Friday, November 14, 2008

The Big C

Ok, let me just preface this post with a warning:

Information presented will appear to be heavy stuff. To better people than me, it is.

So here goes:

I am one of five of my father's kids. The first three -- all boys -- came from his first marriage. The Pink Power Ranger and I are from the second. He left the first wife. My mom left him.

He wasn't man enough to leave the house when his wife wanted him to, so she left with two kids and no college degree. She has since conquered the world. He lives in an apartment over a coffee shop in the Central West End of St. Louis.

Every time he appeared in our lives, it was a venonomous, vicious emotional experience. And forget child support. He was too busy taking cruises, remodeling the house and dating women who had a creepy resemblance to my mother.

There's more (e.g., stealing our savings accounts, leaving weird p*rn where it could be easily found, getting fired from jobs for harrassing women and stealing), but it's probably nothing original. You get the idea.

At 17, I dropped him out of my life. No big emotional explosion, I just stopped making calls and disappeared. I left town for college and went on to Chicago after that. If I saw him at a family gathering, I stayed the hell away from him. I occasionally cross paths with him at my grandmother's nursing home. That kind of thing. He's smart enough to make polite conversation and stop at that.

My birth certificate shows a female version of his name as my middle name. I changed my middle name when I changed my last name. And my children have absolutely no idea who he is.

PPR has remained close to him. She's fully aware of what and who he is, but has made that decision. I'll never understand it, but we've agreed to disagree and leave it at that.

The brother to whom I am closest has about the same kind of relationship with our father as I do. He caused too many problems with the sister-in-law. Big Bro finally told him that he'd wrecked two of his own marriages, but he wasn't wrecking this one.

The other two maintain friendly relations. Close? I don't know. None of my business. Call it our very own "don't-ask-don't-tell" policy.

But the important thing is that everyone has respected my stance and my decision. They have never, ever questioned it.

Ok, so what the hell, Val?

He's dying of cancer and has one year to live.

PPR is very emotionally involved in this, so my concern is for her. I've encouraged her to get in touch with both of our SIL's, both of whom have dealt with this with their mothers. I've also told her that I'll do whatever she needs me to do.

So here's the question: Am I supposed to do something? I honestly don't feel motivated. I mourned him a long time ago and have been a healthier, happier person without him. I don't feel an obligation to him due to a biological connection. I figure that he blew it. And blew it. And blew it again. And seriously, he's not a normal person.

I talked with U-Dad about this. He said that if I wanted to write some kind of letter assuring him that I was fine, that my life was good and the future looked bright for me and my children, that I'm no longer angry, etc, that that might be fine if I wanted to do some human kindness to a person in his situation. U-Dad agrees with me that he's a stranger at this point, so a Lifetime Channel movie ending is ridiculous.

PPR says that he has a great many regrets in his life, and that I'm one of them.

Being aware that we're talking about a permanent change in our circumstances here, I've removed him from the "block" list on my Yahoo account. I figure that if he wants to reach out, that he's the one on the clock.

Several of you are regular readers with your own pasts and circumstances. And I get to take advantage of being "cyber-friends" while still maintaining anonymity. So if you have an opinion, feel free to share in that poll thing over there. You can choose more than one answer, if you like.

In the meantime, I need to put a little one down for a nap and cajole the older one to practice her piano sometime before her lesson today.

Neither are happy about it!


Tonia said...

First off, (((hugs)))) to you and your sister and your other siblings for having to face this.

I was adopted when I was seven but have since met both my biological parents (when I was in college). I've even stayed for six weeks with my biological mother. I've been through a few similar things with them as you've listed. FWIW, I have no contact with either one of them (by my choice).

All that to say, I think the ball is in his court. If you want to reach out to him, by all means, go right ahead. But I wouldn't feel obligated to if you have no desire to renew that relationship.

The only thing I will say is this - if you haven't already it is very important for you to forgive him. NOT for him but for yourself. Bitterness only eats up a person inside. Forgiveness is a cleansing, healing, continual thing.

So, I'm sending you a hug and some prayers as you face this decision.

Tiffany (aka T, Tiffers, Tiffster, and Pally) said...

Hi Val,
Wow, that's a real doozy.
First, sorry you and the family have to endure this. It must be so hard on so many levels.
I think you're the only one who really knows your heart and the pain you've been through. So ultimately I'd say to give yourself some quiet time and think and see how you feel. Then follow your gut.
Solely from what I read, I think you should go see him one more time--while he's still cognizant of what's going on. This doesn't mean you're going to have a relationship, just reach closure. He may need/want your forgiveness. He may have wanted it for some time but maybe it took this to motivate him.
I agree with Tonia, you should try to forgive for both of your sakes. That doesn't mean you're denying the pain and the awful things he did. I think most of us would like to leave this journey with the loose ends tied up (assuming we're lucky enough to have the time to do so).
I really do think that you may benefit from one last goodbye.
Good luck dear cyber friend!
Our best wishes are with you, PPR and the whole brood.

Michele said...

I just found your post today. I'm sorry you are going through this.
I am kind of in the same situation (although not with cancer). I haven't spoken to my dad in about ten years. He has never met my husband or met my kids. My sister stayed in contact with him, but he burned that bridge not to long ago.
My dad is and always has been an alcoholic. I chose to cut him out of my life and I have to say, I haven't missed him.
Basically, he is drinking himself to death and only has about a year or two left. His organs are shutting down.
I had to decide if I wanted to see him one last time.
I decided against it. I have to do what is going to help me stay happy/healthy and strong. I don't believe any good feelings will come from my visiting him. He made his decisions to get to this point in our (non) relationship. I feel okay with this decision.
I hope my story can help you in this difficult time.

Karen said...

As long as you are okay with it then his having cancer shouldn't change it. The last time I talked to my dad (when I took my youngest to see him 3 1/2 years ago), as I left I told him that the roads run in both directions and phones work both ways and if he decides he wants a relationship with me then he can call. I haven't heard from him since. My brother told me my dad was mad at me when he went in for some terrible surgery that everybody else went home to visit him for, but I didn't feel bad about it at all because he didn't call me. I am years past the guilt and the drama and all that. I have an answer for my kids when they ask why I don't take them to see their grandpa. I don't feel guilty about that.

Make sure you won't have any regrets. Talk to your husband. Think about how you will talk to your kids about it. Think about if you would go to his funeral.

But if he had been hit by bus a on the way to the doctors office would it have been any different?

Keep toxic people out of your life and away from your kids. Help the PPR all that you can without opening up that door again.


Darcy @ LWM3B said...

Shoot me an email! ;)


june cleaver said...

Hmmm... amazing how similar your life sounds to my husbands. Terrible childhood. Every once in a while his dad will try and make an apearance in our lives and there are hurt feelings and stress involved with it all. His brother does not talk to him either, but their sister does-do not understand that. Her choice, much like PPR.
Anyway, my husband started to feel guilty when his father was down and out and no longer healthy that he should make more of an effort.
He went to a very good friend who is also a priest for advice. The Deuster (that is what we call our friend) said to my husband:
You cannot grand someone forgiveness until they ask for it.
Meaning... you can forgive him and go on with your life secure in the knowledge that you have done everything on your part to keep healthy and your family safe (because this is what this is all about right? You little kiddos and their safety)
But until he asks you for forgiveness, whatever angst in your relationship is on him and him alone.
You have to ask yourself one question... how will you feel when he is dead. If life will keep going on without any real bumps, then I say you are doing the right thing, if for some reason you think you will regret not talking to him, then you have to weigh that factor in as well.
My husband decided to not reach out. He does not regret this as his main priority are his children and their safety-even if it is just keeping them from a person that has hurt you.
I look at it this way... if he weren't your dad would he be a person you would like to know? A person you would give a last chance to? If he weren't your dad would you help him out because you are a compassionate person? The answers to those questions may help you determine the path you are to take.

I am sure this did not help at all... but know that I think you are great and I admire your strength.

Laura said...

I keep thinking about this.
Usually, I might say that I would absolutely HAVE to see him.
But, betrayal is a hard thing to rise above.
Only you know what you can live with.
This is complicated.