First of all, this story is not intended to denigrate or berate anyone, least of all, any of my family members. It is also not intended to elicit any sympathy for what I have been through. It is a way for me to ‘put on paper’ an intention to understand the mechanisms in my life that have molded my personality and to somehow address the issues I have in my life that I know are rooted in my past. To straighten my room and dump my baggage. Most of all, I want to make amends with people in my past, if I can, and more importantly, become a better man and husband.
This is my final entry concerning family issues. This is the end of my whining, it is also the last of my baggage. It has taken a full year and 12 days to sort this out. There’s just no more. Man, I am so thankful. I will relate that I know I have become a better person through writing these accounts without fear of retribution from anyone. If there is anyone who has a beef with me over these accounts, or otherwise, grow a pair and approach me. I am more willing to listen than you probably are to talk.
If you have been following any part of my blog or blog entries, you know how disappointed I have become with, at least, my father and other family members over the years. Well, I think with this entry it comes to an end. I have beat this horse month after month, year after year in my pre-writing year, and am ready to bring it to a final disposition.
My attempts to connect with my father have fallen on deaf ears, all around. Never ever expect something in return for doing something for someone in need. You may receive some sort of reward, but never expect that those you help will recognize what you do. Just expect them to be helped.
At one time, I thought I could turn to people I know, expecting that maybe they would help me somehow with trying to re-connect with my father. Actually, I have never ‘connected’ with him at all, but I thought I would see something I had always hoped for. That maybe he would understand that his oldest son just wanted answers to old issues and questions. That maybe he would realize that he had somehow seen things in the wrong light. It was never to be. Two people in my family who have direct access to my father just weren’t going to help. No matter how many clues I dropped, either they didn’t get them or absolutely refused to help. It was a bit disappointing, heartbreaking, eye-opening. To ask them for help outright would have resulted in them speaking to him to ridicule me. I know how they are. I hate to say it, but I now know who I can trust, and who to just take at face value. In my life, I have always wanted a deep connection to my parents. I never got it. My mother passed on in 2001. Just two days before I met my wife. Now my father has moved himself as far away as he can possibly be emotionally and as a loving family member. He is in ill-health, constantly living in a state of remission from at least two types of cancer, or cancer in two parts of his body. I don’t know the facts, and probably never will. At least not while he is alive.
I just don’t know where to turn any more.
Through my years approaching my teens to around 17 years old, I took care of my two younger brothers. I mean I raised them. I fed them, put them to bed, got them prepared for school daily, stuck by them like a little father. My mother wasn’t a college educated woman, although she did take a few classes in shorthand dictation (I don’t know what the classes are called) and secretarial work, she never ever had an exceptionally well-paying job to support her children after the divorce in the early 1960s. I know she wanted to do something good for herself, for her well-being, her inner peace. She wanted to be better than what she found around her that she was bound by. She couldn’t remain at home taking care of us three boys and make the move to a better life, both at the same time. It was physically impossible. One can not be in two places at the same time.
She needed someone to be there for her. She hired ‘babysitters’ again and again, but they weren’t as dedicated as they thought they could be. Us boys weren’t hell to take care of, but kids don’t take care of kids. Oh wait, I did. I was a kid and eventually, my mother chose to put me in that place. “Take care of the boys.” I did. For many years. Clear into Jr. High School and High School. I left for Seattle for my senior year. Met opposition and oppression from my father. He was hell to be around. Spent a year there and couldn’t leave soon enough.
One time years ago and years after all of that childhood, awful childhood, was over, my mother sat me down alone with her. She told me she was so thankful that I was there when I was. Of course, at the time ‘I was there’ I saw it as what a kid would do. I didn’t know there were things kids did other than taking care of their brothers. The ultimate freedom while living at home, dating, never was a part of the plan.
She told me of the anguish she went through just trying to put food in us, clothes on us, doors we could walk through with a roof above it, comfortable beds. Life was tough, but I didn’t know any better. Through my life, living conditions always got better as I grew. I never had a new precedent that was worse than the previous. Even today, I live in a beautiful house, have a loving and wonderful spiritual wife, I run a business, I drive a nice car. Even though, at the age of 60, I should have these things by now, I still appreciate them more than most people might, maybe not. I have stretched to make it to the next rung on the ladder my entire life. Many do, I consider myself no better or worse than any one else, but I respect and cherish all that I have and own, as well as all that is not tangible to me or anyone.
My mother told me of the struggles she went through with my father. The denial when he was ‘messing around’ with women behind her back. The lying he did to avoid owning up to it. The domestic violence she endured. The ridicule in front of her friends and his friends when they were in public. There is much more that I just don’t care to, or want to, include here.
During that hour or so when she poured her heart out to me, I never felt closer to her. We both cried. I knew a lot of what she went through, but there were some things I just never knew about. She once had a miscarriage, between my younger and youngest brothers, Kevin and Kary (respectively,) that I didn’t know about until that discussion. My heart broke for her, and I still hurt for her even though she has been gone 12 years now. She never got what she should have gotten from life for the pain she endured.
Well, why am I writing this final familial entry?
Through my life, there have been family members who came to me and were lifesavers. Those that were there when I was drowning without a boat on the horizon or anyway to stay afloat. No raft, just left alone.
Gammy, Fritz, Aunt Barbara, my Cousin RaeAnne, a friend of my grandmother’s whom I called Uncle Floyd even though he wasn’t, Aunt Effie, Gramma GeeGee, Uncle Kenny and Aunt Lois, Aunt LuAnne and Uncle Loren, Aunt Betty and Uncle Phil. Those whom I have left out weren’t forgotten, they just didn’t make the cut. Don’t mistake my intention by assuming that I don’t love my family and care about them, it’s just that those I’ve mentioned actually stepped up without being asked and helped me along. When I was very young, I was a vulnerable boy. Always being shuffled around to family members, never really able to become grounded. Naive, “Oh look, a shiny thing” type of kid. Not until I was old enough to leave home did my real education start. The school of Hard Knocks. That story has been told too many times.
All of these people did what they did in my life because they liked to help and saw a need that begged to be addressed. I like to help and I do help when I know I can help because that is what I like to do. Doing it rewards me. I always have helped, and will till the day I die, although, through the years, I have learned to discern who really needs it and who just doesn’t want to look responsible for getting themselves into a mess and not knowing how to straighten it and themselves out.
In my life, I have taken a few aside and given them all the wisdom I could muster at the time and then seen them again months, years later and been thanked for the words I gave away. My years at the Men’s Gospel Mission in Everett, WA. were some rewarding years.
If there is anything to gain from reading this, I want it to be that stepping in to help anyone struggling with issues is a strong and brave step to take without being asked. You may not have the tools or the wisdom, but you don’t know until you make the move. You may not even be accepted, but wanting to is that which builds character. If you succeed, you may save a life, if you fail, pay attention and you will learn. What I have learned is that regardless of whether people are family or friends, if they are damaging to you, or just refuse to offer you what you can not obtain spiritually, they can’t be allowed to make you feel guilty or make you feel that you owe them, or that you aren’t worth the trouble because they are family. They are just people in the end when they are stripped of everything else, just as I am. Regardless of the good times you had as youngsters, if those people are harmful, you need to let them go. Don’t hate them, don’t condemn them, don’t judge them, just be wise. I have much fewer family members, than I have friends, that I would turn to in times of deep need. Some family have passed on, some are just unapproachable.
Whatever you do in life, help when you can, not just when you’re asked to. Someone will be appreciative and you will be someone who that person never forgets. If you are refused, you are not the one who loses. Regardless, by wanting to help, you have your reward.
Thanks for reading, and if you have read my other scribblings, thanks and I hope I inspired something medicinal in you. We all need healing in some form or degree or another.