Dying Doesn’t Make You an Angel
Never in a million years did I dream of blogging about my father. He wasn't a very big part of my life (though his absence did play a huge role, I'm sure), and to be honest he just wasn't that important to me. However, I made a post last night on Facebook saying Happy Veteran's Day to my Mom – and some of my extended family didn't like how I worded it.
In all fairness, it wasn't the nicest way to put things I guess, but I thought it was kind of humorous – especially after I saw my half-brother post a photo of our dad, wishing him a Happy Veteran's Day. Um, no. Even though he might be a veteran by “definition”, calling my dad a vet is an insult to those that served their country. My dad was in the Army for all of 5 minutes (long enough to get the picture taken) before he got kicked out. So pardon me if I don't celebrate his “service to his country”.
When I was 4…
One of my very earliest memories – not just of him, but ever – was of my dad and my mom fighting. Mom and I were hiding in the bedroom because he was on one of his rampages again. I don't know if he was drunk (more often than not, he was), but I do remember he was pissed. I was like 4, so I have no idea what led up to the fight or even what happened after – I just remember him kicking the bedroom door in and hitting my mother right in the face. She hit him back and busted his lip, and that's all I remember. Believe it or not, that one incident taught me a lot… so I can't say I'm mad for it happening, but obviously it never should have taken place.
My next memory is of me being locked out of the house. Again, I was like 4. Mom was at work and dad was supposed to be taking care of me. He got drunk and passed out mid-morning. I went out on the porch to play, and somehow ended up getting locked out of the house. I was outside, on my own, until my mom got home about 6 hours later. I walked around the neighborhood and my babysitter actually found me, so I doubt I was on my own for 6 hours… but still. Next.
Mom and dad got a divorce. He came to pick me and my brother up to visit. I think it was the first and last time for several years, because he got high while he was driving with us and I freaked out. I begged my mom to never make us go back. This was when I was about 10.
I remember dad getting sober. He went to a treatment center. That didn't last long. Another disappointment. I don't remember seeing him for a few years after that.
When I was 12…
I visited my grandma for Christmas. My dad showed up – not drunk but smelling like alcohol and weed – and gave me a Christmas gift. I was so excited to see him, even though I had hated him for quite some time… I guess it was just a defense mechanism because when I saw him, it didn't even matter that I knew he had been drinking. I just wanted my daddy. When I opened my presents from him… I remember it like it was yesterday… I was so disappointed. Not because I was a spoiled brat, or not because I had wanted anything specific for Christmas, but because that was when I realized my dad didn't know me at all. He didn't care to know me, he never put the effort in to get to know me.
How'd I realize that over a few gifts?
He got me a Barbie tea set, Barbies, and a soccer ball with orange cones.
I've never liked Barbies, I was always a tomboy – and I hated soccer. I had been playing basketball since I was 7.
From that point on, I kind of shut my heart off to him and I honestly don't remember seeing him much except at Christmas. I got a birthday card in the mail one time but it wasn't even his handwriting. I think my grandma had sent it.
When I was 14…
My mom had always had custody of us, but when I was 14, she became an over the road truck driver. My dad had supposedly been sober for a while, and asked if he could come take care of us while she was out driving. She let him – I have no idea why, though. I mean, he was a charismatic guy, and she really did try to see the best in him. I thought it was a terrible idea, and I was right.
Mom sent money home each week for groceries, bills, etc. Dad had moved in and made himself at home. My brother was ecstatic. It only took a few weeks before mom found out that he was using all of the grocery and bill money on booze, and we were eating ramen and spaghetti-o's for every meal. At 14, I had to take care of the house and home – and deal with everything else normal teenagers deal with. It wasn't fun. Dad disappeared again.
So it's no surprise that,
When I was 15…
I got pregnant. I hated living at home (that's a story for another day), and knew (ha, “knew”) I could make it on my own. My boyfriend and I got married. How? My dad signed for me. No, it wasn't legal – and yeah, that's some backwoods shit to get married at 15. My then father-in-law asked my dad to sign for me, and he agreed – but only if we'd buy him a 6 pack of Mudslides. Whattt?
Yeah, he signed his daughter away for a 6 pack of booze. I mean, I would've at least asked for money – but then again, I'm not an alcoholic.
Then he died.
My dad died when I was 16. He had tried to make amends when I was pregnant with Nell, but really there was nothing he could do to make up for the shitty life he had lived or had given me. We spent time together but at the end of the day I knew it was just out of guilt that we even did that. He was diagnosed with cancer in February, and died in October.
A lot of times I think about my kids having a grandpa, and I wish he was alive – but I know he probably would be the same drunk he always was … so please excuse me when I don't say my father was an angel, because he wasn't. I know his sisters and his other kids like to make him out to be some amazing person – and maybe he was to them, but he sure as hell wasn't to me. I'm not going to pretend just because he's dead.