There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark



Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Good bye, Bob.


My father in law passed away at 4:30 this morning. My husband went to California for a convention on Monday and California is where my father in law lived of course. While we live in Idaho, our roots and sometimes our hearts are in California.
My husband didn't let any of the family know he was going to be in town because he had a full agenda of talks and classes and would not have time to visit. There is a coincidence here...more than a coincidence. We are not religous people, my husband has no faith base and mine as a fallen away Catholic is most times a faith of guilt. But, my husband was in California when his fraternal grandmother passed away, a grandmother that he had taken care of, was in California in May 2005 when his step mother passed away and helped his dad through a really rough time, and now is in California at the passing of his father. There is a higher power working with my husband and he is starting to realize it.

Steve's family fractured when he, the oldest, was barely a teenager. There were 3 other biological siblings and one biologically related adopted sibling. The siblings are not close and none of the younger children had contacted their father until my husband and I found him in Oklahoma with his wife probably 20 plus years ago. We had a reunion, but there was little bonding as a group. My husband however did connect with his dad and a new relationship was born.

Over the years we visited them in Oklahoma and they moved to California about the time we moved to Idaho. We would see them every time we traveled home and enjoyed being with them.

My husband's siblings have not been able to let go of the human mistakes their father made when they were children, have held a grudge all of these years and stayed distant from him using many old and some new and creative excuses for avoiding any social contact.....hugging him is like touching a tree trunk, he is cold and distant so why should I try, I can't forget that he cheated on our mother, he was a miserable father, he smells like he hasn't showered, his wife was nasty to us when she was dying of cancer, the kids are sick.....and so many other stupid and silly words to not have to face life, perhaps their own mistakes and just plain old looking for a reason to not interrupt their own oh-so-important lives.

My father in law was a difficult man to unravel. His divorce from Steve's mother was beyond nasty and the kids of course suffered the most from this. His father simply disappeared after re-marrying because he felt his children just didn't want him in their lives. Not a good reason to never contact them again, but it was his reason and why question it after so many years? Steve needed to move on and establish and adult relationship; the others wanted to wallow in anger and resentment.

My father in law had married young while in the Navy, had children one right after another, adopted another, had a life altering accident, overcame the resulting disability, was prosperous and maybe had made a marital mistake....no one knows for sure. But, Steve's mother did everything in her power to destroy him with their divorce and that included making sure their children were on her side. He bailed, left, vamoosed, abandoned, whatever word it is that describes the vacant feeling in a child's heart where a father used to be.

Yes, he was distant at times...he was stone deaf....so he seemed distant. How do you connect with a child that blames you for all of their woes from childhood to adulthood? How many times can you apologize before it sounds hollow and insincere? At least he tried.

I loved this man, emailed him and uncovered him. I shared these emails with my husband and he was able to discover a dad he never knew; one that reminisced about his childhood at "the ranch" in Northern California, his experiences in the Navy where coincidentally he spent a lot of time about 20 miles from where we are in Idaho. He told me about some of his family, his father, and many other really neat stories that can only come from someone with a lot of years on their backs and in the end wisdom. He and my husband loved each other and it showed in so many small ways; the good bye hug that included an extra squeeze, the gift of a camera so we could have a gazillion pictures of California flowers, sunsets and a much loved cranky dog, the phone system he got so we could "Talk" to him...this man that had larger than life captions on his TV, just the little things that usually go unnoticed.

My father in law had a miserable life this last year and a half. His loneliness was like a shirt that just got more and more wrinkled from wearing it night and day. He and his wife were inseparable and once she was gone, slowly so was he. My husband and I recognize ourselves in this couple; we are each other's staff, canes, partners, team members, rah rah club, friends, confidantes, lovers, soft place to land. This loss is a hard feeling to swallow, one that will be new to my husband; he no longer has a parent to talk to...not necessarily ask advice of, but just talk to knowing they are there and available, he is next up like I am, our "arrangements" are not in order and our kids might have as difficult a time as we are now taking care of our "business" once we are gone, the cord is finally cut, we are adults and need to take care of ourselves, there is no one wiser than us, no one left that knows our past.
For Bob.


3 comments:

JessnBekahsmom said...

Oh, Rosemary I am so sorry. I lost my own mother a year and a half ago after years of a debilitating illness. My thoughts and prayers are with your husband and with you. I am so glad he was able to mend those fences and he will have only good memories now.

celerman said...

Sorry to hear about your father-in-law.

mart said...

I'm sorry too rosemary.