Dear Blog – 50 Shades of Father,
I have come to the saddest conclusion that some questions will never be realised when it refers to answers, equally as much have l come to understand that there are answers for questions never asked or even thought of.
My Mother less than two weeks ago, implored me to ‘let the ghosts’ lie with regards my Father, that he was now a feeble man, dying of cancer, and feeling terribly alone in the world, which is why he wanted to constantly be in the presence of people, not necessarily family, but anyone that could come and share moments with him. Share the last moments so he wouldn’t feel lonely.
I have had many questions banging around in my head for the last fifty years or so, that Dad point blank refused to acknowledge let alone touch ground with. Now, that he has gone, those question’s answers have travelled to the abyss with him…. except they haven’t. Most assuredly Dad was not expecting to die in 2018 of liver and bowel cancer, that wasn’t in his diary of must do’s for this week, month or year.
So therefore all his paperwork, the very same documents l am poring over night and day currently, were not in order. He was a meticulous man when it came to his facts and figures and extremely passionate with things he wanted to be passionate about. You only have to look inside his house to see these passions – the many books on cricket, history, Napoleonic warfare, animals, Winston Churchill and the list went on. If you looked at his stamp collection, you would once more see an extreme level of dedication to his chosen era, if you saw the many tigers that filled his living environment you could easily see he was enthusiastic about that particular cat species. His music was an abundant collection of his favourite singers such as Neil Diamond or Frank Sinatra just as samplers.
Everything he did, yes was for himself, but he did it with passion. People however were not considered a passion, they were simply .. people. I can relate to that. There are people of note and people not at all noteworthy in my life. I think that may be an autistic trait. He was most definitely somewhere on the spectrum, whether he liked to acknowledge it or not, he sat there on that platform and when you are in his house it yells out at you in high volume! “HEY!! LOOK!!”
Dad’s paperwork, not attended to by him, because of the aggressive suddeness of the cancer had not been touched, because if he had of had the time, he would have doctored them, he would have fixed it to not display the time when there was no mask worn by him, when he was simply just himself.
He wore masks with other people all the time, another trait l can relate to very easily, for before Suze l was always wearing masks to hide who l was to a world that cared not for quirks or of being different. Once l was with Suze however, we agreed that no more masks would be worn, and it has been like that for nearly six years.
But when Dad became ill, he could no longer mask up his emotions, any of them, so people started to see a different man before them, and yet l didn’t – l only saw the man l had known all through my life, and yet there was still one side of him, that l never knew either and that was the face of no mask. Dying as he was contorted all the masks he used to wear, so much so, that he found he could only wear one mask daily, it was still a mask – it was the second mask, the this is who l am mask, bot not all of me is on display! Just enough to get through.
As l sift through hundreds if not thousands of pages of documented files belonging to him, l am slowly coming to terms with the laying of ghosts, because l am now underneath the first mask, l am now reading the face of a man who wears no masks anymore. I am beneath the death mask. It saddens me that he chose to not show his children who he truly was. Yes we saw the aggression and the violence, and that was him, that the was manipulative man we grew up with. But even then he wore a mask, so he wasn’t even truly our Father, just a man with a mask on.
These last few days and nights, l have had to slowly read many documents to look for answers, not just for my questions, but for the legal requirement of closing down his estate. I do wonder if this was the last laugh? I doubt it, he was diagnosed and dead before the realisation fully sank in. He simply ran out of time. Pride and stubborness were the masks he wore when he received the diagnosis, he refused to allow my Sister and myself to get help to him, so it took a serious fall for him to be hospitalised and only then were we able to set up and establish health care for him at home.
Had he the time, knowing my Father as l do/did, he would have gone through this paperwork, and not only got it into a sensible order, but he would’ve also and more importantly, disposed of many of the documents l am reading now – he would not have wanted me to read some of these, and yet l am.
My Father made a decision 20+ years ago, to not give up his family for a relationship and the partner at the time left him, sounds pretty straight forward, but it wasn’t, there was more depth to it. He hated that decision, and he hated making that decision for every single day of those twenty years. It made him a very bitter man, and he took his bitterness out on his children, and mostly his Son. We [Sister and myself] were the blame for him making that decision.
Instead of him just facing up to the facts that the partner of his wouldn’t consider a compromise, he decided that his children were totally too blame for the whole thing, therefore extracting himself from his own decision. it is easier to blame someone else isn’t it?
He was smitten with this lady, and he never once moved on, so much so, that he really didn’t move on from 1998 – everything stopped, his whole life stopped dead, he lost interest in life and ploughed even deeper into his passions. It was just easier to blame his children for his decision, and so he then started the ‘rift’ between us, his bitterness driving a wedge into a chasm that was only marginally small at that time, but with his help, he widened it. But also, because his Son didn’t have children of his own, in comparison to his Sister, that was considered a serious flaw!
My Sister isn’t completely innocent to all this, she wanted a good lifestyle for her family, she was divorced and wasn’t in a high income job and her Father was willing to pay for it, so she also helped widen the gap. Such is the way of life l guess.
But now as l find myself working through hundreds of one sided love letters from my Father to his then partner between the years 95 – 99, from the time they broke up, to the time he stopped writing to her and she stopped answering him. She politely told him to leave her alone, to stop sending cheques, to stop sending anything – but in many respects he was like a stalker to her, he simply could not move on from her or his decision.
Knowing my Father as l do/did he would not have wanted me to see those letters, as they display a weakness, and he could not abide weakness of any kind, and yet here l am reading about his vulnerabilities and at the same time seeing a different man. Now, l simply see 50 shades of Father. The shades he chose to never show anyone else. In so doing, with these letters l find many of my long held questions being answered, that he would never tell me about who he was.
Last week, my Sister and l sat down with the humanatarian and he was asking us questions about our Father, and in many cases we couldn’t answer him jointly. My Sister enjoyed a different relationship with the man than l did. I knew the cold hard brutal Father, and whilst her answers were more emotional, we could only agree upon one feature and that was we didn’t really know him, because he would never let us in. When asked would we describe him as a loving Father and husband, we both agreed to answer with NO, he wasn’t and yet reading these letters from him to his then partner, l am seeing a man, that my Mother never saw, nor his children.
All we could agree on for our Father’s service was he had many shades and each was different to the person he was speaking to or behaving with, that he wore many masks with everyone, so much so, that he had perhaps forgotten what life was like when not wearing one. And yet, l am now reading my unmasked Father’s words and slowly coming to terms with who he really truly was.