Sunday, June 19, 2011

Journal 33 What the Obit Did Not Say Part One

It's been the nicest, hottest, most-consistent weekend, weather-wise, of 2011. That's saying alot.
It's Father's Day, that Hallmark Holiday that arrived with such ill-apt timing this year. Invented, it feels, this year, for those of us who are lacking.
And I feel lacking. After all, it's my first father's day without him. It's only two days since his funeral, with all its' surreal surrounding circumstances, meeting people I didn't know, missing people (his sister) whom I thought for sure would make it through. On another odd note, the origins of this post didn't start in my loft, on my computer, my fingers flying on the keys; they began in a notebook, a way of writing I left behind almost a decade ago.
I'm on my rooftop garden, alone, pen in hand reviewing the week that has been, and here is some of what the Obit does not say.
It didn't say that I drove to work Monday morning, June 13th, with my heart in my throat. I had missed my mother's early morning call (I was in the shower, getting ready for work), and as I tried to call her back, the line was busy. My slow Monday-morning drive continued as I inched along in traffic, finally calling my sister to get her to try and call my mom and make sure 'nothing was really wrong' mother's message was a vague call for help, but by now I was used to these signals. But as my sister reached my mother, her haltingly worried speech something new, something different, my efforts for a well-planned day were slowly, softly, unravelling. I said to my sister, while still in the car, crossing the 401, where the DVP turns into the 404, "I can't take much more of this". My sister was worried. I'd repeated this phrase, privately to her only, a number of times in recent weeks.
Also what the Obit does not say.
That the blow-up with my Aunt and Cousin, my dad's sister and niece, respectively, whom, although loved and welcomed, had made it their Business from Day One to be as plaintively interfering as possible, my Aunt taking cues from her mentally-ill, unbalanced daughter. My favourite aunt, the one who talked me off the ledge, as I sat on the floor of my loft last July, after a smarting break-up. The subtle blow-up occurred anyway.
In my previous entries I wrote about how insanely protective I was feeling of both my parents that Sunday morning, June 12th, intuition on full-tilt, family privacy a matter of right, not something granted by extended family members when they deemed it so.
Some instinct in me was telling me to be with my family, my family of origin that day, with no interference. My reaction was so over-the-top, even for me, that my sister decided to go with me to my parents for the Sunday visit, and to make sure my Aunt and Cousin knew that when we arrived, it was their cue to leave. They had been filling up my father's sick room with their energy, raw, possessive, and angry, for two full days.
I had been filling my own head with thoughts of utter hatred towards my cousin, and the thought that my own strong-willed, kind, aunt, could not rein this adult in, keep her in check somehow, seemed obscene and infuriating to me. I was very on edge as Lisa and I arrived at the home we'd lived in with our parents, where these outsiders insisted on ruining our peace, to the very end.
When we arrived and went up to our father's sick room, my aunt and cousin made a hasty exit, I will note, my aunt pulled up a chair for me to sit near my father's bed. My cousin gave me her best saccharine "I DO feel real emotions" stare, her eyes empty, my hands limp at my sides; no hugs, no slaps. I restrained every part of myself to allow some peaceful time with my father. Our imperfect relationship loomed large at this point, but at no time did I think that I had less than forty-eight hours to say good-bye. I was so focussed on my ire toward my aunt and my cousin, especially after seeing the note my mother had shown me after I came downstairs. My mother had written down the cruel words my cousin spoke to her as they arrived, univited, at my parents' house;
"Don't worry, Aunt Paulette. After Jim is gone we won't impose or bother you ever again". Well, at least she admitted by then that they were imposing.
When we arrived, they ostensibly left. But, it turned out they just went to get themselves a bite to eat, offering my mother nothing. They came back. My cousin stayed in the car, Hollywood-shades on her face, a butter-wouldn't-melt-in-her-mouth expression; my Aunt came into the house, my Dad finally having some rest, and as she mounted the stairs, this woman I loved like a mother; I heard myself hiss at her:
"He's sleeeepingggggggggggg".
Much like her arrival that morning,she defied my wishes again.
My sister sent me out to get my mom's groceries to avoid further confrontation, and I will always remember her level-headedness about this; I backed out of the driveway in a fury, tires squealing, bombing down the street, my cousin's shocked look in my head as I went to the grocery store.
My Aunt commented to my mother I neither hugged nor looked at her.
I wish my Mom had the presence of mind that I had asked for privacy for all of us that day, and that she defied my wishes, even though I was on the verge of losing my father, my only father, my imperfect father, me, his imperfect daughter, but my mother, amiable to the end, let this go.

The obit does not say how they skipped the funeral, and in some respect this was my prayer answered; not so much for my beloved aunt but for her sick family; and at no time have my aunt and I had an opportunity to talk about the 'discord' as her brainless daughter so flippantly describes it, that went on. Her daughter talks about a possibility of stroke. Of forgetfulness upon the news of my dad's death, which I called to tell them about around 6pm Monday June 13th, three hours after he died, my mom and I with him. My sister arriving after, to say her own private good-bye.
No "I'm so sorry".
The other evening, in my parents' house, where I stayed for the last week, I had a late-night crying jag, alone, in the den, on the couch that has been my bed for the nights that I've stayed there. I cried, missing my dad. I cried, for all his suffering, his fear, his pain, and my inability to make any of that better for him. I cried for the new memory of being there with him, holding him, as he took his last breaths. About the person who I would have wanted comfort from more than almost anyone, my Aunt.
And how loud her silence has been this week.

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