Shaking my head literally brought me out of the daydream back to awful moments when I was 10 or 12. I started the text with the major changes in my life since we last saw each other. After finishing my intro, I asked bluntly, “Is he dead? We heard he died in his sleep if so, I am so sorry.” She responded just as I thought with piss and vinegar mixed with religious righteousness with a taste of bow down and never be worthy. “You’re a failure, you lost everything we deemed important and lastly you went against the family with your selfish bullshit. You could care less if your decision takes food out of other’s mouths, you must be right all the time. But you keep on failing then you can’t see what we told you all this time.” She repeated herself twice then I remembered my original plan. I cut off the berating, so she could finally know, it doesn’t matter who said or did what. “Did he die, is the only question?” She went into panic mode telling me, “You’re not getting anything! Don’t you come down to Tennessee, you will be arrested immediately! Your son is a liar and your aunt has been dead for a while, so I don’t know what to tell you.” Before she went deeper into how great my brother has been his entire life and how being a female was a disadvantage. I interrupted her thought, “For all I know, you could’ve contacted him so let me say this if he is alive so be it. But if he is dead, I have asked God to bless his soul and you; he was your husband since you were 19.” Sounds cold but we have to stay on point at all times or we will be in Neverland for real. (Bear with me, I’m trying to get you to understand the constant battle.) She started typing more religious fear, changing topics and time periods to guilt me all the way to my Aunt Catrina’s issues with my grandmother (who has been dead since I was 9). “Your aunt didn’t honor her mother and you see where it got her!” One thing didn’t have anything to do with the other, in fact, she avoided the question altogether. It was time for another drink, I had to remind myself this drama was necessary to find out if my father was breathing.
In fact, let me move inside because any sane person would need more than a sip to get through this shit. I answered after settling, “Fire and brimstone? That was expected but it doesn’t matter what happens at this point. We weren’t speaking before today, but the truth is he did some good during his life and I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for him. (That is the honest to God’s truth). I don’t have to be at the funeral, I just want to be informed. Don’t you find it funny that we are at death’s doorstep and we can’t stop arguing long enough to answer one necessary question?” Her answer still is unbelievable, blaming me for all the wrongs toward her since the beginning. “You won’t see a dime, everything will be left to your brother.” She wanted to play the bait game, so I let her vent again realizing she was hurting and it would be wrong to belittle her pain. I had to end her long rant when she claimed I was being scandalous by wanting whatever Francis left, “From the moment I was able to legally take care of myself, not once did I ever ask you for anything.” But after I sent it, the fact of my mother needing comfort because her life partner for more than 45 years was no more was staring at me. I understand how it is to escape the prison of a toxic relationship after years of fighting, trying to protect your kids and the conditioning that must happen to be safe until something like this happens. She will need someone who she can bear her true soul to and not have to fake anything. The best gift I can think of is compassion and honesty. I just wished her the best and let it go.
December rolls around and unfortunately, the man who treated me like a daughter but I was his niece, died. When my cousin Jaye’s beautiful face showed in my phone it had to be for one of two reasons; she’s off and wants twin vibe time or we need to hear each other’s voice to be sure we were fine. (Let me go back a moment. Jaye taught me to walk when we were babies, so that connection was something needed in our family’s constant dramatic and deceitful world.) “I called to tell you Uncle George died, he had cancer.” She knew how I felt about him through her experiences with our uncle were different. She respected my loss knowing how difficult this grieving would be since her mother Catrina died earlier in the year. (Jaye couldn’t speak to her mother for the same reasons I’m writing this story.) This was the life-changing mourning we all face as adults when we lose a parent. We finally realize time is short and life is precious. Priorities shift from complicated to simple, superficial all the way through being okay with the positives in life. My Uncle George meant a lot to me, he was at every occasion important to me except my Navy graduation. He gave me my first roses, helped with my math, was there to yell and still love me. He showed me what it meant to have and be a father figure. Did he do wrong in his lifetime, yes? Were the effects of his actions devastating, I’m sure there were times he wished he could do things differently. Even when I was wrong, he respected my opinion so now it’s easy to understand his accepting quiet ways as I age. His death hurt worse than my own father’s though I tried to hide becoming more withdrawn. It became painfully clear that life was short and had to be lived truthful or I was living a lie. That’s when walking on eggshells for everyone’s happiness except my own became too much to continue.
TO BE CONTINUED
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