If We Were Having Coffee // Meeting the Man I Wish I’d Known

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

I apologize for the later than usual meeting. I was out celebrating Father’s day with my girlfriend’s family. Initially, the plan was to do a bit of fishing and have a few beers by the water, but the weather has taken a turn toward cooler temperatures and rain moved in. So, we decided to have the beers and do a bit of gaming at the Dave and Buster’s arcade instead. It’s a strange place for her father to have chosen for his celebratory meal. I suspect my girlfriend’s teenaged brother might have had something to do with it.

My own father is busy working, so we’re going to meet up later in the week at our favorite Mongolian grill downtown.

Wait, before I get too far into my update, pull up a chair, let me brew us a warm cup of coffee to go with the pouring rain. There, now let’s talk about last week!

“All I do is drink coffee and say bad words.”

— twinkleofafadingstar

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that something big and sad happened to me, to my family, this weekend and I don’t really know how to begin to explain it.

My mother’s father passed away.

Late Friday night, after I’d gone out for dinner and a movie with my girlfriend, my mother called to say she’d heard from the nursing home her father was at that his health had declined sharply in the last 24 hours. He’d refused his breakfast, his lunch, his medication, water, and his dinner, and then he felt tired, and then he stopped responding to the caregivers.

My mom wanted to go see him. She wanted to convince him to let the nurses give him morphine, to calm him and help him breathe better, but she didn’t want to go alone. She was afraid of the condition she would find him in. So, we all went. It was late and when we arrived father was still asleep. She tried to wake him, letting him know she was there, rubbing his chest and speaking to him, telling him that his children loved him, but he wouldn’t wake up.

We left with the intention that my mother would check on him the following day, but within minutes of us getting home, my mom called to let me know the nursing home had just phoned to tell her he had passed away.

My mother was in shock, but we all agreed that it was a good thing that we’d gone to see him. I believe one of the greatest kindnesses we can offer in life is to comfort another when they die. I’m happy that in his final moments on this earth he was able to hear the voice of his daughter telling him she was there and that he was loved.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have mixed emotions about his passing. It’s sad obviously but this man was my grandfather by blood only and in no other sense would I call him that. He has never shown me any affection or let me know that he considered me to be his granddaughter in any sense of the word at all. I barely knew the man and what little I did know wasn’t good.

I know he was often abusive and held deeply racist convictions. He disowned my mother when she became pregnant with me because my father is a black man. I wasn’t welcome in his home and was never acknowledged by him or my mothers extended family until a few years ago when he reached out of what I assume was a sense of guilt after his wife passed. No apologies or explanations were ever offered. My mother never fully forgave him but gave into a sense of obligation the older and more dependant on other others he became. He was her only father after all.

In the last few weeks, his health declined to a point where he could not return to the home he’d lived in for 50+ years and plans were made to sell the place and his belongings to pay for what we all thought would be long-term care.

I spent a day helping my mother go through his home and found he was actually quite intelligent, accomplished, and talented man.

I found rolls of blueprints from his architectural work around the city and oil paintings he’d done in his spare time. I found wooden boxed filled with medals he’d received in the military, including a purple heart! I found cabinets full of files, notes, and correspondences he’d gathered and organized while attempting to document a complete history of our family. I found books on gardening, architecture, and military strategy. I found boxes of photos he’d taken of his own children, stored and cared for with love.

I found a man who I, if he had been able to see me as part of his family, I might have looked up to, might have loved, and who might have helped cultivate interests, passions, and talents in me that I now know we both shared.

Since then I’ve been obsessing over how much was lost because of all the hate in him. We might have been close. He might have liked me, been proud of me, been fulfilled by my existence knowing a bit of him had been passed on. Instead, there are so many unresolved hurts and unanswered questions and a hole in all our lives where he should have been.

I’ve asked to look over his files and notes, the work on our family history and I may get some of his blueprints. I grabbed a few books and even some paints and canvases from the house too. I’m not sure why I need these things of his now. Maybe I hope to finally get to know a version of this man who could have been a real grandfather to me.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I wanted to talk about something else now.

I would tell you that here in Colorado this weekend marks our annual two-day Pridefest celebration. Usually, I try to go downtown on the Sunday of Pride weekend to watch the parade but trying to that and still celebrate and Father’s Day just stresses us out and leaves us feeling guilty. Guilty for cutting into dad’s day and guilty for not being as out and proud and supportive of our community as we should.

This year we did things a little differently, We gathered a couple of friends and went downtown to celebrate our gay selves a day early and even though I missed the parade this year I’m glad we were able to spend all the time we needed to with other gay, lesbian, trans, queer, and non-binaries like ourselves.

It’s important to recognize the history and acknowledge the work left to do in our great revolution of love. So many have been lost along the way. So many have been hurt and abandoned along the way. So many feel so alone, still. Pride means more than just dressing up and hooking up. It’s a time to regain our strength and our redouble our efforts. It’s a time to remember why we are here and why it matters. No one should ever be so afraid or so ashamed of who they are as many of us have been forced to feel.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that healthwise I’m doing okay, but my energy is sorely limited anymore. Frustratingly limited! I’m still jogging two miles every morning—now at the high school track up the street—and doing 100 squats before work but that leaves very little left for anything else, especially for writing.

Not that I haven’t been writing at all, just that I haven’t got the energy finishing, editing, or working up the courage to publish anything. I’m hoping to change that this week.

When I’m not running, working, writing, or napping, I’ve been reading again. I finally finished the book that has plagued me and made me a failure and quitter time and time again, The Odyssey by Homer. I read the whole thing, and to be honest with you, I’m not convinced it was worth the effort. I’ll be sharing all my thoughts on the epic tale with you very soon.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have talked way too much. I can tell the light outside is fading fast, and the clock is counting down to my bedtime. The house is still a mess, but it’s far too late to do anything about it now. All I can do now is emotionally prepare myself for the work week ahead and try to get enough sleep.

I hope you had a productive week. I hope that you were able to celebrate the day with your father and if you are one yourself, I wish you a very Happy Father’s Day, and I hope you know how much you mean to the lives of those you helped bring into this world and raise.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Featured image via domestikate

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Lisa

Hello! I'm an aspiring writer fascinated by the human condition. I blog at zenandpi.com but you can also find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. Consider signing up for my newsletter or supporting what I do by sharing a cup of virtual coffee. Thanks :)

4 thoughts on “If We Were Having Coffee // Meeting the Man I Wish I’d Known”

  1. Aren’t families just SO complicated? I’ve got an Aunt that I’m wanting less and less to do with. Mainly because she’s one of those people that came on Facebook and just believes everything! It’s brought out this horrible racist side of her. Although she’s kind too me, I just don’t want to…not not deal with her anymore. She also (well I thought) has this big heart and it’s really odd how mean and uninformed I now find her.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel you on the bringing-out-a-horrible-racist-side thing. I find it bizarre that I’d never heard my parents say the “n” word when I was a kid (heard it first in my family from the “uber-christian, church every Sunday” uncle and cousins when I was about 12–shocked me). It’s strange because suddenly when I was about to graduate high school, I started hearing all these racist things coming out of their mouths, and the name calling! It’s as if they figured I was old enough that the filters on their real thoughts and speech could come off and I’d understand it as truth.

      Makes me wonder, though, why they didn’t just say those things all the time I was growing up, if it was “the truth” and all…hmm…

      I’m an inch away from quitting Facebook for good. I’m only on there 5 minutes a week to check in and see if a last-minute job opening popped up for one job, and that’s it, anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hugs to you, darlin’, in your search for answers. It’s hard to say what motivates someone, and that he made you feel so horrible all your life is just–ugh! I can’t understand how someone can rationalize treating a child like that just because they were born.

    Be good to yourself and hope you find something good to cling to in all that. Maybe you’ll find something that’ll teach us all something that needs to be learned and acknowledged (go for that Nobel Peace Prize!)

    Like

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