Memories We Share - Part One
The thunder shakes the very foundation of our house and lightening strikes like a cobra, closer, more threatening with each flash. I watch as people hurry to their cars and struggle to see the roads they drive to their jobs, to their normal lives.
It is fitting that as we sit here discussing and planning his dying the skies proclaim that this is no ordinary day. If the skies were bright with sunshine and puffy white clouds floated serenely by I would surly scream out the agony that has consumed every ounce of me.
“Yes,” I acknowledge his requests. “You wish only to be cremated, no funeral, no urn, your ashes to be scattered. You do not desire any measure taken to prolong or revive life. You do not mind a celebration of your life if I keep it simple and I know you think no one will attend, but as we’ve discussed that is something for me, not you"
I will need a formal goodbye, a recounting of our many years together and a telling of your goodness and your response to a life that did not often deal you a winning hand. Even now, you push all of your chips to the middle of the table with a certainty etched on your face that only I can see through. The few others that bother to inquire see the bravado you have always projected and go on about their lives as if nothing has changed.
Before us, many knew you as the man obsessed with his work, often holding down three jobs at once. You would push yourself to the limit and just beyond and then disappear for days, not lost in a bottle of Jack Daniels, but having arrived home to your comforter, your love. There you would stay until some part of your soul would be quieted enough to begin the chase again and as long as the paychecks kept coming, your former wife accepted this, even welcomed your absence from your marriage bed and continued on with her life and that of the two children. If you provided enough, performed as expected, she might have a kind word or one not as harsh and your children grew understanding your place and your purpose. How very sad and what a loss that two such troubled people met and joined in a marriage as if combining years of pain and untold secrets would heal deep scars. How tragic that only as you told her you wanted a divorce that her past of being sexually abused by her drunken mother’s one night lovers would surface, far too late for you to have enough compassion left to undo the years she projected her hate onto you and made you the butt of her contempt for men. She had treated you as they had treated her, used you up, and left you lying in a place of shame and loneliness, wondering what you had done to deserve such a fate and having no one who could or would comfort you or teach you it was not your fault, as it was not hers.
Panic of a missing paycheck sent her into a fury that she openly shared with the children and try as you would to spend time with them, always providing above and beyond anything the courts would require, it was only when there was a large payoff that they chose to be with you for a few hours. I tried to show them who you are, how much you longed for a life different than what the four of you had experienced. I even felt there was progress for a time, until the mistrust and poison their minds had been filled with outweighed any monetary gain. Perhaps if you had left earlier, before they were teenagers with already formed opinions of what place you were supposed to fill, there could have developed a bond that could have grown into at least a mutual respect of feelings and maybe, eventually love. I tried for many years to believe they only felt pain, desertion and that the jealousy of our marriage, complete with my son and daughter is what fueled their feelings. It was the indifference that shocked me, that left me without the means to act as a catalyst of peace and caring. I wonder to this day if there was something you or I could have done but I saw no evidence of it and the years produced only a stronger estrangement.
But you, planted in love, grew out of your place of torment and into a husband and mentor to my children as fine as any family could desire. Oh, yes there were battles! My own children were teens when you came into our lives and my son in particular fought you for the place his father had left vacant. They witnessed just enough of our relationship that did not contain abuse, ugly names hurled at me, marks left on my body and my soul – just enough to give validity to what I had tried to tell them was not the way a family should function, not the way to treat another or to allow to happen to them. They kept watching for you to fail, for our love to be proven a lie, a façade. As another year was added to the one before and a decade added to those they had learned a new respect for me because that is what they saw demonstrated by you. It was a slow and often painful process and how you withstood the pressure of being between an over protective, inconsistent mother and two scarred children, I will never be able to comprehend. If the roles were reversed, I know I could not have survived that place. One thing that you can never claim though is indifference. We all had interaction with you and your place in the family was cemented in years of true labor from all four of us. Blessedly, the four of us came together not haven given up on finding a place called family.
What will we do without you?