Dads wake is today. I have purchased appropriate clothing for my sons, hunted around for dress shoes for same and procured a second dress for myself, as the funeral mass is on Saturday and it is expected to be quite warm.
I am experiencing a flurry of emotions. It is likely no surprise that I was not exactly close to my dad. I don’t feel any loss of a relationship, per se. No loss of phone calls, fun times, card games, conversation. Yet he was my dad. The only one I had. For better or for worse, he was Daddy.
Dad was a complicated man. He was a Gemini, like me. He had an incredibly difficult start to life being born in WWII Poland. He set foot on American soil when he was 5 years 11 months old. He spent 12 days at sea with his mother on the SS Ernie Pyle. His mother married not once, but twice, while she lived here in the States. The first marriage produced a set of identical twin sons 11 years younger than my Dad. They were related, yet not. Different generations and entirely different life beginnings caused them to be almost strangers to each other. My father, the bastard child, was a 1950s rebel without a cause while his younger brothers were over protected highly sheltered nerds.
I am touched, deeply, by the showing of support for me, my mother and my siblings. Friends and family have been dropping off food to the house while others make touching entries into my fathers guest book. The memories, the silly memories, the good ones of my dad come to me at the oddest moments. When the memories are not there, the expectation that he is still here is ever-present. Last night I went to call my mom and experienced a flash of panic as I realized i dialed the house phone and that the ringing would wake my Dad. I then realized I could now call my mother’s house freely as Dad is no longer there to hear it ring.
I was a tad bit annoyed at the local papers that had edited our obituary. I had put very specific items in that listing and became angry that they might have removed one of those important words. They did not. They kept in the fact that he had fourteen children, the first of which is my daughter.
I did inform my daughter that her grandfather had died. It was brief and to the point. I did make a point of letting her know what he died of and that one portion of this illness was indeed genetic.
There was no response. No offer of condolences, no “gee, thanks for letting me know”. Just dead air.
While I must admit this saddened me, I was not completely surprised. I did not let her know out of any favor to her or even with the expectation I would get a condolence in return. I offered it because it is who I am, what I believe is the right thing to do, and how I want to be known. I did it for me.
Yet with that, I felt slightly bitch slapped by adoption once again. I will never get used to the lack of feeling and caring that it creates between parties. I will never understand the depth of anger/denial/avoidance/whatever that prevents a person from expressing a simple condolence. They don’t print this stuff in those happy adoption brochures. The professionals offer no guidance on dealing with such feelings. They don’t tell expectant mothers “Your child will be so happy to be adopted, have such a good life, that when you notify them a member of their family has died, they wont care one bit! Isn’t that fabulous!”
It simply makes me sad. How unfortunate for all concerned, most of all for future expectant mothers who will never be told what adoption is truly all about.