Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Eulogy of Sorts..

For those wondering where I've been, I apologize for the absence but I needed some time.

On November 26th of this year, a little after midnight, my father passed over to the other side. In a way it had been a while in the making, as my father led a life of hard drinking, smoking and numerous other habits that tend to lead to an early grave. Still, I hadn't really planned on being one parent down before the age of 30, certainly not mere weeks after my wedding.

I had a complex, confusing relationship with my father. He was an incredibly difficult man to live with, tortured by mental illness and internal demons he seemed unable to conquer. He was even more difficult to communicate with. His demons made him answer everything with severe bouts of anger, violence, paranoia, and insanely erratic behavior.  I spent my teen years and my early 20s hating him but let go of much of that hate ages ago. That's not to say my anger left entirely, only cooled to a level that didn't entirely hinder the chance of my life feeling successful. I haven't had the hate in years, but I'm not entirely sure I loved the man he became in later years.

I explained to my husband (who never had a chance to meet his father in law) that I feel as if I am grieving for different people. Or maybe just one man - the man trapped deep inside the shell that presented itself as my father. On one hand, I feel like I am living my own version of the film Death At A Funeral, with someone handing me pictures of this man, saying "this is who he really was", I'm reeling from the shock of some of the information I've been given.

On the other hand, I look back on the life of my dad and feel like he had some sort of demon possession. That seems to be the easiest way to explain the dichotomy in his personality - the dad that only rarely made an appearance, the one that was funny, who would actually listen to you , tell you a cool story, the one that even gave you props from time to time for doing something impressively - that guy vs the guy that seemed to take up the majority of his life : the one that was judgemental, hypocritical, mean, abusive, just downright awful and at times pure evil - no other word for it. I have memories of looking into that man's eyes and seeing straight into hell. In a way it may be responsible for very few things having the ability to scare me now. So why am I grieving?

That's the question I've been asking myself every day. For decades, this man doled out so much pain and abuse on nearly anyone he met. Living my childhood in a constant state of survival and terror at home meant the loss (because there was no time or teacher to learn from) of decent social skills and the ability to talk to anyone -- particularly guys (I just had to work that out through trial and error.. and believe me, there was a whole helluva lot of error on my part!). It would leave me feeling as if I were cast out to fend for myself in the world with very few skills to go off of.  It meant I would spent my first few years of my adult life bitter and suspicious of any kindness shown me. The theme of my life for the most part has been "just survive, it has to get better ... it HAS to". (Thankfully, that voice of faith proved to be true!).

 It's developed in me a very self - sufficient nature, a belief that I can figure anything out given time, but also an  incredibly lonely existence. Even now, being married to the most loving man a woman could ask for, I have days where I feel so within myself because I fear sharing all the memories.

For years I thought the news of this day would give me some sort of MLK "Free At Last" moment. So what do I grieve for?? There is something... 

I grieve for the wasted life. The man that could have been, the man that almost was... the great father, the husband who honored his wife. I grieve the man who once took us on camping trips, the man who would read us The Night Before Christmas by candlelight every Christmas Eve when we were little, the Navy Corpsmen I called Dr. Daddy when I was barely out of my toddler years. I grieve the man that gave me a love of old Hollywood movies, Motown songs and especially Sam Cooke - the artist he taught me to dance to when I was seven (and yes, I stood on his feet lol). Cooke is STILL my all time favorite artist and has never failed to pick my spirits up. I'm sure now I'll have his songs on repeat for quite awhile!

I grieve the man who, after I asked him why I looked so different from so many of my friends and why did I have this big ol' nose (which was much more prominent when I was younger than now but still larger than what one normally sees on a woman) when most of my friends had petite or button noses, taught me to never be ashamed of my mixed race or apologetic of my dark red hair, brown-black eyes and slightly tinted skin, to be proud of my Native American & dark Irish (or "Black Irish as they are called in US - a misnomer in Ireland) roots, the man who told me to tell anyone who had a problem with that to f-off. In the years since that talk, I've had some men deem me "exotic" looking and verbalize their appreciation for my unusual features. Thankfully, my husband (of Irish-German ancestry aka very white lol) loves his "lil' shot of mocha" :-D

Native Pride

Lots of mixed emotions here, which I'm sure (or at least I sincerely hope) will be sorted out over time. Maybe at least I will get to where I can say "Still don't know what to think, but I'm okay with it now". 

This book blog will continue, because it provides an outlet for me, a small corner of bibliotherapy. My books have always been my safe haven, my comfort zone, my therapist, my moral compass even. They blocked out the sounds of my parents fighting, they gave me faith that there is beauty in the world if you take the time to quiet yourself enough to see it, books told me there WAS a true knight out there for me, maybe not one that wore armor (because how unwieldy would that be in today's world!), maybe not one that spoke Middle English or even one that would know how to joust or fence. BUT.. the books told me there would be a man with the HEART of a knight - he would be honorable and kind, he would never raise his voice to me, never speak ugly of me, he would fight any foe that dared to endanger me, he would have that much spoken of "rapier wit" and devilish smirk. He may not sing ballads or write odes but he would have a wildly romantic streak and a equally passionate drive to bed me ;-) 

The Compleat Angler by Arthur Hughes

And whaddaya know - I found this mythical man with the heart of a knight and married him just as soon as he let me! He even turned out to be a firefighter - which, wouldn't you say, is a reasonable modern facsimile to the knights of storybooks?  

So that's been the reason for the absence. Slowly but surely life continues. Thank you for your readership and please continue to stop by and leave your thoughts on anything you see here! :-) 

Thanks for your patience during this time....