Skeletons in Someone’s Closet

February 9, 2012

It’s been a slow start to writing this year but a new baby will do that. Even now as i type with my left hand because my son is sucking on my right, I’m struggling to do this post. A healthy baby and a happy family is a great trade-off. A lot has happened since I last wrote and I’m not sure where to begin, but a new person in the world and the recent and unexpected loss of my favorite uncle brings me to the topic of mortality.

My dad lost his brother and best friend three weeks ago. And despite all of my dad’s cancers treatments and metastases I’m finally fearing for his mortality. He’s been afraid on and off for years, but I was able to tune it out as I was still mourning my mom who never blatantly felt it was the end and did not want his insecurities to overshadow her loss. I remember my mom paying the extra fare to upgrade to first class as a “direct result of her diagnosis” and say that she had no regrets, but she would not share fears of dying. And my father with his seemingly better diagnosis would articulate his fears.

I do not have too many regrets with my relationship with my dad. Sure I wish some things may have played out differently, but we each have strong stubborn personalities and to have avoided certain disagreements would require we each be different people. And my dad can be difficult. But I think he used to be a lot more difficult.

My mother and grandmother have shared some rather unpleasant stories about my dad’s behavior when he was married to my mom. Embarrassing stories that I wish were not true and I ask my grandmother not to mention again. Last week at lunch my dad tells me how he is proud of his behavior and has never done anything shameful, and I want to scream out what about all of the women you seduced while married to mom? (Fortunately he has ceased reminding me that when he wanted to work things out with my mom, she had no interest.) He doesn’t know I know, and I believe he no longer has a wandering eye, or the energy, but I wonder if this is something I should address with him.

It all happened over 30 years and I wonder what questions of reckless choice I made as a youth I will be forced to answer to my children. Then again, I cannot imagine prophesying to my kids about my exemplary life. One of my dad’s contentions with me has been that I take him literarily, and this would be another example of that. To have an open relationship with my dad do we need to clear up events that happened before I started kindergarten or in some cases before I was even born? Naturally I do not want this to be a death bed conversation, but I fear the window to address this may be closing.