I know that you have been dead for 20 years now but your legacy of pain still lives on in me. Why am I writing this for the public to view? I guess because closure for me will not be putting it in a journal and putting it on a shelf or burning it after I write it. It's always going to be a part of me and defines who I am today. I have struggled 40 years to overcome YOU and for 40 years I have failed.
You hurt me every day of my life. My spirit has been crushed and every relationship I have ever had has suffered from the one that started with you. How...HOW can you tell a four year old child that you don't love her and that she is stupid and ugly. I still look in the mirror and see the ugliness. I still feel stupid. I wonder why it was your mission in life to make the ones that love you to suffer. What demons did you possess that made you the unloving, harsh, cruel man that I came to know was my father? I often wondered if it was your own childhood but your brothers were such wonderful, loving fathers. I KNOW the fault was in you.
Let me go back and list the painful memories I can remember. They would begin at age four when I sat on my mother's lap and sobbed as you walked out the door to go spend time with friends and their kids and would not take me. You want to know what's pathetic? Sitting on your mother's lap and asking her why my father doesn't love me and her answer? "I don't know why honey and I am so sorry." Wow...she couldn't even fake a love from you to me. She couldn't ease my mind and tell me that you did love me but maybe didn't know how to show it. No...she had to tell me she did not know WHY you did not love me. I have not ever forgotten that moment. As the years went by you gave me the teaching tools that fathers give their children as they grow up. Most fathers give love, encouragement, comfort, discipline. Did you? Oh, you gave me words alright. "Your stupid, ugly and noone will ever love you." Everytime I made a mistake, you were generously on hand to remind me of that too.
Age 13 was another glorious period of my life. By then your marriage was coming to an end and you needed me. I became your best friend then. After all, who else was going to tell the Judge what a wonderful, loving father you were? I wonder what the judge would have thought when he knew that at age 13, I would run into the bathroom and hide in the bathtub every time I heard you drive up to pick me and my brother up for visitation. The sound of your car used to make me want to vomit. I would shake in fear of you. Your whole family did. I wonder if you knew that your five year old son would steal knives from the kitchen and cut up his bedsheets. No, you would not know of the personal suffering we had behind closed doors as a result of you because you only thought of yourself.
Age 15 was the single most painful, tragic year of life for me. You were no longer living with us and thankfully not very much into our lives. After all, you only needed to be a wonderful, loving father for about five minutes with the Judge and then you could relax. That was the year James died. If there was any love in you for your son, then I have sorrow for you for losing a son. Did you have any sorrow for me? Did you ask? I needed you to comfort me too. I will tell you about my sorrow and pain now.
It was so bitter cold that Christmas Day in 1985. So cold that the pipes froze in the house we were living in with my mom, stepdad, stepbrother, stepsister and James. My stepsister and I went with our Grandmother to her house to take a shower. As we walked in the door, the phone started ringing and my stepsister ran to answer it. All of a sudden she started screaming for MiMi to come to the phone and she would not stop screaming. MiMi grabbed the phone and let out the loudest wail I have ever heard. I sometimes still hear it. We ran back to the car and raced back to the house and one of the most horrifying sights I have seen is the thick, black smoke that rose so high into the air we could see it over a mile away. All I knew was that James and my stepbrother were playing in the barn and there was a fire. One got out, the other was still in the barn. Which one? None of us knew as we raced back. What an sick feeling not knowing. We get to the house and the firemen are already there trying to put out an intense blaze. A blaze so intense that it burned for two days. I did not know then that there was over three thousand bails of hay in that barn. I ran to the house wondering who got out and when I stepped in the house and looked on the couch, there curled up into a ball was my stepbrother. He and James snuck matches into the barn and decided to build a fort made out of hay in the second story of the barn. James was on the inside of the fort. My stepbrother was on the outside and jumped out of the second story, James could not get out. His body was not found until the next day. I watch my mother become a shell of a woman that day and I can only imagine what it did to you as well. It's hard to imagine though because both of your children never thought you ever loved us however I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assumed you truly suffered the loss. I felt crushing pain and still do after twenty four years. It was very painful to even write this part and I truly cared that you and mother lost your son and as I look over at my own son who is the same age James was when he died, I cannot imagine the thought of losing him. It is beyond words.
I tried from that point on to look beyond my pain and see yours to forgive and let go until a few months after James died, you sent a card in the mail to my mother. I never told you about this but when I came home from school that day, I was the one to get the mail. I knew your handwriting and even though it was addressed to my mother, I opened it. I wanted to spare here any possible pain that you might cause because you would write here hate letters all the time. This one though was the most vile, disgusting, sickest one you had ever sent and I was the one that opened it. You sent a Thank You card with a newspaper clipping of James' obituary and picture pasted inside it. That one dropped me to my knees and had me screaming right in the front yard. How could you do something so cruel? Did you not think that I might see that? It was so hard to feel your pain when you were deliberately trying to cause others suffering and pain. You just never stopped giving it. I guess you could say that you were the most giving person on earth when it came to handing out the pain.
After that, we had no contact for a few years. I grew up and started the cycle of choosing the wrong kind of men because I was constantly searching for what you never gave and I looked in the wrong places and chose the wrong men. I finally married and because I always had visions of a wedding where I walk down the aisle with my father, I gave you a call. Yes, glutton for punishment. But I was always hoping until the end that you would turn into the father I wanted and needed. It was so pathetic, I used to sob like a baby at those McDonald's commercials because I wanted those little girls who danced on their father's feet and then dance with them at the their wedding's to be like that for me. Thank You Dad for letting me down then too.
Nine months after my wedding you set out to hurt one last time. I planned to drive three hours to you to spend a weekend with you but I got sick and could not come. You had no phone so I was not able to contact you to tell you that. You assumed I was coming and expected me at a certain time so you planned a surprise for me that day. You left your door unlocked and expected me to walk right on in when I got there. Because I could not come, I reached a friend of yours to go over to your house to tell you that I could not be there that weekend. I even told him" the door will be unlocked so you can just go in." He did. He was the one that found you hanging by your belt in the doorway that day. Even the police officer told me himself that you had set that up for me to be the one to find you.
What was it in your life Dad that destroyed every bit of decency, and humanity in you? Was there ever any in there? Even after your death there were no answers to be found in who you were or why you hurt so many people. The one thing we did find was the hundreds of empty pill bottles with the labels peeled off of them. I knew they were pain pills because you had been taking them for years with alcohol. However, THAT was not the reason you were the way you were. You were cruel and heartless years before you had your accident and took those pills. They were only part of the problem.
I would like to be able to say that I recovered from you all these years later and in some ways I have. I am a better parent than you. Not a day goes by that my children don't know I love them. I have overcome a bad marriage, cancer and my sweet, beautiful boy having autism and epilepsy. You would have never known your grandchildren had you lived. While I was unable to sever the ties to you because I was always hoping and always searching for the father I so desperately wanted, when I had my first child, I felt so fiercly the desire to spare them an ounce of pain and that would mean keeping them away from you.
I am finally ready to stop figuring out the why and what if of our relationship. I am going to start thinking about how you never deserved me and James.
So a new beginning will start. One to which you are not invited to be a part of. I am going to give you up and let you go. You are not allowed to be in my thoughts, to be a part of my relationships or to ever be in my life again.