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Saturday, June 26, 2004
My dad is dying, really dying. My younger brother had a distressing telephone call from my mother. That's what she said to him, "he's dying". She's never used those words before. She begged him to come back to "say goodbye".
My three half-siblings are all there. They're going to get to say "good bye". My younger brother and I are not there, and we're not going to be. We don't get to say shit.
I knew it last Sunday, on Father's Day quite ironically, that it was my last conversation with my dad. Calling it a conversation is being very generous and disingenuous, it lasted less than thirty seconds. He just kept telling me how much he was shaking.
He's having a horrible, long, drawn out death, something I wouldn't wish for anyone. I could talk about my guilt, my cowardice, my inflexibility or my reasons for not being there, but you've read it all before. Life doesn't ever work out the way you expect, yet we still foster our own warped expectations, time and time again. Expectations are for suckers.
My father was always a bit death obsessed, he expected to drop dead one day from a heart attack. He didn't. Instead, he had angioplasty a couple of times, and a quadruple bypass. If nature had its say, he would have been dead 15 years ago.
So the last 15 years were bonus extra time. He didn't count on my mother becoming so ill, no one did. Her illness was the reason he wanted to continue living and being strong and again, ironically, contributed to his illness. I'm sure if he didn't have to spend the last 2 years caring for her, he wouldn't be this sick now.
He refused to hire any help to care for my mother for the longest time. He insisted he do it himself. That was him saving money, but for what I don't know. He lasted about a year on his own, before it became too much for him and he hired a live-in health assistant. What good is the money he saved now?
My mother, my poor mother is the one who will suffer the most in all this. I imagine my half-siblings won't even let my dad's body go cold before they are packing her away to some hell-hole of a nursing home, stripping the house of valuables and selling it all off. I bet they can't wait.
My three half-siblings have won; my younger brother and I don't even exist anymore. That's what they always wanted and now they got it. I'm sure they're pleased we are not involved, thrilled even, though I bet they are hiding their glee with false criticism and outrage. I imagine they'd have lots to say if I gave them the chance, but I won't though. If they call, I'll hang right up on them.
I'm sure this is not totally the outcome they were expecting either, they must have anticipated more of a fight. I'm sure they were hoping to give us a piece of their limited minds as well. They can't have it both ways. Victory has to be taken on the terms offered, not on the terms you expect. They wanted desperately to be in charge, they wanted control of all of this. Be careful what you wish for, the saying goes, you might get it.
I'm sure they didn't expect to be "saddled" with their invalid stepmother. I wish they weren't, it's worse than I expected, but it's never really been in my hands. Expectations seem to be a theme today for me.
I can offer my mother no comfort, no solace, no help, nothing really. I can't be there for her, won't be there for her. This was all predetermined the moment I was conceived, but no one had the clear vision to see it, not even me. My family fell apart years ago really, but no one ever acknowledged the broken pieces. Now, they won't be able to hide from the wreckage. Funny, but it seems like I will.
My dad is dying and I can do nothing, my mother is helpless and I can do nothing. My grief is building, I can feel it rising like bile in the back of my throat. What solace will my brother and I have? All of this is theatre of the mind for us, we really can only imagine the misery.
I don't think any of us expected it to be like this, expectation is just another word for disappointment. As I sit here on this rainy Saturday afternoon in fabulous north London, a million miles away from my childhood, my family, my dying father and bed-ridden mother, I can't help thinking that none of us deserve any of this and that if there's a god, he's a motherfucking cunt.