Monday, June 24, 2013

Death walks among us.

I know - maudlin title. 

But he does.

He did especially on Friday.
Most of you don't know the feelings and heart behind the relationship (or lack thereof) between myself and the stepfather.

He met my mom when I was 2 (I was living with my grandparents), and married her when I was four (and my sister just four months). 

He was an alcoholic and an abusive one. It was "my job" to look out for my sister (because there were more important things to do -- drink beer, smoke pot, etc.). If she got hurt or in trouble, I got the beating.

And I'm not talking about a spanking. I'm talking full-on, grab what you can find (normally, it was his leather belt; hangers, flyswatters, wooden spoons, and a specially-made paddle out of a canoe oar all made their appearances), and beat the shit out of me. Don't get me wrong, she got hit, but not near as often or as violently as I did. There were many times that welts and bruises prevented sitting. 

Once, when I was young, I remember getting into trouble and being grounded from the television...but made to sit in front of it with my forehead on the console of it (it was an ancient one).

I couldn't practice my trumpet because "it's too loud, and you're not playing music." I was allowed two sports -- soccer and basketball. Volleyball and softball were out of the question because they cost more money. Creativeness was squashed -- "You won't amount to anything." I don't remember him coming to any sporting events--they cut into his drinking time.

When we went on float trips during the summer, since I was the oldest, I had to paddle the canoe, because "someone has to have dry hands to open cans." Fetching beers was another 'favorite'.

Crying over anything earned you a beating. Grades didn't impress him; neither did the coveted spot of being songleader for your class when it was your grade's turn to do all of the readings and such at Mass. "You can't sing and you're stupid."

"You're the oldest, you need to watch all the younger kids" meant that being only one year older than the next kid (who was a boy and mentally handicapped with an extreme speech impairment) and having to corral at the very least four other kids so they didn't get hurt or in trouble so you didn't earn a beating (and it didn't matter who was there when you took your punishment). The only justification that I got out of it was that when the boy picked on my sister or the younger kids, I could chase him down and beat the crap out of him. More than once I was told "I'm gonna tell my daddy!"...and they thought it was funny.

I moved to my aunt and uncle's house because of avalanching grades when I was 14, two years after the stepfather and my mom got divorced. That same year, I found out that he wasn't my real dad, something that I had prayed for numerous times; that my real dad would come to my mom and apologize for his last words to her ("It's not mine") and want me and I wouldn't have to suffer the beatings. That never happened.

After that, he and I had very little contact. Maybe two calls in five years; saw him on the rare occasion when I went to Springfield to see my mom and sister whilst I was in college. 

My sister was supposed to bring my mother to my college graduation, but she was too hungover to be up in she brought my stepdad, someone I didn't want there. I'm just glad she didn't decide to invite him to my wedding. I'd have cheerfully killed her and him both.

The reason behind the title? He died on Friday evening, after my sister made the call as his Power of Attorney to pull him off life support, but they got to the hospital before she did (he wanted a DNR--Do Not Resuscitate). Kidneys had already shut down, his liver was failing (that was due to his alcoholism), and he had lung cancer. In addition to that, he'd pretty much pickled his brain by drinking and crack (yes, he'd progressed from just beer and weed to smoking crack. He had loads of money after his mom and his sisters died, so he went crazy and blew more than $60K). The only thing that wasn't affected was his heart -- still beating strong even after they took him off of the vent for a couple of hours.

He went slowly and still in a coma. I was there for my mom and my sister, holding his arm and hand because my mom wanted me to. I would have been ok just sitting in the chair in the corner, being there for them. If they went down to smoke, I moved to the chair beside him. Only once did I speak to him, to tell him that I was sorry I wasn't the daughter he wanted, that I was someone else's by-blow.

That was all. 8.08pm on Friday, he took his last breath and his heart finally stopped. I cried for my sister, my mother, and my niece. I cried enough over him when I tried to be a good daughter.

Some of you know me personally and know that I am a caring person, that I hate hurting people's feelings and will do anything to help. I think I am more upset that I don't feel bad that he's dead. My heart hurts for my family, but not for him.

He'd been "dying" for the last 25 years. It's finally done.

If you wouldn't mind giving up some prayers/good thoughts/love for my sister, it would be appreciated. She's having a really hard time with this.

The Stepfather

**Edit: correction on birth year. I was putting him at sperm donor's age***

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Be safe out there.