Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Time We Share

A year after my mother passed, my father remarried. There is some debate about the length of his relationship with his current wife, but I do not care to entertain such ill thoughts ...

It was incredibly difficult to watch my father and his “girlfriend” gallivant about town, partaking in activities that he had frowned upon when my mother, his wife of 44 years, was alive. I honestly believe that my father’s actions/behavior took more of a toll on the family than my mother’s passing. I suppose my siblings and I were all looking for him to take on the patriarchal role. We viewed our father as the alpha male, tight with a dollar (he’d squeeze a quarter until the eagle cried), spanked us into submission, objected to his wife working, never washed his own clothes, and was served his dinner and breakfast ...

My father didn’t have to lift a finger when my mother was alive. He worked, came home, and then sat in his recliner and channel surfed while my mother waited on him hand and foot.

Shortly after my mother’s passing, the tides began to shift a bit more than I had anticipated. My father had to take care of himself. Granted I cooked and cleaned, he had to prepare his own meals on those days that I arrived home late from school or work. He now had to personally pay bills (my mother would often fill out the checks/money orders and mail them out), he stayed at home alone (he had retired from his job when my mother was diagnosed). A man who was married to the same woman for 44 years was now alone.

This sense of “aloneness” puzzled me. My brother visited my father every morning and I tried my best to stay at home as much as I could to look after my father, but despite these efforts, my father was alone. When my brother would visit, my father wouldn’t want him to leave and my father would call me while on the way to school, then while I was at work, and then when I was on my way home, just to talk about nothing.

My father somehow thought that his loss was greater than ours. He felt as if the amount of years that he shared with my mother trumped the years that we respectively shared with her. I was so pissed when he mentioned this, but now as I think about it I wonder if there was some truth to it.

For the most part, all of my siblings have moved on and have excelled in their endeavors. Their success isn’t merely external but internal, as well. We have grown spiritually since our mother’s death but my father still seems the same in a lot of ways. Don’t get me wrong, my father is different (a topic for a future blog), but now that he is remarried, I see signs of the ubiquitous male bravado for which he is known.

I cannot speak for my siblings, but I do not cry as much now when I think about mother, but my father literally falls apart when someone mentions my mother’s name; he will sob in front of his current wife without any concern for her feelings, as well.

Do you think that my father’s notion is correct? Does the time shared with a loved one who is now deceased have any barring on the severity or depth of the loss and play a roll in how quickly one can move on?

4 comments:

TalkaboutCancer said...

* is now deceased. LOL! It was bound to happen ... Told ya!

TalkaboutCancer said...

Comment written by a friend who doesn't have a Google account:

Shell,

I am at a loss of words. I am surprised that you collectively publicized your feelings. This is an excellent blog and all I could say in regards to your father’s behavior is that everyone handles death differently. On the other hand, I’ve known you for about three years now and you have demonstrated the true definition of a vigorous woman. You have accomplished so much since you first started employment with READ and each day that goes by I feel honored to work with such a talented young woman. I wish you much success with you book. Thought this comment was too personal to post but I would be more than happy to share, just let me know.

J.M.

Shelisa said...

I can totally relate. A week after my mother passed my dear father was gallivanting around town with different women.

Shelisa said...

Oh and my moms sister seems to think she was more affected by her passing then the rest of us.