Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Musings On A Father's Day Ritual

For newer friends who don't know: My parents divorced when I was 6 months old in 1976 and my father died before I turned 4 years old in 1979. To say he didn't treat my mother well is an epic understatement. To say he was abusive is an epic understatement. His 'tough' city fire fighter co-workers were afraid of him. He drank heavily, another epic understatement, from a very young age and, for all intensive purposes, drank himself to death. He had his first heart attack at the age of 36. He died shortly after his 3rd heart attack at the age of 44. It was a case of Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, but Mr. Hyde was in control more often than not, whether he was sober or not.

And despite everything he did to her, had she known he was lying in a FL hospital bed dying, she would have gone to see him to say goodbye. But my grandparents didn't want her to know. That's another story for another time. Grandmother eventually told my mother his ashes had been scattered in the Gulf of Mexico.

I have a ritual on Father's Day that I started in 2001 after an ex-boyfriend, his son and I went to see the first Tomb Raider movie, of all things, on or close to that Father's Day. (There's a scene in the movie where Lara Croft gets to see her father though he's passed on and for whatever reason, it hit me right in the chest - Very unexpected). After dropping his son at home (to his mother) we parked somewhere either facing Newark Bay or NY Bay (on the NJ side), I don't remember which now, and I poured Years worth of anger & hurt into a card I bought at a drug store after the movie. Then I sealed the card, got out of the car and walked to the waters edge. Water. Something I've lived near 99% of my life. Water. My father's grave. I flung the card out into the Bay. (Please, save the lectures about that aspect of the story!)

It was truly a cathartic experience which I've carried on more times than not over the last 11 years. Once or twice the card ended up stuck in the back of my journals. At least once I know I didn't feel the need to write to him at all and so I didn't. And sometimes, despite the fact that he permanently ruined my mother's soul & broke her spirit, I write to him out of guilt because I love my Father.in.law so much.

I wouldn't say I've made peace with his ghost, though at times I've thought I have. I've given that a chance a few times, but when I did, bad things happened immediately after and I fully believe it's no coincidence.  But, for the most part, I let the negativity pass into the cards and then be done with it so it's one less thing I have to deal with and for that this ritual has been great.

This year has been especially tough, with Mom having had her mini-stroke and my Father.in.law dying of heart failure & cancer.  As I wrote in the card pictured above, "And so I spend this day on the verge of tears with my heart in my throat, dreading the coming loss of a wonderful man who has made this day a positive day for the first time in my life these last 8 years and wishing you had been a different man while you were alive so I could just mourn you on days like today instead of being conflicted as I am."

This year's card didn't go into the water. Will it end up stuck in the back of my Spring journal or will I burn it in the fire pit when we finally get up to our northern home again?

We'll see.

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

4 comments:

Mrs Melissa Baker said...

Gosh, you have been through so much. Thank you for opening up your heart tonight.

With this letter, wherever it ends up.. leave with it all your bad thoughts.

Find the positives if any at all, pick them up, embrace them and savour those special and maybe rare moments.

Blessings to you Jo this Fathers day and although your "Earthling" fathers have not always been there for you - There is a wonderful man upstairs who will never let you down xx I found him when my heart was raw.. I hope you do too!

Jo said...

Thank you for your kindness. In the last 8 years, my beloved Father.in.law has more than made up for the fact that I've had no father figure in my life since I was born though it was something I didn't miss because I never knew what it was like to have one to begin with! And I guess you can say that my mother & nana were present enough so that I wouldn't even wonder about it. Thanks for dropping by!

Lisa said...

What a marvelous way to deal with all of the issues that are bound to come up when you think of your father. Sending a hug your way, Jo!

Jo said...

Thank you so much Lisa! :o)