My father died of a massive heart attack last year.
Growing up, my father was never around. I was the only child for the first five years of my life and I still have little recollection of him being around when I was four and five. Even after my brother was born, he stayed away, leaving us to my drunken mother’s care.
It seems that he stayed away on purpose, like he’d find ways or excuses to be away from us. He did this later on with my stepmother and their children, as well, so there was certainly an established pattern.
He worked as much as he smoked and he smoked like an old train. Despite this, he was still rather athletic and taught martial arts classes. He did this, in my opinion, in an effort to feed his obvious narcissism (through the exercise of physical control over his students) and also to meet women. Two birds, one stone.
He never taught me anything just for the sake of teaching me. He would only instruct me on how to do things when it would benefit him. For example, he showed me how to operate the farm equipment to cut, rake, and bale hay so he wouldn’t have to do it. Certain things, like his lawn, though, he adamantly would not let me do because “I would screw it up.” In part I guess I have him to thank for essentially forcing me to become an autodidact. If no one was willing to teach me, I would teach myself.
Despite my parent’s average heights, I grew to be 6’3″ tall. I always felt he sort of resented me for it, as if he had somehow lost physical control over me due to my being 6 inches taller than he. However he found a way to use my intimidating size and stature to his advantage, often threatening others with siccing me on them if necessary.
Anyway, I joined the Marine Corps and stayed away from my father for about 7 years. I came back home to visit as much as I could and remember his lack of excitement when he saw his first grand child for the first time. It was telling.
By the time I got out of the Marines, I had matured and was better able to read people. Combined with his past behavior and his now overtly narcissistic behavior, I grew more and more suspicious of him and his motives. Despite this lingering suspicion, I tried to develop a relationship with him, especially after he retired due to health reasons. He actually had time for me that he seemingly didn’t want to have when I was a boy.
However, my father betrayed me two years ago. He did something that I will not discuss here for personal reasons. Suffice it to say that it was enough for me to break contact with him and the rest of my family forever.
A year later he died of a heart attack while riding in the car with my stepmother. He was in his mid-fifties. I’d not seen nor spoken a word to him for a year and he died with no one but my moronic stepmother by his side.
My cousin called me to break the news. The only response I had for her when she told me he’d died was “Good.”
I told my wife that night and she asked me how I felt. I said I felt how I had always felt about him… empty.
The more I thought about him, our lack of any relationship whatsoever, and his betrayal, though, the more that emptiness morphed into sheer rage and anger at what he had done. The fact that he could just die and get away with what he did is maddening. If there is any justice in the afterlife, I hope he gets what he deserves.
Despite my reluctance, I attended his funeral. I even made a speech filled with generalities and niceties common at any funeral. It was the first time I cried since I can remember. But I wasn’t crying because I was sad for him or because I was mourning his loss. Crying was simply the only way I could express my anger and disgust for him at the time. It took every ounce of self control not to use that podium to reveal to everyone what he had done. I wanted him alive so he would still have to live with the pain of losing his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren for the rest of his miserable days.
Love you, dad. But forgiveness is just not in my nature. After all, you helped create me.