“Are you gonna miss me, Danpaw?” That’s what our 4 yr old asked of my father the other day as he hastily packed his bags.
He’d come to us as such a surprise in May 2015. We didn’t realize he was on his way up here until the day prior. It was all quite the whirlwind and nobody was ready. A lot of things sort of came to a head at once including my daughters return home to us. But last Monday, Brian urged me to get online to purchase Dad’s train ticket and as I did so, Dad began to pack.
I didn’t know Dad that well, truth be told. My parents divorced when I was 7 years old with my Mom moving us up from California to Washington State. My Dad sees this as me “choosing” mom and up here over him by the way. Anyway, the times I got with him were a few weeks every summer and the occasional Christmas. It just wasn’t enough time to really know anyone and once I hit those teen years I quit going all together, sadly. Stupid teenage years!
I saw him maybe 3 times since, the last time being about 14 years ago. Did he ever come up here to see me you may ask? No. He didn’t. He’ll tell you he did and that I refused to see him but that is an outright lie or he otherwise remembers it wrong. He had called and said he was up here (yes, I was surprised because I had no idea he was coming), I offered to pick him up and his response was, “I don’t want to interfere…” You see, he was really up here for gun shows and his friend, Cory. At any rate, it was the only time to my knowledge that he’d been up here and he ended up leaving without seeing me or his granddaughters who were then 1 and 3 yrs of age.
Through the years, we’d kept in touch by phone or letter best we could. He’d gone through a lot, I’d gone through a lot. The past few years were the roughest because for him, he was staying at my grandmothers now delapitated home. It was once a cute little home but as the years went on and Dad’s depression took over, it had little to no upkeep. There wasn’t anything I could do to get him out of there and by this time, a woman named Shirley was involved. I suspected he had beginning stages of dementia or alzheimers but never could get a straight answer out of him for sure.
I blame myself for not having better patience with him. He’s 73 for pete’s sake. But I just couldn’t muster the patience. We had a lot of good times these past 9 months but also some disagreements. He truly felt it was ok to make remarks to me that were hurtful in nature or to criticize me while glorifying Brian. He was extremely disrespectful to me in front of my children and I see this to be quite detrimental. I would defend myself and he couldn’t stand it. Also, our grandbaby was finally born and I think her coming home scared him. He wouldn’t even go see her at the hospital…his own great-granddaughter! The time he was here were tough at times, at times. He wouldn’t see a doctor for the obvious hernia’s he had or swollen legs. He really wouldn’t listen to us about anything but you know, we did enjoy that time for other reasons and my children got to know their grandfather. We laughed a lot together. We both enjoyed similar interests. Taking him to Goodwill was fun for me because it gave us that time with just “us” that I felt like we needed after so much time apart…but I guess I really ceased to matter to him years ago when he taught himself to live without me or when my grandmother passed away May of 1995.
He left on the train last Thursday morning with promise after promise of his return. The truth was, he had no plans to return. He sent me a text that he was back with Shirley at her place and “had to try” because she needed help. It’s sad. She kicked him out in the first place (according to him) and he spoke of her horribly while here…and yet this was his choice. Things went downhill from there. I think he was upset that I caught him in his lie. At this point, I have no plans to speak with him further as this is someone who I’d rather remember from my childhood…that man was sweet, kind hearted, hilarious and my daddy. I will miss that man until the day I die. The man who came up here…that was merely a dim reflection or perhaps I hadn’t had the chance to see him from that adult standpoint. His selfishness is one for the records…but I’d just rather remember how he was when I was a kid. I love you Daddy…I hope you’ll miss me, too. I’m sure going to miss you. I promise to get to LaGrange and Jamestown someday. Thank you for being my daddy.