Slowly, my father's layers began to unravel. He was handicapped in more ways than one. My father merely brought home the bacon. My mother did everything else. She wrote the money orders and checks, she withdrew the money from the bank, she prepared all the meals, she washed the clothes for the entire household, she was the true backbone of the family.
My father was handicapped without my mother. She was still alive but visibly weak and incapable of carrying out her daily routine. On several occasions, she asked me to tend to my father. He wasn’t the type who would willingly turn to his children for aid (though he believed that his kids were obligated by blood to be of assistance).
As I walked into the apartment, I saw my father sitting at the dinning room table with a frustrated look on his face. The cause of his frustration lay in front of him. I asked what he was filling out and if he needed help. He barked at the gesture, so I kept it moving and proceeded to walk toward the bedroom where my mother rested. After confirming that she didn’t need anything, I informed her about what dad was doing. She asked me to go look over his shoulder to make sure that he was filling out the paperwork accurately, and I did.
My father was sitting at the head of the dinning room table. I figured that he had already made a mistake. I spotted a bottle of whiteout near him. It wasn’t on the table when I had entered the apartment. The microwave was on top of the cart behind my father, so I proceeded to heat up some leftovers while glancing over my father’s shoulder. He noticed that I was looking and asked what I wanted. I replied by shacking my head to say nothing and then ate my dinner in my room.
When my mother was hospitalized, my father had no choice but to ask for help. I do recall a degree of reluctance at first, but eventually he was able to ask without hesitation. He needed help using the microwave and the washing machine. He didn’t know how to use either one. He really didn’t.
During that time, my father made a point of expressing his affection for my mother at every opportunity. I wasn’t accustomed to these displays of love. My father was never an emotional person, especially not emotional toward my mother. As he did with most things, my father took my mother for granted, but once her illness began to take a toil on her physically, my father’s perception changed. He actually saw my mother. He knew that she was there all before but he never really saw her! It took cancer to open his eyes, if only slightly, to the fact that life is fleeting and that no person or moment should be taken granted.
Do not get me wrong. I’m in no way denying the fact that my father loved my mother. After all, love is only as good as the lover. I strongly believe that a person can deeply love someone yet betray the subject of his or her affection. The greater the person, the greater is the quality of his or her love and the greater is the manifestation of that love.
My father’s only remaining layer unraveled right before my mother died. The rock, the alpha-male who ruled his brood with an iron fist, broke down on his recliner as reality engulfed him. He was losing his wife of 44 years, losing the mother of his four children, losing the person who had fulfilled his every whim without question, losing the subject of his innumerous insults, losing the only woman who would be able to bear his demeanor. He was losing and because of that acknowledgment of loss all that remained was regret.
The Daddy' Trilogy