“Say Something”: For My Father

I wrote this last year and after having it in Private mode for a while I just went through and read it again and made it Public. I edited this one very little. It is something that still breaks my heart to think about and probably always will.

Sleeping Tiger

I have a third of my father’s ashes from his cremation.

I wasn’t really all that sure about cremation.  And unfortunately my father never talked about what he wanted, nor did he put it in writing anywhere.

So the three toxic musketeers were left to decide on their own. (That would be my siblings and me.)

If I’m remembering correctly, it was my brother who introduced cremation because he couldn’t bear to think of my father’s body underground, considering the decay that takes place. He was really sensitive about that.  And my sister, I’d bet my small inheritance, liked the idea because it was cheaper than a traditional burial. I’m convinced she was worried about making sure there was something left to inherit.

I was on the fence but didn’t have much say. Even though I mentioned that I wasn’t sure about cremation. it was two to three by the…

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“Say Something”: For My Father

I have a third of my father’s ashes from his cremation.

I wasn’t really all that sure about cremation.  And unfortunately my father never talked about what he wanted, nor did he put it in writing anywhere.

So the three toxic musketeers were left to decide on their own. (That would be my siblings and me.)

If I’m remembering correctly, it was my brother who introduced cremation because he couldn’t bear to think of my father’s body underground, considering the decay that takes place. He was really sensitive about that.  And my sister, I’d bet my small inheritance, liked the idea because it was cheaper than a traditional burial. I’m convinced she was worried about making sure there was something left to inherit.

I was on the fence but didn’t have much say. Even though I mentioned that I wasn’t sure about cremation, it was two to one by the time I even knew it was a discussion. So there wasn’t  much time to make a decision. It was brought up (the first time for me) at the table with the funeral director, so it doubled my discomfort of attempting to argue any alternate case. I was already feeling beaten down by my siblings and the man whose body we were there to discuss.

My narcissist sister’s razor sharp tongue was something I feared as well as the possibility of some physical altercation. At this point, the fear of physical altercations, particularly in front of a third party, was an irrational one. But then again, I was not in rational mode. My father had just died. And my siblings had bullied the fuck out of me throughout the weeks leading up to this day.

It was obvious my sister wanted to rush everything.

She also wanted to have the memorial on a Friday. I wanted it on a Saturday. She said she “wanted to get it over with and be done with it.”

Yeah! She fucking really said that.

My brother seemed to stay neutral on that point.

Back at my father’s apartment, I found his address book and called a couple of the numbers I found. Both numbers belonged to long time friends of my father.  I knew they would want to know about my father’s death and when the service would be.

Neither could make it on a Friday on such short notice.

Of course the less people who can make it, the cheaper it is and less money is spent at the wake. Just a theory of course. She never said that, but she is a smart little narcissist and knows when to keep her mouth shut.

Then there was her issue with my cousins, who came to the service but didn’t stay for the wake. But instead of asking our cousins why they didn’t stick around, my sister talked to me a day or two later, all about how fucked up they all were for leaving so soon…behind their backs.  And she was seething.

I told her I’d known our one cousin had to work. (He’s a police officer.) I had actually texted a bit back and forth with him after the service. I told him that I was sorry they didn’t hang out. He texted back that he’d had to get back and go to work.

For fuck’s sake, after all it was all last minute and on a damn Friday!  But she wants everything her way. No matter what. No one else should say no to her EVER.

And when I told her Matt had to work, she said with a sneer, “Yeah well they didn’t ALL have to work.”
I don’t think I said anything after that, I just shrugged my shoulders. I shrugged my shoulders because I had no argument.I didn’t know what any of them had to do. And neither did she. She just jumped to a conclusion and got pissed off.

But later I thought about it again and speculated that perhaps none of the other cousins knew how to get home. And they felt the need to follow or go back with their brother.

We always lived in separate counties, at least a half hour away from each other and at this point in our lives, I believe it’s even farther away, although we are all still in our respective counties.  They don’t know their way around here and perhaps they were concerned about getting lost.

My one cousin, the one who had to get back for work,  perhaps was more confident and more familiar with the area being a police officer and had been down this way for work in the past.

Truth is I don’t know either. But I didn’t get all sneery, pissy, jump to conclusions and talk shit behind their backs.

Maybe they simply didn’t want to go to the wake. That could be true for my cop cousin as well and he didn’t want to say that.  Just because we went to both of their parents’ wakes doesn’t mean they owe it to us to go to ours. Besides our aunt’s and uncle’s services were held on Saturdays.

If my sister was hurt, she certainly has a right to that feeling. I don’t begrudge anyone their emotions. But instead of talking behind their backs and judging them, how about asking them about it.

This is not really the direction I wanted to take this right now. But I have a tendency to have something in mind to write but then it all goes down a different path, so there it is. I feel like my father’s life and his death were both tainted with so much hate, anger and toxic narcissism.

When I got the ashes from my sister, I felt obligated to take them even though I didn’t want them. I still have them in a short, ceramic vase type thing I actually got from his apartment after he died.

I’ve been thinking, ever since, what I could do with the ashes, that would be respectful. There’s no where that I’m aware of that he’d want them to be spread, so I’m left with figuring it out for myself. I can think of one place, where he took me as a small child, so that’s a possible option.

But there’s another place that I feel like my psyche sees as the next best thing to a burial. The plot where his parents and two favorite aunts are buried is close by and I don’t think either of my siblings are aware of it. So I don’t have to worry about running into them.

I thought about doing it before moving because I lived so close but I didn’t do it because it was so hot all summer.  Now is a good time of year but I’m not feeling all that ready yet.

I just started doing inner child/codependency work and I have been thinking that I need to wait a bit before I take his ashes somewhere. I see the act of releasing his ashes as a way of letting go of all the past hurts and pain but I have some work to do before I’m capable of doing that.  I think I’ll know when it’s the right time.

When I do it though, I want to include the lyrics to a song that reminds me of him and our relationship, especially at the end of his life. It also reminds me of the dynamic of the whole family.

Please note: I understand this is a song from one romantic partner to another. And not so much a father/daughter relationship. But I think I was always chasing my father’s love even though he claimed he was “always trying to get me to forgive him.”

Edit Tuesday 9/26/17: OH GOD! That quote! My mother wrote that in a birthday card to me. Passing the responsibility over to me to forgive her. Just as my father had done in an email while he was still alive.

I felt as though he didn’t get it. And that our relationship was not important enough to him, even at the end of his life, to discuss the elephant in the room. And my family was just as guilty of that.

One day at the end of his life, my father and I were at his dining room table, just after he’d eaten dinner. Quietly he said out of nowhere, “I thought there’d be reconciliation.”

I said, hopefully and apprehensively, “With who?”

He then just shook his head a little and said, “Oh, no one.”

He could have meant at least a couple of people that I’m aware of but I was disappointed he didn’t elaborate.

Say Something by Christina Aguillera
Say something, I’m giving up on you
I’ll be the one if you want me to

Anywhere I would’ve followed you
Say something, I’m giving up on youAnd I… am feeling so small
It was over my head
I know nothing at all
And I… will stumble and fall
I’m still learning to love
Just starting to crawl
Say something, I’m giving up on you
I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you
Anywhere I would’ve followed you
Say something, I’m giving up on you
And I… will swallow my pride
You’re the one that I love
And I’m saying goodbyeSay something, I’m giving up on you
And I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you
And anywhere I would’ve followed you (Oh-Ooh)
Say something, I’m giving up on youSay something, I’m giving up on you
Say something…

Just reading those lyrics I can feel the entire inside of my chest, especially my heart, tightening up. I loved him, I hated him. I wanted to love him and we related at times. But many of his actions showed me he didn’t feel love and that he was more concerned about himself and controlling things than nurturing his children. I still have not appropriately grieved his loss because I have not been sure and still am not sure what I lost when he died, except any chances of making true amends.  My father broke my heart.

 

Glare and Daggers

woman shooting daggers

Gif from giphy dot com. Don’t go there if you are prone to seizures.

The piercing daggers I felt as my sister glared at me were painful and intimidating.

Despite knowing by then how much she loathed me, a part of me still longed for the resolution I knew would never happen.

I’d been bringing my father smoothies on a pretty regular basis, making a last ditch effort to turn his health around, even though the prognosis was dim. But at the time I had not really known how serious things really were.

I now know that I was not getting clear information from my siblings, who in turn may not have been getting clear information from the doctor either. But they accompanied my father to the doctor so they knew more than I did first hand. Now that I think back on it, I have a feeling I was being alienated.

But then I don’t know since I didn’t go to the doctor appointments. I suppose I could have, but in all honesty I didn’t want to be in such a trapped situation such as a car, with my siblings. And it was difficult enough for me to be in the situation as it was.

My father had already been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was understood the prognosis wasn’t good, but there were no definitive answers. At least as far as I knew. As far as my father seemed to know. I wonder how much the doctor wasn’t sharing with my father. I wonder how informed my siblings were compared to my father.

I started to bring him smoothies because he was having some digestive problems and diarrhea. I simply offered them and he gratefully accepted the jars I brought him, filled with what looked like milkshakes and Mistos, (check out Rita’s Water Ice to see what that is) made with fruits and greens.

I had a feeling that my sister wouldn’t respond favorably to my efforts of helping my father, in the form of green smoothies. So when she came by for a quick visit to ask my father how his appetite was, I cringed inside and waited for her reaction in judgment to ensue.

“Not too bad, your sister brought me a smoothie this afternoon,” my father responded.

From the far end of the dining room table, I glanced over the screen of my laptop, I felt the desire for approval, once she knew, while at the same time the impulse to defend myself. I said, “I thought it would help his digestion.”

Like a jealous and narcissistic co-parent, she spun around on her scrawny ass, where she’d been sitting on the coffee table, to shoot me a glare of daggers and said with a cold and bitter tone, “Or go right through him.”  I could hear the sneer that was not quite visible on her face.

I felt so defeated, not to mention hurt yet again. Like I couldn’t ‘win’ with her. As long as I fulfilled her need of “babysitter,” she seemed to feel this right and maybe even a duty to crush and control me every opportunity she saw.

It seemed to be in that moment, that in her twisted little mind, that I was supposed to simply show up and prepare for him whatever was status quo.  How dare I go off the conventional track. After all, food had nothing to do with his illness.*

At the time along with feeling defeated, I also was angry while being afraid at the same time. My sister can rage as well as say some cutting things and bring up other apparent unresolved issues she tends to hold onto, fighting dirty, using them against me when the timing seems just right to her.

And me, at that moment, with her, physically in my vicinity, feeling she was presenting a physical threat to me just by her presence and attitude, I wanted to just keep the peace. At that point, I was just biding my time, already knowing I was going to sever ties with this nasty troll, once I’d gotten through all of this.

So I took the figurative punches while telling myself, “Just a little longer.”
Of course not knowing really how much longer.

I wanted to stick up for myself so badly despite that fear. I wanted her to know that she was being a nasty little bitch for no reason.That her behavior was abusive and she had become, along with our brother, a horrible bully toward me.

I wanted to know why she felt the need, to put down my effort to help, in such a mean way, instead of discussing it with me respectfully if she disagreed with it being a healthy alternative.

I knew why she wouldn’t discuss it. Besides the eggshells that surround(ed) the entire family, she was jealous of my ability to think outside the box, while at the same time feeling superior and that my ideas were stupid and ridiculous.

But for me to stick up for myself, I knew, she’d likely just roll her eyes while berating me for being too sensitive after which she’d walk away feeling triumphant and I’d feel frustrated for not being able to get a word in or not know what to say until the whole thing was over.

I’m sure she knew I wouldn’t ‘rock the boat’ in such a scenario, as to stress out my dying father. She’d already put that anchor in place during a previous conversation about “this not being about her or me. It’s about dad and only dad since he’s the one whose ill.”

And although the probability of her raging while in my father’s apartment was low to non-existent,  I still worried a little about it because I knew her capability of holding on to something until she could release it on me, which could possibly manifest itself in an explosion.

I’d been on the receiving end of that a few times. Once in person. But I’d said something passive aggressive and I really don’t blame her for that too much. A lot of tension had accumulated between us and we hadn’t had any knowledge of how to deal with it because our parents hadn’t taught us how to talk through our frustrations with each other.

But luckily in the more recent incidents where she flew off the handle (after what I was saying was not passive aggressive, but attempting to resolve some issues between us) took place on the phone and I was able to simply hang up.

In person, I felt I ran the risk of her impulse control failing. So I kept my mouth shut.

More stuffed anger on my end.

I think I’m going to have to write one of those letters I’ll never send to each family member, expressing my feelings.

As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that might help me in a big way.

 

 

*projection. I can’t possibly know what she was actually thinking. I was going by things she’d said in the past, issues we’d had that I’d tried to discuss, etc.