As most of you know, my father is a life long alcoholic. Wow, it still remains difficult for me to put that down in black and white.
Anyway, since my mother passed away in 2006, it has been just my dad and I. I know that he loves me and doesn’t understand why I keep my distance, why I rarely call him, why I don’t include him. For my own preservation I have limited his presence in my life for the better part of 20 years. His addiction has wreaked havoc, humiliation and pain on my life and lucky him….he wakes up in the morning with no memory of his actions. If it hadn’t been for my mother’s sister and cousins, I would have been unsalvageable. My cousins took the place of those siblings that I never had…they were my family in every sense of the word.
This brings me to Saturday… My father called but I hadn’t heard the phone ring, so I missed the call and he didn’t leave a message. I decided to get a cup of coffee to gather myself before I returned his call. However, I never had the chance. My cousin called and quite frankly after I said hello, all I heard was the most painful wailing I have ever heard. I couldn’t make out anything she was saying and I could hear my aunt in the background sobbing. Finally, my cousin was able to string enough coherent words together that I now understood why they were so utterly devastated. My father had just called and told them that the coroner’s office had just called to let him know that I had passed away. I was speechless. And then the biggest wave of guilt washed over me. I was helpless to comfort my family…I was numb.
The rest of the day was a fog. My family (my mother’s side) contacted my father and informed him that they were cutting all ties. For over 40 years, we have all endured his addiction and this was the deal breaker. My father continued to drink throughout the day and rallied his siblings to contact me and plead his case. Somehow, he was being sold as the victim. I refuse to speak to any of them. He continued to call and leave message after message and his story morphed over time…first it was the coroner that called, then someone had called him to say they were hurting me, then someone had called and had told him they had murdered me and the last version had me dead from a gunshot wound. However, the truth does not have versions.
I had to get out of the house…I went for some retail therapy. On my way to the store the police department called me to determine what condition I may be in. I was flabbergasted. My first response literally to the officer was, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding, right?” After I explained my family situation, the officer noted my father’s “condition” in the system. How many times have I had to have my father’s “condition” noted throughout my life? More times then I care to admit.
I finally contacted my father in the evening only to let him know how completely reckless and cruel his actions were, how horrified I felt that my father could inflict such pain and be so ignorant while doing so. Even if I were to considered that he truly believed these “calls” actually took place, that consideration could not be overcome by the fact that he continued to drink throughout the day and make phone call after phone call; that his addiction has permanently altered his ability to think and act like a reasonable person.
Well, it’s not everyday that you can see how your death would affect your loved ones. In a strange almost inappropriate sense, I was immensely flattered and touch that my family would be so shattered from such news. It was as if I truly had escaped death that day. However, a much bigger escape took place…I was free of the guilt and obligation that has imprisoned me in regards to my father. There was nothing more that he could do to hurt me because that’s all he was capable of doing to me. I was finally…released.