Telling truth and waiting naked for an echo.
“I hate graveyards and old pawn shops, for they always bring me tears, I can’t forgive the way they robbed me of my childhood souvenirs.”
Parenthood was something I never really had sussed out till I was a parent. I mean as a wise old 20 something I had it expected and almost wanted. I had all my rules and lines set in store. There were things my parents done and things your parents were doing that I wasn’t going to and the things I was going to do because it just seemed like the right thing to do. So many unfounded ideas and thoughts but brother let me tell you I was sure of them. And don’t you argue me when I am sure. Because man can I speak in the definitive and I can throw in some arcane and vague fact, figure and trivia. I got me a shovel and I know how to dig down into that great big pile of bullshit I call my intellect.
But then along come August 2007, and a nurse handed me this tiny little girl we called Ruby. And boy oh boy! All that empty wisdom flew out the window. Here was the most beautiful thing I ever saw and the scariest. I remember looking at my hands as I held her and thought ‘What am I going to do? I still feel like a kid myself.’ And it was then that it all sank in. I guess I am going to do the best I can. I will do as I can whenever I could. And I am going to try to always make the best choice. I knew I already loved her, loved her like I never have loved anything before. I knew that from the moment I knew of her existence swimming around in her mommies’ tummy. That can ever be questioned. And it’s the only part of this whole crazy ride that I am absolutely sure. But all the other stuff. Man I had no clue…I was flying blind.
And as life does I got spun hard. Eleven weeks later my father died of a drug overdose and it broke it all apart. Or at least started a big crack in the foundation and the rest of the house started to come crumbling down. I was devastated. Because it seemed like things were just starting. My old man was a grandpa, something he always wanted to be. And he was already showing that he would do just fine. The last time he saw Ruby he leaned over as I held her in my arms and kissed her and said “I love you baby, I’ll see you again real soon” and I could see that the angry young man who raised me and filled me with fear, the breaking machine that drove me half insane was gone and here was just another man, an old man who’d lived too hard and was softened by it. He’d seen enough miles to know it’s a long trip to go and it wasn’t worth the pain and rage anymore. And I was so hopeful. That maybe I wouldn’t have to do this father thing all by myself and I could call him and he’d always be there and he’d laugh at the good and talk me through the hard. I could see him fussing over a pretty new dress that she was wearing and teaching her silly songs. He would take her in his lap and tickle her. It was as it should be. At least that’s what I thought.
Life being the puzzle I never could solve threw that all across time and told me it had other plans. Grandpa died, I went a little crazy and lost my way for a while. A couple hospital stays and some poor choices for myself took me out. And recovering took some time. In fact it still is taking time. My mother made some choices for herself, my brother too. And suddenly all I had known was gone. I had no real family. You ever want to know how people feel about you and how they stack up? Throw death into the mix. People just scattered. No one called, no one seemed to care and only were there when I came to them and then it felt mostly like they were responding to some obligation that remained unspoken. I don’t blame them. Who wants a hurting and grieving machine firing on two bad pistons sitting in their living room. And I felt more alone…Even more then before.
My relationship with my daughter’s mother went to hell. I became insane, possessive and panicked. I got hit by a bad case of the “hostage taker’s blues”, that’s where you take someone emotionally hostage and become so demanding and determined that it crushes the life from the relationship. And before it’s done you wonder why there’s love at all anymore. Making you even more blue than before. Ultimately it ended. I can say I take responsibility for my part in that. I do completely, I feel guilt and I feel shame and I feel hurt. I regret the hurt I caused and the shame I gave. I don’t blame her for running. Man I would maybe have run too. Maybe even sooner than she did. And so where once there was love there is now distance and contention. Grief is a bitch and it gets in everything.
I have been trying to pull an even keel and get myself together. I have searched out God. Because I know there are questions in my heart only he can answer. I got sober. See I was just like my Dad. An addict with a heart and a mind to want better. But I made a lot of really bad moves in the process. Things I may never atone for and things I owe so much in apology for. To everyone I know. And to me. I live with things I cannot forget and I fight to forgive, mostly I done to myself. I have become a Daddy on alternating weekends and agreed upon days between. I do the best I can. Just like any parent does. Or any good parent. Because more than anything else in this life, that is the definition of being a good parent. Did you do the best you could with what you had? Because I swear here and now, there is no perfect score in this dance.
But man what I wouldn’t give to turn back the clock. To when it was all still there in front of me. Back to when I took it all for granted and made myself a deserving fool. Just to sit down again and see something other than ghosts, hurt and goodbyes staring back at me. When lonely was just something I felt for an hour at a time. Back to another life I sometimes can’t remember anymore.
My father died two years ago this month. And I am scared to go outside because sometimes the weather feels just like it did the day I laid him to rest. The day it all began to come apart. Good or bad, change for the better or not…It started there. And now I live this everyday.
And I miss my old man.