Its crazy how time flies. Tomorrow marks 5 years since I lost my Daddy to cancer. I loved him so much...It’s been playing in my mind, not only losing him to death, but how we lost each other for so long prior to his illness, prior to Angela’s death.
Daddy and I were so close but until around 1993. He was always my hero! When I was little and we would make the 4.5 hour drive to the cabin he would tell me these tall “big buck” stories and of course the story of “Falling Rock” (you know the signs you see). They were crazy tall tales but I hung on his every word! He taught me every “Marine Corp” trick he had up his sleeve, like how to keep a boy from getting fresh by pushing inward on any of the tips of his fingers. He taught me to ride 4 wheeler, shoot, skin rabbits and deer, sharpen knives with a sharping stone…all the things a girl needs to know (actually I think he tried desperately to make me in to a boy for the longest time). We had so many wonderful times…far too many to mention. Then as things go…it all began to fall apart.
I remember the first time I heard of his affair. It was devastating…he was destroying Momma; he was destroying my family… Angela’s family…I was already divorced from my abusive, cheating, husband, and now Daddy. The entire situation was a horrible, painful…mess to say the least. Initially, it was difficult to not take sides…but I really did stay neutral for the most part. Daddy stayed in contact with Angie and I at first…but the calls and visits became less frequent, as the his new love moved in and they created their new life together.
Over time I grew to except the situation, so it wasn’t like I was bashing it or creating tension. I just wanted to keep my Daddy in our lives. I needed him, Angie needed him and yet… her kids became his new family. They got to go to the beach house all summer, they got to go to Disney World, and they were invited over for holidays. Daddy had to sneak around to visit me… usually at work. I couldn’t call after 5:00 and never on Friday’s when she wasn’t working. I couldn’t understand why there were so many rules when it came to our relationship. Bottom line…I had him first. She didn’t want us around…we were the connection to his old life. During this time he denied it, but that year and a half we spent together when he got sick there were a lot of things that finally came out about the whole sorted situation. Maybe he didn’t realize what was happening over those ten long years….maybe he did… maybe he began to believe I was the problem…and that she had no accountability. Perhaps that’s why when Momma would try and talk to him about it he would say it was my responsibility to maintain the relationship.
MY responsibility? Seriously? Wait a minute…he’s the one who stepped out of bounds. He’s the one that decided to change the entire family dynamic. He’s the one who moved, figuratively speaking and it became my responsibility to maintain what we had. Did I have some responsibility sure! But just because he had a new life, a new wife, didn’t make him exempt to being my Daddy and Grampy to Angie. I grew weary of hearing how victimized she was, how she wasn’t comfortable she was around us no matter how polite we were to her.
The night before Angela died was her birthday. We were all sitting around the table while she opened her gifts. She opened the card from Daddy and it in was $50.00 and a note signed Love you Lum Lum, Grampy…I remember her voice cracking as she said “I would have rather just gotten a phone call from him”. It had been a long, long time since he had even called her. The next day she was gone. A week later Daddy was at the University of Penn in critical condition from Leukemia. Every day I drove the new wife to Philly and back. When Daddy came home I refused to be denied access to him. I visited often but never was given time alone with him. Everything was her business…so unfair. Truth is NOT everything was her business. So, I started taking off work early to get there an hour or so before she got home just so I could be alone with him. We talked about everything, we healed… we reconnected…how I loved him. She still had control though…he loved when I called him Daddy…she hated it therefore he asked me not to call him that around her because it always started a fight. For him I would do whatever made things easier for him. Spending time with him again flooded my heart with so many memories and regret for our lost years. He too had the same reaction…sad isn’t it?
The day Daddy died I was never left alone with him for more than 2-3 minutes. Even though he knew he was dying it was not allowed to be mentioned. I never got the chance to say goodbye to him while he was still coherent. I remember every moment like it was yesterday, every painful moment. I prayed and gave thanks that we had that last year and a half together. God gave us that time together and I am forever grateful and blessed by it. I miss him terribly.
After the funeral, I was told I was the worst daughter ever. I was informed of how badly I hurt him and how she had to deal with all his pain…forever the victim I guess. I received not one of Daddy's that I requested because I didn’t deserve it. But no one can take away our time together or the truths I learned about the “goings on” behind closed doors. No one can take away the love.
Do I still sound bitter? Actually, sometimes I still am…but what I describe here isn’t coming from a bitter heart just the plain truth. Have I forgiven them…absolutely…have I forgiven her…yes I have…because I am commanded to forgive, because I don’t want to carry anger in my heart…because I refuse to play the role of victim.