April 4th to many in the UK only signals the end of the financial year… but its also my Dad’s birthday – a day that makes me feel awkward every year. My dad stays in full time care now up in Scotland due mostly to a number of strokes he’s had caused by his excessive drinking. I haven’t been to see him in a few years… neither has my brother actually. The last time I did go, there was very little of the man I knew left. He’d lost all his weight and become so small in stature that it was hard to think of him as the same person except for the occasional sparkle of recognition in his eyes – a look that was totally David Thom. It’s the small things that bring it home to you. My father never liked chocolate. He didn’t have a sweet tooth at all. I never saw him eat a dessert or chocolate. His one weakness: Maynards Wine Gums or Midget Gems. But here was this man in a hospital bed shoving away Kit Kats like they were going out of fashion with a chocolaty grin. It didn’t make any sense to me – this person who had always been strong, intimidating, who had scared me for so long… he was almost like a child. He did recognize me but wasn’t really able to say much. I’m not sure how much of what I talked about registered with him either, but he held me real tight before I left and that made me feel that my being there had made a difference to him.
I feel guilty… a guilt that has been with me since my early teens. My parents had not long split and I was home from boarding school for a short break. My brother and I had gone to stay with him for the weekend, something that was always hard. My dad seemed totally oblivious to the fact that kids need to eat. His fridge like his cupboards was almost always empty. Ok when I say empty that’s not true… but umm most of the stuff in there kids shouldn’t drink. Every time I was over there I had to badger him into going food shopping. Yeah he made a nagger from an early age and of course I had to close my ears to the numerous gibes about how fat I was and couldn’t I just live off that. It always stressed me out that he never seemed to eat EVER. When he did when I wasn’t staying I have no idea….
To be fair, we spent a considerable amount of our weekends in one local bar or another. I probably drank a stooopid amount of Coke in that time too. You know its one thing to walk into a bar and have the all the barmen know your dad on sight… but when it starts happening every place you go it gets a little weird. Still it was better than being home alone with him. He only ever touched me in public if he was REALLY mad. Problem is I’ve never been that good at keeping my mouth shut and for some reason I had this amazing ability to make him mad.
Anyways back to this one weekend… it was late Sunday night. My mother was due to pick us up. Things had gotten so bad between them she wouldn’t even come into the building – instead she’d pull up outside, the car horn would go off and then it would keep sounding every few minutes until we got out there. I HATED it. Really didn’t like drawing attention to us in that way. It made my cringe every time. I walked into the bedroom to tell dad we were about to leave and found him passed out on the bed. I shook him. His eyes opened and he grabbed for my hand holding on and squeezing me so hard it make my fingertips tingle. He looked up into my eyes and was mumbling something. I just kept shaking him giggling nervously (I always giggle when I’m nervous. It’s terrible) he kept staring at me such an intense look. Finally I figure out what he was saying… “Help me… help me”. His speech was kind of slurred. I got mad or upset… or something. My brain just assumed he was drunk/wasted or out of it again. Let’s face it, it was not unusual for me to come across my dad passed out in various places around his apartment. I pleaded with him to get up I told him I had to go and when he didn’t I turned and left. I walked out on him asking me for help. The whole episode scared the hell out of me but he seemed fine the next day when I called him. He never mentioned anything. I’d told my mum and she didn’t seem concerned. It’s haunted me. It still does. Looking back on it I’m sure this was one of these minor strokes happening to him, a full 4 years or so before anyone actually found out what was going on. I wish I’d known. I wish I’d listened or even made somebody listen to me when I told then something wasn’t right with dad. Hind sight is a wonderful thing isn’t it ?
Today I feel guilty too – guilt that I haven’t been back to see him. Guilt that I’m not visiting today. I’m a bad daughter because I can’t get over what my father did to me. I can’t put aside all this anger that I feel towards him for what he did to me, to my mum… for what he took from me. Even ten years after it all stopped it still feels too big. to many half memories, too many nightmares, too many places I’m afraid to go to. Things that still make my skin crawl. I’m furious that he is all but gone now. He’ll never understand. He’ll never say sorry. Now I’m past mad – I’m just terribly sad and I’m still trying to clear up this mess of insecurity and fear… teaching myself to trust… that its ok to confide in some people.
It’s so hard to keep on top of all these emotions that build inside me even at the thought of seeing him again. It makes me feel sick. Yet I still think about him most days. I wonder how he is, if he’s having an ok day, who’s caring for him today… I still care. I want him to be alright. He’s my dad. You only get one of those.
I feel like a terrible excuse for a human being today. I seem to be failing at so much. I have so many issues going round in my head that it doesn’t achieve anything. Its kind of like a car stuck in the mud – the wheels are spinning like crazy, there’s smoke coming out but still making no progress. I’m beating myself up and its making me exhausted, snappy and so angry with myself and everything else I feel so out of control today it frightens me. When Gadget Guy tells me I’ll be alright I want to jump through my screen so I can wrap his headset around his neck just to make him shhhhhh… I know I always come through this, but it feels like hell. Make it stop pleeease. Just tell me how I can make it stop. So many memories flood my brain – pictures of things in the past so vivid I screw my eyes shut as if that’s going to help me stop seeing this crap. Sometimes I find I’m trashing my head around in some vain attempt to get the picture to GO AWAY! …….I so need to fall asleep but I can’t because I’m frightened to dream.
I sooo know that he’s trying to lighten the mood when he teases, but today each jibe feels like a hot poker trying to brand me useless or failure. I know its not his fault. It’s not him I’m mad with… but he’s here so he’s getting hit by the crossfire… and that makes me a bad person.
The 4th of April really sucks!
There will be no K.S. today as I found out a friends father passed away tonight. My thoughts are with G and her family at this time… RIP Mr. S.
“May Flights of Angels Sing Thee to Thy Rest”