June 16, 2013

Letting go of my anger, just in time for Father's Day.

The handsome man, who proudly walks his new wife out of church, is my father.
The racy red head in the simple, yet gorgeous wedding dress, is my mother. They got married in November 1977. I was born August 1978. You do the math. They went to London for their honeymoon. 
Close to six years after this photo was taken, my parents divorced. Twelve years after this photo was taken, my father passed away.


I remember the moment very well I heard he was sick and will die soon. I was sitting in the bath tub, when my mother answered the phone and was told the news.
On the other line was my fathers sister, asking that I write a letter to him, in which I don't let him know that he will die, but rather, that I look forward to seeing him again. That part of the family doesn't face problems or talk about feelings. 
I wrote that letter. A few days after the letter reached him, he passed away in a hospital, due to cancer.
My mother, who had remarried at this time, and I went to his funeral in another city. My mother had ordered a bouquet of flowers with ribbon and my name on it. I refused to place the flowers onto the family grave, which he shares with my grandfather and now with my grandmother. I walked away from the whole scene at the cemetery. I was twelve. 
 I'm surprised myself how well I can see this scene in front of my inner eye. That I can still recall how my family looked like, the grave, the flowers, the church and how I felt.
 

 
This is also my father. As a young stud with everything going for him in his life. Some people say, I look like him. I certainly have his green eyes and the blond hair. 
 But I don't know a lot about him. My mother doesn't answer questions. She wiggles herself out of answers, if I asked. I don't know where my parents met. I know he enjoyed reading, theater and opera, so do I! Did he have other hobbies? I don't know! What was he like as a kid? What was he good at? What scared him? What was his pet peeve? Did he play an instrument? Could he sing? What were his achievements?

When my parents divorced he moved away for his job. I always felt he was a lonesome wolf. Seperated from his family, living somewhere else, while my mother remarried and had another child. My father wasn't so lonesome after all, I was told. Was he happy? I hope so!
I have cousins, who gave me some answers. Not enough to understand what kind of man my father was. And for many years I didn't care.
I will never understand how he could not tell me, his only child, that he is sick and will die with only 46 years. His death didn't come suddenly. He knew for close to a year, that his condition will get worse. And yet, no word.
In the years that followed, when I voiced my anger to family members, I was told, various excuses. None of them explain anything to me or help me understand. 
 I was angry. For over 20 years. Quite frankly, I still am. Sort of. Kind of.

But things change. They always do, don't they? In the past six months, I can feel that I loosen my grip on my anger. Accepting that I won't get answers.
There is no specific reason that makes me let go and sometimes I catch myself not wanting to let go.
Maybe I don't want to let go, because that also means I have to let go of my father completely? That I will lose the image I have painted of my father in my head and there is no other that will replace it? Is a fake image better than none at all?
I hate not knowing, who this man was and with that, not knowing where some of my traits come from. I also worry what to tell my own children one day about their grandfather. Should I have made more of an effort, when I still had the chance, not writing this fake letter, but requesting to go see him? Again there won't be answers.
 With my anger vanishing, I'm left with more questions, but also with the hope, that my father was happy in his life. That he had a fullfilling life, even though it was so short. 
 
For the first time in such a very long time, I mean it: 
Happy Father's Day. 
 

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

Erste Altersweisheit? Es ist gut, wenn du verzeihen kannst und ich glaube nicht, das du ihn verlierst dadurch. Du gewinnst ihn, anders. Warum er es dir nicht sagen wollte ? Du beschreibst es selbst, that Part of Family doesn't Face Problems. Nachkriegsgeneration: Mein Großvater starb, als ich ebenfalls 12 war. Jede Kindheit endet mit der Erkenntnis der Sterblichkeit, grausam irgendwie, aber unvermeidlich.

Liebling nicht jetzt said...

Dein Beitrag ist so ehrlich und offen, dass er mich sehr berührt. Wenn eine Person stirbt, die uns nahe stand, ist damit nicht unsere Beziehung zu dieser Person beendet. Die Beziehung besteht vielmehr fort, auch über den Tod hinaus. Der Tod verändert sie nur. Ich denke beim Trauern geht es darum, diese Beziehung neu zu definieren und so lange uns das nicht gelingt, trauern wir. Dir scheint es genau das gelungen zu sein und darauf kannst Du stolz sein.
Liebe Grüße
Dörte