did, it usually meant I was in trouble. I can’t remember him praising me, telling me I’d done a good job, or even showing interest in anything I ever did.
Things didn’t change much after I moved out. I tried to have a different relationship with him, but he really didn’t seem all that interested. After I left Lexington, we did get a little closer. Closer–not close. We’d talk on the phone every few weeks, and he always seemed genuinely glad to see me when I came home for a visit.
Yes, I’m talking about my father. Then, when I was 45, my parents divorced. Turns out, practically everything I thought I knew about him was a lie.
After the divorce, I decided to wipe the slate clean and start over again. For a while, I thought we were making real progress. Then I found out he’d lied to me about things that happened after the divorce. I understood why he’d lied to me before, but once everything came out, there was absolutely no good reason for him to lie. After an initial period of anger, I let it go.
Things changed for me when my Aunt Toodles died. He didn’t go see her when she was sick, before or after she went into the hospital. He didn’t go to the funeral home for visitation, and he skipped the funeral. Why? Because he was afraid of what people (my mother’s family and friends) would say to him. I can’t find it in my heart to forgive him for that.
And now, he’s dying. The cancer they fought with radiation treatments last year has returned. He says he’ll be here for another year or two, but everyone else thinks he’ll be gone by Christmas.
I visited him back in October when I was in town for my high school reunion. He looked terrible.We were supposed to go out to eat, but he wasn’t able. He was highly agitated–even angry. After about 30 minutes, I left, thinking that I would probably never see him again.
Today I heard he weighs less than 100 pounds and is unable to do anything for himself. His new wife is tired of taking care of him and is planning a long trip in July. Seriously?
She’s never been one of my favorite people. I’m polite to her. Period.
I’m torn about going to see him. The truth is, I don’t want to go. My fear is that if I don’t, I’ll never forgive myself.
What I wouldn’t give right now to be able to talk to my Aunt Toodles again. She’d know just what to say to help me reach the right decision. But I can’t. I’m just going to have to figure it out by myself, here in…
My Glass House