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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The Story of Me and My Dad: Part 1

I have always been, and probably always will be, a daddy’s girl.

My mom tells me that from the moment her and my father brought me home, me and my dad were close. She says I would cry all day until he got home and she says he took me with him everywhere he could.

My father came from a very chaotic and abusive home but he wanted to do better. He stuck with my mom, in the beginning, and helped raise me but neither of them really knew how to be parents. They didn’t even know how to be in a marriage.

Although my dad was good to me, he wasn’t so good to my mother. I remember they fought all the time, really bad. When I was young I didn’t understand what was happening and I thought it was normal. I thought all parents yelled and screamed at each other.

I think my father was hard on my mother. I know he cheated, I know he left her, and I know he was not much help to her after he left. When I was an adult he told me he just didn’t know how to be a husband. He also said that he wished he had treated my mother better. I think he will always love her a little.

After the divorce I would see my dad whenever he decided he wanted to see me, which didn’t seem to be all that often. Or at least it didn’t feel often enough. I missed him a lot and I was angry that he was gone. I didn’t understand why he had left and I blamed my mother for running him off. She never told me any different until I was much older and could take the truth.

Whenever, I did see my father we had a great time. He took us out a lot, especially around his friends. I remember thinking my dad must be so cool. He had so many friends and he was always going to these bars and parties. He was also always bringing home another woman.

He would eventually start getting serious about a few of these women and I have a couple of siblings from two of his other relationships. Neither of my step-mothers liked me and my sister much then since we were nothing but living reminders of my dads old life. I always felt like they hated to have us around and couldn’t wait for Sunday evening when we had to go back to our mother.

We didn’t even see him every weekend. I’m not sure exactly how often we did but even he admits now that he wasn’t there as much as he should have been. The sad part was as little as I saw him my other siblings saw him even less. I feel really bad about that.

It’s weird how as sad as I was that my dad wasn’t around, for some reason my young mind never thought to be mad at him about it. I still loved him very much and looked forward to seeing him whenever I could. I always secretly hoped he would come get me when things got bad between me and my mom. I wanted him to come save me from my mom who I thought hated me. I did end up living with him but not the way I had hoped.

You see, as I got older the effects of coming from a broken home became more apparent. I began to act out. When my mother got tired of me (the first time) she sent me to live with my father. I was about 14 years old.

I think this is about when my father’s alcoholism started to take hold. He had so many friends and I remember he was always going out, and leaving me home alone to fend for myself.

I remember that he never called to let me know he’d be late and I worried about him a lot.

I remember once he was gone for two days. When he came home I told him I had been worried. I told him he would’ve been dead in a ditch somewhere and I wouldn’t have known.

He told me I didn’t have to worry about him because he was an adult.

I remember once I woke up in the morning and there was a strange woman he had left on our couch and he was already gone.

I don’t know what my mom expected to happen but I continued to act out while living with my father. Looking back I don’t know how they expected I would ever do better with even less supervision and direction than I had had before. I guess it wasn’t completely his fault, he didn’t know much about raising a daughter, let alone one that was going through puberty and acting out.

So of course he sent me back to my mother. He said he had tried everything and didn’t know what else to do. He even asked me what he should do. I didn’t want to go back to my moms but I didn’t know how to be be better either. I’m not sure he really tried everything though.

I remember feeling bad that neither of my parents seemed to want me.

Years later, when I was 18, I lived with my father again. This time wasn’t much different than the time before, except he was drinking even more.

I didn’t really know what alcoholism was or how it effected a person’s health. I just remembered that day when I was 14 and my father told me not to worry about him because he was an adult. So I didn’t.

Then I remember vodka bottles in the trash every morning.

Then he got a DUI. Then another.

Then he lost his job.

Then we lost our apartment.

Then he was in the hospital and the doctors were saying he had to stop drinking or he would die.

He didn’t stop drinking and over the next several years my father went to jail, got into a good rehab program, graduated, and has been sober ever since.

There a lot I’m angry about and I’m not sure if any of it is worth bringing up anymore. He’s doing good, I’m doing good, and the past can never be changed. All we can do now is try to move forward and build a better relationship.

I still love my father very much and I think he knows this.

I just hope he also knows how proud I am of all of the progress he has made too.

Image: A photo of my father from February 1986. I would’ve been just shy of 1 years old.