Raising the Dead

If you could choose to answer the unanswered questions of your life, would you?  Or are you the type of person to be eerily placated by the importance of the lesson that remains of the unknown.  It may linger like the aroma of fresh bread or it may jar you awake from a dream, a fully involved car chase at dangerously high speeds headed for a curb-the jolt of your body awakens you.

I had a visit from my grandfather in early August. There is something strange about August. We, my sister and I, knew him as young kids he stayed in California-but he still sends us a Christmas and Birthday card and we send school pictures of our kids from our happy Seattle life.  I feel genuine that I send them to him without any wonder of whether anyone besides him will see them.   He never said boo about why my father disconnected all ties with me or my sister.   I only assumed at two, when he cleared out the bank account on a payday along with my mother’s heart leaving her with two little girls and two diapers that I must have been a crier?   I spent many angry years lamenting his loss.  I think I have three memories of him.  One, the day at the park roller skating on those new fangled skates that came out just after those adjustable metal jobbies with the key and the red leather strap.  He had taken us to the park, I think somewhere in Kent and I skated with June’s daughter June was his new wife and her girl who was really into cowboys and Indians was odd but fine.  It turns out her mother left my dad shortly after that time, for another woman. Early on I was a big believer in Karma and It will forever dictate my actions.  I was about 8 or 9  at the time, this was like the third time I saw him, he took us shopping once after that and bought my sister and I matching velour tops and skirts, hers blue and mine was this hideously brownish rust color that was “in” in the seventies, rust color should never be “in.”  The next time our father was to pick us up for  a Saturday outing we waited at the curb at the corner of our big yellow house staring intently, until we could only stare into our wounded little hearts wondering and hoping that the light blue ford truck, capped with a camper would grace the hill at the top of our street.   My sister went inside but I kept waiting.  He never did come.  I didn’t know I had looked forward to it until he didn’t show up.   Than I didn’t know how to feel, there was a mish mash of tender feelings. I mean, I saw the man as many times as you could count on one hand and I was nearing the age of my daughter now, 9.  He left when I was two and my sister five.   No wonder she is such angry person. She remembers him.  I got rid of all that stuff writing angry angst-ridden poetry in high-school and having heros like JD Salinger to identify with.  I even blamed my father in a very eloquent and cutting, two paged letter handing over all of my hurt, suicidal tendencies and low self esteem.  I put it this way, how could I think I was anything more than a piece of shit, when my own father didn’t love me?   I can recall those moments in junior high, where I’d hold my head down walking the hallways because I couldn’t bring myself to smile, hormones whirling, intellect brewing like fresh Mate tea questioning the world and knowing only half of what I might become with the role model of my life dismally being connected to only my highly anxiety ruled mother.  I wanted desperately to answer all these questions that I shoved aside and stuffed deep within but then the day came  where, I could quite possibly ask him. 

     My father dropped a note on my sister’s door step late one night while she was asleep. At 89 my grandfather finally disclosed to his son where my sister lived. In the morning she called to tell me, guffawing away the tears, as she read me the note.  It had professed many things, mainly how he couldn’t believe she lived so close and that he had looked for her but given up so many years ago.  The most pressing recognition he wrote was that “time doesn’t heal all wounds”  and perhaps it was time for some healing to begin?  Wow, read it again, I told her, half wishing he had mentioned me and half disbelieving that this day had really come.   I truly thought I would read about him when I scoured the obituaries each day with my misguided curiosity of who I’d find left this earth that I had ties to, and the weird fixation on what ailments people die of?  

     I should mention at the advice of a very eccentric naturopath whose name sounded like a Spaniard who discovered another world in addition to the Americas, I contacted my father when I was newly in my career working in media, at 29. I had just gotten engaged and was trying to heal some health issues and as we know weddings make you question the insanity of your own ties in this world.  He agreed to meet me and didn’t mention he’d bring his wife along.  I didn’t realize this would be me speaking to her and him just nodding and shoving French fries at their little one, Gracie. Oh yes did I mention he agreed to meet me and requested the location be Jack in the Box, in one of the seedier strips that exists in Seattle, Aurora.  Not a good sign.  One, I hadn’t seen him in twenty years and two he did this to test my snob factor?  Well ding, ding ding.  It registered at the top.  One thing I learned was never to judge, so quite frankly I couldn’t care less if he lived in trailer, I would have come to visit him, if he had any balls to let his wife quit dictating his life.  What I learned from this meeting was that I didn’t need to see him again, that life was pretty fucking good as far I was concerned and I in fact, had his nose.

     Chapter two, yes two of the lifelong researched memoir, Why did you go daddy?  Or “No wonder I am a lesbian and don’t trust men,” well not quite, let it be known for confusions sake I am happily married to a guy.   I prefer the “So long sucka, You missed out!” memoir but that is the ‘me’ before I learned forgiveness is liberating.  Over the years my mother alluded to a couple of things that perhaps he was too immature and did really just prefer fishing and jazz to family life.   I never heard him talked about, unless I inquired then she got angry and said “oh THAT asshole.”  Or if I was really awful she would say, “Oh you’re just like your father” So, I learned quickly not to bring him up.  Still I would like to give “THAT ASSHOLE” a chance for me to forgive him. The pain has been deep, perhaps like him I feel all things deeply, at this point I don’t know what he is like. I do know my personal worth in this life has become triple-fold.  I feel a message needs delivering from me, perhaps as the writer I have to be. I have a higher urge to make a footprint, change things from the past on a scale akin to Oprah’s resolve.  I challenged myself recently to love me enough for both good self esteem and the absence of a father’s love.  And life keeps getting better.  Forgiveness is worth every last tear drop. Does that mean, I do need to meet with him, or that the mere effort of his contacting my sister with this request should bring my heart to peace?

2 thoughts on “Raising the Dead

  1. Lisa – that was beautifully written. I look forward to hearing what you and your sister decide and how it all works out. ~Karrie

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