Sunday, June 8, 2014

TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY

Twenty years ago today my Dad passed away.
It doesn't seem that long ago but then again it does.
I've talked about our relationship here before.
How we started out as almost strangers
and then after my mom passed, him falling into the role of a very strict disciplinarian.
I've written how he got rid of almost everything, including all of my pets,

and how I hated him... but also loved him.
Over the years many things changed between us.
There was a period of time after I moved out on my own where I caused him a lot of grief.
The quiet obedient child finally rebelling and doing the opposite of everything he wanted.
But time went on until we finally both matured and by some miracle became best friends.

The man who I could never talk to somehow became someone that I could casually drop by his house with my dog
and sit on the patio and chat and laugh.
I would call him about the silliest of things, like a funny story about how my dog was chasing lightning bugs
and what a sight it was to see.
Or I talk to him about boyfriend problems and he would give me his opinions
although I never followed his advice.
We still had our moments, times when he would comment about dishes in my sink
or some other household chore that wasn't done to his satisfaction and I would get upset
but not as upset as his complete lack of emotional support of anything I did artistically.
In fact, the night before it happened I called him to let him know that I had entered a piece of my Art work in an Art exhibition.
I was excited because it had been chosen to be in one of the downtown business windows.
I wanted desperately for him to go down and see it and the ribbon that hung from it and 
I started to give him instructions to the building's location but he had interrupted and told me not to bother.
He said that he doubted that he would make it down there.
I bit my tongue although my feelings were very hurt.
I wanted to say so many things but I figured why?
I knew it would just created an argument and not solve anything.
I knew I couldn't change his feelings towards Art.
So, I just finished up the conversation and then went to meet a friend to go see a movie.
We went and saw "Forrest Gump".
On the drive home, after talking about the movie, we started talking about our fathers.
Both of our Dads were far from being young and both were semi-retired and liked to come to our homes to tinker around.
She laughed how her Dad would buy things for her house without her approval, things that she herself would not have chosen
and I shook my head and said that my Dad would send me out to buy whatever he needed
or if he did pick up something, he'd had me the receipt for reimbursement.
We talked about how while they could be frustrating as hell, we both would be totally lost without them.
I remember saying to her that if something happened to my Dad, that they would have come get me and take me straight to the Mental Hospital
because I just would not be able to handle it.
We were quiet for a few minutes as she drove, thinking about it and then she started to sing.
My friend can NOT sing but she thinks she can.
I covered my ears and pleaded for her to stop and she just turned up the radio louder.
Finally we were at her house and I got out and pretended to run to my car as we were both laughing.
Then I drove home and tried not to think about our prior conversation.
The next day I was working at my retail job.
Usually I would leave right on the dot at noon for my lunch break but I was running late helping a client.
I finished up about a quarter after to find my area manager standing at our work station waiting for me.
She looked so serious as she said that they needed me up in the office, that the store manager had to talk to me.
"OK!" I brightly answered. I knew I wasn't in trouble. I always exceeded my sales goal but then her face made me hesitate.
"What's wrong?" I asked and she flushed and looked down and just said "You need to go up there Cindi".
I could see tears in her eyes so I went right away, taking the stairs rather than the elevator.
I got to the office and some of the customer service girls looked stricken, but some just had their heads down avoiding me.
So I walked behind the counter and looked at the Office Manager and mouthed the words to her
"Am I being fired?" she just looked at me and then the one of the store managers opened the door of their office and said to come in.
I stepped inside and she closed the door.  The other manager was there too.
He said "You have a phone call, you can take it here at my desk" and then they both left the room.
I picked up the phone and it was my Dad's next door neighbor. 
She was saying something about my step-mom coming home from work for lunch and..."
Then the neighbor was crying.
"Did something happen to her?" I asked. I guess my mind would just not let me even think it might be Dad.
"No, Cindi, you just need to come to your Dad's house" she sobbed.
I refused. I told her that I wasn't coming until I knew why and then she said it.
"He's gone Cindi, your Dad is gone. Your step-mom came home and found him down in his den..."
I don't know now what else she was saying. I started trembling and I was crying silently.
One of the managers opened the door and put her hand on my back, I was shaking so hard that she said she would drive me. 
So....
we pulled up to my fathers home, firetrucks, an ambulance, cop cars lined his quiet street.
I walked inside and my step-mom rushed to me.
She was hysterical.
The coroner was there and as we sat down on the sofa,  I recognized a friend of an old boyfriend of mine, a funeral director.
He leaned forward towards me, his face looked like I was seeing at it in a doorknob.
So close and distorted.
He was saying something to me but I have no clue what.
I was crying so hard.
At some point I realized that my Dad was still in house.
They said that since they had been told that he didn't want a service and wanted to be cremated that they weren't sure if I would be able to see him later, so did I want to see him now? before they took his body?
Ok, maybe this is too much detail but I did want to see him.
I remembered walking towards the stairs and unknown voices calling out that the daughter was coming down.
So I walked downstairs, through the rooms and past firemen, policemen, I guess that's who they were.
To me they just strange men in a nightmare.
And then there he was.
He had a heart attack in his den.
By the bathroom he had gotten a bit sick and someone was saying they could see that he had taken his heart pills, that he must have realized something was happening but....
Yeah.
So after an eternity or maybe it was just a few minutes, I called my sister.
She lived in Ohio at the time.
I had her go get her husband and sit down and I told her.
She wouldn't believe me at first, that's what she kept saying but I knew that she knew it was true.
I told her what I knew as we both sobbed.
I don't remember the whole conversation really, everything was becoming so surreal and dream-like.
I went back into the living room and sat some more with my stepmom.
She had called her friend and her parents and her sister.
So I just sat and finally later in the afternoon I called my friend.
I just said her name and she started crying, and I told her that I had to tell her something
and she just kept yelling "no, no , NO! I don't want to hear you."
But I told her and she was sobbing and I asked her to call my other friends for me and let them know what had happened.
So yeah, twenty years ago today.
Twenty years ago today, a lifetime ago
but then again not.
A few nights later, my friend went to the Art Exhibition Party for me and walked up when they called my name.
She held my piece of work as it was auctioned off.
She said a well-known artist commented on it and said it was very cool.
I had made a mask as everyone had for the exhibit.
The funds were to go for a Halloween event they were having later that year
so I created something with that in mind.
It was a mermaids head with her eyes closed and her mouth open.
It was a greenish grey color, hopefully so that it would look like it had been under the sea for a very long time.
It was creepy and spooky.
Anyway, my friend came to my home later and told me about the evening and said it was very exciting.
I just nodded.
She walked around my house, looking at the plants and baskets people had sent
and then she asked if she could opened the big basket they had sent me from work.
It was filled with junk food.
I said sure and poured some alcohol as she opened up some Oreo's.
Back then I really didn't eat stuff like that but as we sat on the sofa watching TV, both drinking and her eating, I told her to give me some of those cookies.
Yep, I still crave those damn things whenever I 'm really down.
In fact, twenty years later, I think I could use some Oreo's just about now.

12 comments:

sassypackrat said...

This seems like a very hard post for you to write and necessary too. I understand you anger and grief. I had a very complicated relationship with my father who unfortunately passed away when I was only 19. Just stay away from the Oreos today!

tammy j said...

bittersweet.
and so moving that it drew my tears.
i lost my dad when i was 17.
a total disciplinarian that i could never please.
but i adored him.
have an oreo for me too dear one.
love

Cynthia Myers said...

Jenn,
Yes, it was hard to write. I prefer to try not to think about it but today I felt like I had to let it all out. I think so many people our age had fathers who viewed their kids as someone to be seen but not heard and certainly not to be spoiled.
Yep.

No Oreo's today but maybe some chips!
:D

Cynthia Myers said...

Tammy,
I was 36, so we luckily had years to work out many of our differences.
I loved him very much and although I grieved for a long time...I never forgave him for many things.
Sigh.
My Mom, well I lost her when I was 14. Life was not perfect before that as she was ill and then there were other things going on too.
Hey! what's that saying?
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!"
Anyway, thanks for the kind comment! xoxo

Vicki said...

Dear Cindi. Thank you for opening your heart, and letting us share in your story. It's not always easy to do so - sharing private periods in our lives with the world.
I can empathise with your sadness and longing for parental acceptance of our artistic pursuits. Of all the people in the world, their support is what we seek the most - at least when we're young. My parents were never remotely interested, at all, in my art.
You're a wonderful artist, and it would've been nice to have your father's encouragement. I totally understand the hurt.

Even though your relationship with your father was tough at times, it's so very good to read that you and he finally developed a kinship, which somehow softens the less happy times. I'm very glad you had that.
Sadly, the news of my father's passing was met with numb relief - I was badly abused by him, and have little to no happy memories of him at all. Only bitter recollections.

So, your story touches my heart.

Go ahead, indulge in Oreo's. Why not?
Why must we deny ourselves, if that is a way of honouring a certain day or gets us through a not-so-good time? At least it's not overindulgence in drugs or alcohol, leading to a spiral into melancholy, and worse.

It's only Oreo's! Hell, I eat a whole tub of icecream and chocolate topping when I want/need to, lol!
Don't let the world - this society - tell you what's right and wrong in that regards.
Hey, I'll have an Oreo (or two, or three) with you!
xxx

Cynthia Myers said...

Vicki,
Thank you SO much for this wonderful comment. I'm so sorry to read that your father was so abusive. That breaks my heart. It amazes me that people have to take tests and get a license for so many things but anyone can father a child and be a parent. Childhood should be a happy time but sadly it's not for so many. Sometimes I wonder if kids are creative because they have to find a way to escape to another world. Someplace where their mind can drift away from reality.
xoxo
I don't have any Oreo's handy but there is some ice cream in the freezer and I will have a scoop (or two) and raise my bowl to you!
xoxo

An Urban Cottage said...

A very tough read but I read every. last. word. I hoped it helped you in some way to put that all out to the universe.

Cynthia Myers said...

Steve,
I worried that I shared too much.
Sometimes I forget to censor myself and just blurt it out for all to see.
I was just sitting there, remembering every detail and it was giving me such a headache.
I thought I could possibly exorcise it from my mind by sharing it here.
I actually wrote much more but ended up deleting a lot.
I do feel like it was rather cathartic to spill my guts and maybe now I can just let it all go....
or not
or, put it in a book.

Denise Duffy said...

Wow! What a wonderful and brave post. What's strange is I have never stopped by your blog, but something certainly led me here this evening. I was thinking about my mom just today. She passed away suddenly in 2009. We found her dead in her backyard. Isn't it strange how we can remember every single detail? I'll eat a virtual Oreo for you! And hope that you are having a better Tuesday than your Sunday was.:)
Denise

Cynthia Myers said...

Denise,
Thanks so much for leaving a comment and such a kind one!
I think that we happen across things when we are supposed to. Maybe to let us know that we are not alone and that others share what we are experiencing. I'm assuming you came here by the way of Nita's blog and the funny thing is that I found her blog a few years back by accident and the post was about HER dad. We have been good friends ever since.
So, thanks for having an "Oreo"!
and yes, Tuesday is much better than Sunday was.
:D

Nita Stacy said...

This was a hard post for me to read and I know it was hard for you to write. I have not put to blog the day my Dad died...like you everything was in an altered reality that day. I try to just not think about it. I know I am doing better because I can make myself not think about it. I feel like I'm not here at all these days as I'm always at work. Right now I am suppose to be working in the yard but instead am reading blogs...terrible of me....I know. I love you Cindy! So glad we met here. Denise's blog was the first blog I ever read and how I found all the others. She is here in Oklahoma too! I know she had a rough time when she lost her Mom. I am lucky...I still have my Mom...today I took her to get a cataract removed and in a couple of weeks we'll get the other one removed. Then she'll be seeing the world clearly again. She is so excited!

Cynthia Myers said...

Nita,
Sorry about it being a hard read, I just felt on this anniversary of 20 yrs, I had to get it out.
I also understand about not thinking about such a loss. I still refuse to remember a lot about my Mom. What I do remember is enough and I wish I could push that out of my head too. But that was so different because of her long illness.
Anyway! Now that I spilled my guts, I'd rather not think about that for a while again.
I'm so glad I know you too Nita!
xoxox
We go through so much of the same things, it's nice to have someone who lives it and understands.
and I totally get the work thing!
Some days it's really hard to do so many things.
So glad to hear that your mom is going to be seeing clearly again!
take care my friend. xoxo