I’m not sure if it was clear in my last post but I wanted to explain my absence.
On the 30th of November I got a call from my step-mother saying that my dad was sick again and that she would like for me to come and help her out because the kids were getting out of hand. I was “busy” of course. I didn’t want to be an enabler. I didn’t want to make it okay for him to be sick. I wanted him to realize that he had obligations and there wasn’t going to be anyone to bail him out of those obligations. He chose to be sick. He chose to neglect his family and remain addicted to prescription drugs. He chose it and he would have to live with it. I was tired of making excuses for him or not making excuses and just being embarrassed of his actions and that nothing seemed to be good enough to make him want to be better than he was.
I laid around all day and life went on as normal.
8:00 am on the 2nd of December my step mom called again. I wasn’t busy… I was sleeping. I woke up just long enough to press ignore and go back to sleep. Again, I refused to be an enabler. I refused to bail him out. Twenty minutes later I woke up to her calling again. I wondered why she wasn’t calling the kids’ nanny and why she absolutely had to keep trying to wake me up. It couldn’t be that bad. I went back to sleep after hitting ignore one more time. Ten minutes after that my mom came to the couch where I had passed out the night before and woke me up. She was crying.
“Shit. He must really be legitimately sick this time….”
She told me that we needed to go upstairs and that I needed to sit down.
We went up to my room. I sat on the edge of the bed. And my world came crashing to a halt.
My dad had died that morning.
He was 43 years old.
What sucks most about this?
I’m still mad at him… even more mad than I was, if thats possible.
Yes, I miss him. Yes, I love him. And yes, I’m still so very angry with him.
I’m angry that he left the way he did. I’m angry that he’ll never have the chance to get better. I’m angry that he missed my wedding by 2 short weeks. I’m angry that he left my little brother and sister without a father when they are so young. I’m angry that most of my memories of him aren’t all that pleasant. I’m angry that he deprived my unborn children of a grandfather. I’m angry that I can’t listen to a Garth Brooks song without thinking of the funeral and crying. I’m angry that I can’t watch a Robin WIlliams movie without getting upset because they look and act so much alike. I’m angry that he didn’t want to get better. I’m angry that I’ll never know why I wasn’t worth him putting himself into rehab like he promised on multiple occasions. I’m angry that he left me angry.
Do you know what my only vivid Christmas memory of him is…? The time my mom and I were trying to put up the artificial Christmas tree and we couldn’t get it straight so we woke Dad up from a nap to get him to help real fast…. He threw the tree across the room.
Then there was this one time that his wife called me saying that I needed to go pick up his truck from Wal-Mart. He drove there so drugged up that he couldn’t look straight and took my little brother with him on top of that. He had went to pick up more prescriptions. The police escorted him out of the store and took my brother from him.
More sad than that was that it wasn’t the first time something like that had happened. Back when I was in middle school my dad’s doctors stopped feeding his problem and wouldn’t prescribe him anymore. I didn’t know that he had a drug issue at this point. I was still Daddy’s Little Girl. He started detoxing and began to have hand tremors. Being a lab tech and having hand tremors isn’t the best thing for your career. So late at night when the clinic was closed he would take me up to the lab and I would do the tests for him. He would stand by me and tell me exactly what to do but I was the one who did it because he would have spilled all the blood. On our way home late one night/early one morning, we were driving on the highway through town. I said “Daddy, how about driving on the actual road?” “Danielle, I am!” “No, Daddy you aren’t! Look!” We were well over on the shoulder and extremely close to landing in the ditch. He swerved and somehow we made it home.
He used to get chronic migraines and it was like waking a sleeping bear if you ever happened to get so unlucky to do that. Then it was his stomach. Then his back. Then his legs. Migraines again. Stomach. Back…. and it goes on.
When I found out that dad had an issue it had been nearly 7 years into his addiction. My mom took my brother and I to our grandparents’ house across the state. We went back to pack up our things…. the garage was collapsed because my dad had gotten angry that my mom had hid his medicine and called all the pharmacies in town to warn them to not give him any. He had drove his truck into the side of the garage in frustration that he wouldn’t be getting his medicine. Walking inside the house was a nightmare. Our library was a disaster area. Every single book and paper was torn off the shelves and littered the floor. Family pictures and old love letters thrown down as if they meant nothing.
I never got to see him get better for long. After the divorce was final he was better for a little bit. He found someone he loved and his only vice was his daily glass of boxed wine. He was better for around 2 years… I was jealous that he wanted to get better for his new wife and stepson but apparently my brother, mother, and I weren’t good enough. After that 2 years was up though… he seemed worse than before. It seemed as though nothing mattered to him at all anymore. He gave up his job and applied for disability. He didn’t want to be around any of his kids. He sat back in the sunroom and slept.
I’m not sure how but I think that he must have known that something horrible was going to happen because about a week before his death I was over spending time with him…. and out of the blue he looked at me and asked me to promise him something that I didn’t even remember until I was looking down on him at the viewing. He said “Danielle. Promise me something. This is very important and I need you to not forget. If something happens to me I want to be buried with my mason’s ring and apron. Now, Danielle. Pay attention. Your grandmother didn’t want your grandfather buried with his. But it is VERY IMPORTANT to me that I am. Please make sure that if something happens to me that my apron and ring are with me.” They were. I actually think that that was the last time that I saw him too.
It really upsets me that all of those bad things sometimes overshadow my good memories of him… like when he took my to my Girl Scout Troop’s father-daughter sock hop and I wore his high school class ring around my neck and we danced to “Earth Angel.” He begged the DJ all night to put it on… and finally on the last dance he did. Or the time when we were at this wedding and he kept dancing with me to “Shout” and then he let me slow dance with him while I stood on his feet. Or the time he drove all the way out to Hot Springs to watch me lose at Miss Teen Arkansas. Or the time when he grew a ponytail because Duncan McCloud had one and my mom and I begged him to cut it so after weeks of begging he finally did. Or the time when he came with Justin and I to Rogers because he wanted to be there when the JP pronounced us husband and wife officially before the wedding. Or the time he finally gave Justin the “she’ll always be my little girl and by the way I don’t have a gun… I have a samurai sword” talk.
…. So now I guess I face my biggest daddy issue of all. Forgiving… without forgetting.