(Continuation of the post-Angels & Dreams…)
As his life became whole, I was starting to fall apart. Fifteen is a difficult time to lose a parent, anytime really is, but it could have been worse. I am so grateful for the time my father and I had together. It was long enough to feel I really knew and understood him. I have many memories and he is a significant piece of who I am. For this I will forever be grateful and honored.
In some ways I felt relieved my father was not around during my adolescence. Being a teenage girl and having my strict, confrontational father meeting new boyfriends and acquaintances would have made life a lot more frustrating and stressful. There would have probably been arguments followed-up by more silent treatments. Who knows how I would have reacted to his rules and authority. There’s a chance my rebellion would have persisted fervently, and led to more troubles and regrets. He was not there to judge me and my choices, and my mother was much more open-minded and less confrontational; yet still strict in her own ways. She was also adjusting to an unexpected new life, grief, and depression.
This allowed me more freedom. I think it was a good thing in many ways. I didn’t then and still don’t like people telling me what to do. Some people perceive these direct suggestions as sound judgement looking out for their best interests, depending on who it comes from, but I don’t really take it well from anyone. I will follow guidelines and do what is expected in school and work situations, but I do not like being told what my opinions should be or who I should/shouldn’t like. My natural instinct is to resist when someone appears to be trying to take ownership of me or gets too pushy. This is something my dad, by the time I was 15, had started to contend with. It was bound to happen many more times during my high school years, until I eventually moved out of the house; possibly even after that. My father was protective and blunt. He would have done and said things that I did not like; as do all fathers.
It is uncertain how our relationship would have suffered or blossomed over the teenage years of my life. I can’t say for sure what our bond would be like today if my father was still here. It is unknown. The one thing I do know is that I have not always agreed with my mother, and I still don’t see eye to eye with her on certain family issues which continue to frustrate and disappoint me from time to time. Yet, I am not one to cut off relationships, especially with the people who are dearest to me. There is always the ability to talk about issues and resolve or move passed them. She is my mother and loves me unconditionally, so I will always work through any troubles we may have. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all of my siblings.
Our small immediate family has suffered more than I would have liked since my father has died. There has been turmoil, hard feelings, and a distance driven between all of my siblings and I for different reasons. I do believe if my father was still alive, he could have been the mediator, the voice of reason that could have prevented such a separation between the children and wife he adored. He was the oil in the machine that adds fluency to the mechanics so it can run smoothly. Without him here, there is now constant friction.
Every one of us remembers our various childhoods differently. My brother suffered sexual abuse at a young age and this has led to years of disobedience, volatility, arguments, prison sentences, and distrust. He felt my sister was favored by my father and my sister feels like he was favored by my mother. I was lucky enough to be much younger than both of them and, in many ways, grew up as an only child. My parents devoted a lot of their time to me. Yet, a lot of my mother’s energy and time, both mentally and physically, was and still is devoted to my brother. I have been told there is always a needy child in a family that will require the most attention and help throughout most of their life. That will always be him; at least as long as my mother is alive.
Yet, becoming a mother, myself, to two children who are very different in their needs, actions, and desires has reconstructed my perspective on the relationship of my mom and brother. There is a connection, intimate and deep, that a mother has with her children. There is a devotion from the time we commit to nurturing a living being within ourselves that doesn’t allow us to detach from them just because they continue to mess up over and over again. I am not saying I would make all of the same decisions my mother has made, but I am not her and I have never walked in her shoes. My life is mine. There is so much that composes us inside; our thoughts, behaviors, reactions, and the decisions we make as individuals and parents. My parents were a couple, working together, bouncing thoughts off of one another, attempting to work through parental dilemmas as partners. Sometimes in the form of arguments and with tears being shed, but in the end supporting each other and working through the trials and tribulations. Then that was ripped out of my mother’s life; no warning, no preparation allowed. The game plan is scratched and life becomes one mind making difficult choices about the children she created with someone else, all by herself; in a matter of moments. Thirty years of teamwork switched to a team of one, overnight.
There are times I get frustrated with the relationship my mom has with my brother, concerned she is being manipulated or taken advantage of. It is not easy to work through these emotions, wishing my father was here to talk to and bring some balance into the situations that arise. Yet, I do have my husband; a friend, partner, and companion who is now my voice of reason and fills this void for me as much as I could expect. No one can replace a person, especially my father, but a soulmate is the next best thing. My heart is still torn, but it has been stitched back together as warily as possible. I am forever grateful for my support system. I also have the perspective to realize, it could all change abruptly one day; just as it did for my mother. I try not to fear the possibility, but it is something that is ever present in the back of my mind.