Saturday, September 17, 2016
A Few Words...
...regarding the death of my father.
Is it weird to be grateful? It has been so many years since Dad had the full use of his faculties. He didn't know who I was, though he sometimes looked like he knew he should. I can't imagine it was a pleasant way to live. He had Alzheimer's. Dementia. Parkinson's. And he finally decided he'd had enough. And that's OK. I had long since mourned the passing of my father. The funeral was just a formality.
It was a nice funeral. There were some family members I was glad to see again. I got to interact with the Mosdell family (the morticians), which is always nice. They were very friendly and were concerned with my well-being. Not just as family of the deceased, but as a friend. It was cathartic to go through the funeral services. I didn't have any responsibilities, which was great as I was very involved with Mom's funeral.
I loved my father. I know he loved me.
(Here's the part where I try to process my thoughts about my relationship with my father. This is from my perspective. There were many people, including many of my nieces and nephews and some people who weren't blood related, who had a better relationship with my father than I did. Please don't try to discredit my feelings. They are mine. They should in no way diminish yours.)
I didn't have a stellar relationship with my father. I feel now as though he just didn't have time for me. I think we just didn't have a whole lot in common apart from our familial relationship. Even though we were both avid readers, our books of choice were vastly different. I remember trying to read some of Dad's collection of Louis L'Amour novels. The only one I liked was Lando, and it wasn't a typical L'Amour book.
Back in February I started working with a counselor. I started off focusing on my grief following Mom's death. As we worked through those feelings, we started talking about my relationship with Dad. That became the focus of the bulk of our sessions. For one session, my counselor asked that I come prepared by remembering a "disturbing" memory.
In my memory I believe I'm around 12 years old. I'm jumping on the trampoline. Dad is working on a project with Mom. He calls me over as he needs an additional pair of hands. I walk across the lawn in my socks to help. He needs me to hold his drill while he adjusts the pieces he is screwing together. His drill that is all metal. I take it, get shocked, and drop it. Dad gets a little irritated. He picks it up and hands it back to me. I drop it again. I'm crying now because getting shocked is a bit painful, plus Dad is now upset with me. I can't remember how the situation was resolved. Thinking about it now, I can't believe that Dad didn't realize what was happening when I first dropped the drill. He taught science. I was grounded. It's no big surprise I was shocked when he, wearing shoes, was not.
I discussed this memory with my counselor until I no longer felt it was disturbing to me. I made some progress resolving my feelings toward my father. I moved to South Carolina, then went back to Utah briefly for Dad's funeral.
After I came back to South Carolina I spent a while trying to scan family documents. I started scanning a calendar that Dad used as a diary, making brief notations for each day. I stopped to read one when I saw my name written. He was talking about supporting me at a Cub Scout ceremony. Then he wrote the following, "When Adam was born I was jealous of him because he took my wife as a mother. He still does. I, however, have lost my jealousy feelings."
My father resented me.
This was quite the revelation. There were emotions and memories that clicked into place. From what I understand, feelings of jealousy and resentment from fathers toward their children is common. I wonder if Dad really had conquered his jealousy. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. That journal entry helped clear some things up. It helps explain why I didn't feel all that close to Dad.
Knowing that Dad felt that way makes me feel a little vindicated. That I'm not crazy for feeling that there was a distance between us. Is there still some processing I need to do? Probably, but I feel like, as far as feelings about my dad go, that I'm in a pretty good place now.