I was talking to my friend a few years ago, and something she said made me realize that she knew little about my family life, even though we had gone to junior high together. Nobody knew. I learned a long time ago that people wouldn’t believe me if I told them what was going on in the house. When I was young and in the throes of it, I did talk about it, and that only made things worse, and caused family to alienate me and friends to gossip. So I stopped talking about my father and stepmother, and I sucked it all up, mostly silently. I erected an invisible wall around myself to handle the pain, and became somewhat emotionless as a side effect. (I’m not emotionless anymore. That wall eroded a long time ago now.)
I decided instead of trying to explain my familial relationships to my friend, I’d forward her a copy of an old letter I’d written to my dad. I’d written numerous letters, but this was the last. She read it, shared it with others, and urged me to publish it into a book. I probably won’t do that, but here it is, verbatim and raw, for anyone who wants to read it.
Hi Dad: 12-16-04
My semester is over now and I have a little time to be able to respond to your last letter, however, not nearly enough time to write out everything or enough for you to understand.
I’ll just go through your letter point by point and do my best to shed some light on things.
You wrote “…the pain you went through as a teenager was because of Carol’s lack of understanding teens and her seemingly inflexible stand on so many issues …”
I don’t know if this statement was on par with the many others I’ve heard of late about how apparent it became when her own kids became teenagers that Carol just can’t handle teenagers. Perhaps you do know that it was so much more than that, but it sounds like you have no idea how things really were or you are in denial or you are choosing to minimize events to the point of being untruthful.
I realize that Carol has had some problems with her own kids but, truthfully, these problems that I have heard about sound pretty average. My tolerance level for listening to fluff about how similar my situation was with that of Robbie or Kelsey has reached and exceeded its max. I am going to minimize my use of including Nancy and Tanya as a “we” and, at the risk of sounding egocentric, will use “me” in these discussions because Nancy and Tanya are different from me and they had different experiences. Many were the same, but some were different.
I would have to write a book to get you to understand. Maybe I will one day. The difference between Rob and Kelsey’s lives and mine is like night and day. Carol loves her kids. She hated me. She would not admit that and probably still won’t. Both of you aren’t big on the truth.
Please bear with me as I rehash some old standards. It’s necessary in response to your statements because it’s so clear that you have no clue. When Carol first entered my life, I loved her, despite the fact that she put up chore sheets on the fridge & had our cat killed, amongst other ridiculous atrocities that you facilitated before I’d even met her. Why did I love her? I really had no reason to. I was just a happy, loving kid, despite losing a mom. Most kids would resent their newly single father’s new girlfriend (especially given the circumstances you created at that time) and they certainly wouldn’t be happy about a new stepmother like Carol. I felt none of that. Do you realize how rare that is? I was happy and excited about your new marriage and, in my naivitée, I had no fathoming of the fact that it was even possible that Carol could not like me.
It took a while to realize that she hadn’t liked, didn’t like me, and would never like me and I would have to write a book of all the instances that prove this because you clearly do not know. Gradually I grew to hate her as much as she hated me.
So while Rob and Kelsey may have problems with Carol, it’s maddening to me to hear their lives compared to mine.
Do Rob and Kelsey (now just Kelsey, unless Rob has moved back home) have to vacuum all the carpets on their hands and knees with the small upholstery attachment because it “picks up dirt better” than using the normal upright apparatus? Do they have to wash all the linoleum on hands and knees, washing each square foot one way then the other then the other again before moving on to the next square foot with a bucket of pine-sol water, then rinsing each square foot in the same manner, then drying the floor, again on hands and knees? Do they have to scrub the perimeter of each and every little tile in the bathroom with a toothbrush and Ajax? Do they do all the dishes themselves even when there is a big company dinner? Or does somebody help them? Do they wash the cars, weed-whack the lawn, weed the yard, keep the whole house “white-glove test” clean, jump when the dryer goes off, babysit … all for zero allowance, zero trips to McDonald’s, zero pocket money to go to a movie or anywhere? Did they have to go handout babysitting cards at the age of eleven? Buy their own clothes with the exception of outdated 2 for $3 K-Mart pants that they were forced to wear three times a week with everyone knowing that nobody at school wore such hideous pants … all other clothes they had to buy themselves. Were they forced to get a paper-route in addition and then, at 15, to go get a real job? After all, didn’t they need to buy all their own toiletries and most of their food?
And if one of them did do all this, and had saved up enough money to go to England with the musical theatre department at their school, would they have been told they couldn’t go “just because?” Would they have been one of only two people out of the group of about sixty who didn’t go, even though they had saved up their own hard-earned money?
And if Robbie and Kelsey needed dental work, would Carol ever refuse to sign the dental claim forms that they were covered under “just because?” No reason, just because (certainly not because she simply hated them, oh no, couldn’t be that.)
And let’s say that Carol did tell Kelsey that she would sign the dental claim forms (although Kelsey, of course, had to pay the remainder of the charges) and so Kelsey went ahead and got braces. Then she, God forbid, got kicked out of the house for no reason, and Carol refused again and again to do what she said she’d do. Of course, she’d said that she would sign the forms in front of you, which she wouldn’t have done in your absence, but she had to keep up her masquerade. So you had heard her say that she would put her John Hancock on the forms – like that’s a hardship – yet when Kelsey did get braces, Carol wouldn’t sign the forms and you wouldn’t ask her to. And let’s say that the orthodontist refused to work on Kelsey’s teeth because he wasn’t getting paid because Kelsey had relied on the refund from the dental plan on the past payments, so Kelsey went for months and months – up to a year – with sharp, broken wires poking into the inside of her tender lips that were all cut up and bleeding. At almost every tooth junction there were sharp broken wires poking out.
In desperation, though she knew by then that she shouldn’t ever ask for anything and that nobody would help her even if she did risk the lambasting that would come with asking, she called you up from the unsafe hell-hole she lived in at the time, and asked if you would just ask Carol to sign those dental forms so that she could get the money back and pay the orthodontist so that he would take away the constant pain in her mouth.
Would you tell her, at that time, that she was “living in the past” and that it was “unhealthy for her to be dwelling on such things” and when she tried, desperately to explain to you that her health wasn’t so great not because of “dwelling” but because of cutting wires in her mouth for a year and that this wasn’t the past it was very much the present and that she was still presently covered on Carol’s plan … would you hang up on her?
And did Rob and Kelsey ever have to subject themselves to Carol’s yelling at them, “get out of my house!” on almost a daily basis? Would they ever be the subject of her constant searching to try to come up with substantiation for kicking them out? Would she ever lie enough and be mean enough to get you on her side to kick out your own children? Would you ever agree to kicking out Rob or Kelsey (a) because they didn’t hear the dryer go off and didn’t jump up to get the clothes out (b) because they failed a class at school or (c) for no reason at all. In case you didn’t know, that was Tanya, Nancy, and I, respectively. Both Nancy and Tanya didn’t even finish high school … I stayed only because I wanted an education so badly because I knew that it was the key to my future and in the process of trying to stay and tolerate the diabolical things Carol said and did, I ended up in a nervous breakdown. And you laughed when I later told you that. Not a “that’s funny” laugh, but a condescending, sneering laugh.
You always acted like we were invincible. We were “the kids” so we had to put up with everything and somehow, by being “the kids” you expected us to be immune to stress, immune to daily verbal hatred, immune to daily threats and criticisms … because you were the adult, only you were allowed to be a recipient of stress. How does that make sense, Dad? That kids are invincible. That we can take anything with no repercussions on our health, physical and mental. You have no idea how much we ingested. No idea.
You grew up with a family and you will die with a family. They might not have been perfect, but who’s is? The point is you had people who cared about you, all your life. And they helped you a lot. I wish that somehow, magically, you could experience what it felt like to have no family. I wish that both you and Carol could go to a Twilight Zone which stripped you of all family. You will never understand what it’s been like to gradually see my family disappear, because of your relationship with Carol. How can one woman have so much power over another’s life? That sounds melodramatic and you will do that scoffy laugh you do when you read that and will account that statement to some kind of fault in me. Too emotional, living in the past, feeling sorry for myself … or maybe you’ll come up with a new one.
But it’s simply the truth dad, and it is bad. Why does it have to be my fault somehow that the truth is bad?
It would take me an awful long time to detail how each and every family member I’ve had has gradually disappeared from my life. Maybe I will another time. But this is part of the reason that I am making efforts to foster a bond with my sisters. Even those relationships were greatly affected by Carol and by your subordination to her, but they are the only two familial relationships left that I have some hope of maintaining.
But back to your letter and Carol’s “lack of understanding teens” and the recent implications that Rob and Kelsey and I’s lives aren’t so different: the biggest difference is that they are loved and cared for and that they have a family. That is so huge. You can say that I have a family, too, and that you care about me and that it’s all in my head, as if I’m purposely creating my family-less life … but I swear I am not! I am simply telling it like it is.
How many times in my life did I need some family support? Nobody was ever there. Nobody wanted to be there. And family ties aren’t just one way. The support should be mutual. I have that kind of relationship with none of you, and how dare you blame that on me. Shame on you, as a father. To further dig in the knife of hurt that I’ve gone through over the years by not admitting the truth and by implying blame on my end. If you’re worried at all about the peace of your soul when you do meet your maker, you won’t give another moment’s thought to my culpability in our broken relationship but you will do what you can to make things right. But you won’t. I know you well enough and you have been given plenty of chances. It’s never too late, but I know you won’t do what really would have to be done to re-right the wrongs. That would be “difficult” and you don’t do difficult when it comes to me. You choose the easiest path and then you blame.
That’s your choice. While you may not admit it on earth, your soul knows the truth and you’re only damning yourself. I realize that you really don’t know a lot of what went on. It’s abundantly clear in your letter. But you should know the truth. You’ve never wanted to. When the ugly truth does meet you face to face, you lie about it and minimize it and push it aside. And as time goes on, your denial smooths the rough edges of what really happened and what is happening to make life easier for you to deal with. True, your actions do have an impact on me – they’ve hugely been a detriment to my ease of living to a degree you can’t fathom – I never said that they didn’t, but we are each responsible for our lives and I live mine as best as I can with what I have been given. If I died tomorrow I would die knowing that. You, however, will die knowing that you consciously brought children into this world and then abandoned them because it would be too difficult to do what was right. And I do believe that we all know what is right and wrong. I believe that there is a universal set of ethics in all of us. Anybody who knew the truth about your actions regarding me would be disgusted. And, while on the surface of your psyche you don’t seem aware of these truths, I do believe that somewhere deep inside you know.
How can someone have children and then not care about them the way you did? You can say you care, but your actions showed that you cared more about almost everything else in your life than your kids. I’ll expand on that later because I know you’ll deny it but the facts are the facts.
From a completely detached viewpoint, say I was a neighbor down the street and I somehow knew what went on, I would think you were a despicable person not for the reasons you think but from the very start of how you handled your children when your marriage split. Ask any shrink if what you did was good. We just lost a mother and you immediately were out of the house before we woke up, with a note left on the counter, and didn’t return until after the time you’d told us we had to go to bed. This wasn’t once in a while, this was every day. That alone is ridiculously wrong. I didn’t actually mind, though, then, because I was such a happy, good kid. I just accepted things and made the best of them and thought positively.
It was during this “secret” relationship in which we weren’t allowed to know the identity of your girlfriend, that your first mistakes were made. These are the things that you should regret, amongst others. From the very start, you sacrificed our wellbeing and did everything you could to please Carol. Thoughts of how to win her over and how to gratify her (and yourself, in the process) occupied 100% of your concern. You made us do and say whatever it was that you thought she would like, with never an ounce of reciprocation. What kind of father does that?
When we finally did get to meet her, you made us go up to her at her apartment at Minoru Downs and tell her that we wanted her to be our new mom.
That’s not the way it’s supposed to be, dad. A parent’s primary concern is supposed to be the safety and wellbeing of their children. She didn’t want us and she didn’t like us and you made us kiss her ass. We were oblivious because we were trained to be “just the kids” but you should have known better. You should have seen that she didn’t like us. (Do I hear a scoff again – well scoff all you want – it’s your soul that’s at stake, not mine, and you know I’m speaking the truth.)
Again, consult any reputable person. When divorce happens, people are supposed to care about their kids. And before dating someone new, they’re supposed to think about the effect on their kids. And before marrying someone, they’re supposed to ensure that the person they’re bringing into their home is not going to hurt their kids.
Dr. Laura, the radio shrink, even says, as do the others in her league, that a single parent shouldn’t even date until the kids are out of the house. I’m not saying that she’s the authority, but simply illustrating the magnitude of how far from right your actions were. To force us to tell Carol that we wanted her to be our new mom when we barely knew her and to have no thoughts as to whether or not she wanted us to be her new daughters (which she clearly did not and which you should have thought about and cared about) that, in itself, is despicable. You acted the opposite of what was right. You should have been concerned about whether we would accept Carol, not whether Carol would overlook her dislike for us enough to marry you.
How could a person do that to their kids? How could you continuously say, “they’re just the kids – they’ll do what I tell them to do – they don’t have to like it” etc., etc. And how lucky you were to have had kids who did do what you told them to do and who did like it and who never put their needs above yours. We didn’t complain, we just did whatever you told us to do and we did it happily. At least I did. I guess I can’t speak for my sisters.
And then once Carol moved in, all she did was criticize and punish us. At first it was for silly things. Things that didn’t make sense. Couldn’t you see that she didn’t like us and wanted us gone? You should have seen that. For a long time I kept trying to please her, but it was no use. Eventually I evolved from the sweet, happy kid who wanted to please to accepting the awful truth that she hated me and that there was nothing I could do to change that. So why keep trying? I was always in trouble anyway, even when I was a stellar kid. She wanted us voided from her life because we were not a part of her dream. And with callous coldness and with your help, she got what she wanted from the start. She got rid of us, and nobody cared about what we went through. Nobody.
Got your card in the mail. I was hoping that the $5K from Grampa’s estate that you’d said you’d send in Sept or Oct had only been delayed because you had decided to wait to send it until Christmas, but I knew better than to believe you. Still, it did hurt to get my hopes up. Thanks so much for the heartfelt concern that I have a “positive 2005.” And thanks for the $40 – it’ll pay for 1/3 of my calculus text book next semester. I appreciate it, seriously, every little bit helps. So what’s the story with the $5K you said you’d send? Changed your mind? I can’t wait to hear the excuse. Lord knows it won’t be the truth (which is that you don’t care enough about me to let go of that money, despite all that you and “your family” have been given compared to the next-to-nothing that my sisters and I have been given from our so-called family.)
I feel very bitter right now, dad, and I really don’t want to. I’m hurting. It’s not about the money; it’s about having a family. I feel very alone. It’s not fair that you all can spend your holidays amongst each other, with relatives who care – and then you act like it’s some fault of mine that I feel bad because that was taken away from me.
In years past, I was too busy trying to survive to be consumed with bad feelings about you. You and your silly claims of me “living in the past.” What rubbish. I had been surviving day by day as best as I could with no family that showed any kind of actual caring. I was living in the present and I was making the most of what little I had. I didn’t have time to dwell on you and Carol and all that we lost.
Ironically, now that my life is a little easier (because of Sean) I don’t have to worry about surviving. I don’t have to wonder where I’m going to live in 3 months or how much longer I can put up with some psycho roommate. I don’t have to walk or take buses to work and I don’t have to worry about constantly being in unsafe situations. Now that I am safe, I should be happier this year. But I’m not. I was happier in years past when I didn’t have time to think about things. I am very hurt by your attitude. This year I feel much too full of hatred, which isn’t like me. But I feel hatred for you and for Carol. There is so much that I want to say and I just wish you could say or do something to make it just a little better but you never do. You just keep on trying to make the situation my fault somehow.
I wasn’t harboring these feelings until the funeral. Since then I can’t seem to get past them. I have had nightmares every night.
I always knew that Carol was mean and that she wrecked my family. And I knew that you had continuously chosen the easy road when given the chance, and in the process my life suffered and you didn’t care. But I didn’t feel this hatred until after the funeral.
Although I shouldn’t be surprised by anything that my so-called family does, I was not prepared for the weirdness of that event. I’d gotten used to living and interacting with normal people who talk to me normally. Yet there were so many things not normal about that funeral.
When I first heard that Grampa died, from Tanya, it wasn’t a shock. Sean was very sweet but I really didn’t feel all that upset about it. Then again, in cases like that, the emotions usually come later for me. Right away we started looking on-line for travel information to get to Osoyoos for the funeral. We soon realized, though, that of course we needed to know the details before making plans.
The next day I called Aunt Maureen. She seemed a little nervous talking to me, but I didn’t take it personally because I know her personality (not the warmest) and I also know that she doesn’t know me. I never blamed her and Uncle Blair for not being close. I used to always think very well of them. I had tried over years, to be actually closer (like “family” with all of them) but it was never reciprocated. In fact, one time when I went to Osoyoos, Lenore told me that I couldn’t expect them to just “be like family” to me. I ignored her, but she was right. I’ve finally accepted that.
Over the years, everytime I tried to get to know Lenore again (because we used to be very close – she used to think of me like a sister) she would end up not responding to my emails. Whenever she or any of that side of the family would come to Vancouver, none of them would ever email me, call me, write me – never. Not once.
And when there was a family celebration for Brent’s marriage, nobody told me until after. I would have gone. I know you can all say, “well you didn’t invite anyone to your wedding” but I didn’t have a wedding. And I had reasons. The family always lets me down and I couldn’t invite everyone and then not know who would actually show. From experience, my guess was it would have been nobody. Why set myself up for that kind of disappointment on a wedding day? It would be too sad. Plus all we had was a family reception at Evan’s folks’ house and it wouldn’t have been fair to have his mom make food for 10 more (or however many) and then have them not show. I did invite Nancy when I got married to Evan but something happened and she didn’t make it. That’s okay. I’ll always forgive my sisters because I understand how hard it is to get by with no help and I don’t blame them for anything. Even Tanya, who has been very mean to me at times – I worry about her and I will always love her and forgive her. She’s FUBAR. But it’s not her fault.
Anyway, the only one at my wedding, on my side, was a girlfriend.
Speaking of weddings, poor delusional Tanya thought both times that Aunt Maureen and Uncle Blair, at least, would be coming. She thought everyone would come, seriously. I knew they wouldn’t but I didn’t tell her that. She would just think it was me being negative, when it’s really just the way things are.
How can a person move on when they can’t even accept reality? That’s what you all don’t understand about me. You think that I’m messed up and “negative” and blah, blah, blah … but what do you expect of me, seriously? I call a spade a spade. I haven’t made any of this up. It’s the way it is. And the only way that I can be content in life is to recognize that and do my best by counting the blessings I do have. It’s not my fault that you’re a shitty dad. And I think the least you could do is to stop making it sound like I’m doing something wrong (by “being negative” or “living in the past” or all your other BULLSHIT) – you have no fucking idea how I live my life, day to day – you have no idea if I am happy or sad – in years past, you have had no idea if I was safe, if I was healthy, if I was on the verge of killing myself, if I was voted “citizen of the year,” if I was in the newspaper because of the non-profit company I started – you know nothing about me – so at the very least, it would be nice if you and “the family” would stop making ridiculous judgments about who I am as a person. If you wanted to have known me, you had every opportunity, as did the rest of them, but nobody wanted to know me. So shut the fuck up about who I am. None of you know. None of you cared.
Tanya doesn’t seem to mind that neither Aunt M nor Uncle B cared enough to go to either of her weddings. She says things like, “I’m scared to tell Aunt Maureen that I won’t be able to come to Osoyoos this summer – she’s going to be so disappointed – I promised that I would,” which to me sounds nutty. Aunt Maureen wouldn’t be upset. That’s just wishful thinking. Tanya doesn’t accept things for how they are. And you’re damn lucky. She still wants not only their approval but yours and Carol’s – she wants you all to be proud of her and thinks that Aunt M & Uncle B look at her proudly as an equal because they’re all business owners.
And you wish that I would be the same way. Pretending things are not the way they are just so you can die without an estrangement from one of your daughters – but you created that estrangement and I for one, certainly don’t want it. I hate being estranged from the whole family. But I can’t fix it. I can’t help how all of you feel. I can’t help the fact that you really don’t give two shits about whether I’m living in a women’s shelter at the age of 18. It’s not my fault that you didn’t and don’t care.
And as far as Aunt M and Uncle B go, you said something in your letter about them being important. Duh. That’s exactly what is so hard. Family is important and none of you count me in. You are all important to me, but the reality is that I have been shown again and again that I am not important to you. That broke my heart years ago, more than once. And then I accepted it and moved on. Now, after the funeral, it hit me all over again. There were so many things that were just plain wrong.
How dare you preach to me about how important Uncle Blair is to me. Good Lord. As my father, why didn’t you think, “Audra should be important to him?” Like I said, I have reached out to them at times over the years but it’s clear that they’re really not interested in the kind of bond that should be there between relatives. And I never held that against them. I always thought that it wasn’t their fault and I told people that again & again – told them that my aunt & uncle were good people. I knew that there were elements beyond our control that were impeding the kind of “important” relationships that should have been there.
When I got kicked out of the house, I had nowhere to go, no transportation, and negative amounts of money (because I owed the orthodontist because Carol wouldn’t sign those forms and you wouldn’t ask her to.) I moved from one bad situation to the next and that was the story of my life for many years. I didn’t have the time or the money to go to Osoyoos and visit. The times when I did go, it was at great expense. Three times when I went to visit my car broke down, which had drastic effects on my life. When you are barely scraping by, it is a big deal to make even a small trip like that. But nobody cared.
And then the estrangement from Aunt M & Uncle B went to a whole new level at the funeral. You say I acted badly, but as far as I could tell (and from Sean’s perspective) almost everyone else was acting very odd. Maureen was the worst. Blair expressed incomprehension that I was there to go to my Grampa’s funeral. As if it was incomprehensible that I would go for some bizarre reason. This is even more bizarre because both Aunt M & Uncle B repeatedly said that I had been Grampa’s favorite. Why would I not go to Grampa’s funeral? Why was I being weird to want to go? Weren’t they the weird ones for thinking that my desire to attend was weird? My loving aunt tried to convince me not to go. I was introverted that weekend, and I don’t think you have the right to criticize me for that, considering that I was courteous enough to be the one to go around and say “hi” and chit chat with every single person there. Your other kids weren’t trained to display such courtesies. True, it may have been in bad form to not say “good-bye” to everyone but after the weird events and the way people had been acting, I didn’t think that I was obligated to do so.
First of all, I called Aunt M to find out the plans for the funeral. At that time, I was being completely normal and pleasant because I had no reason to be otherwise. Despite what you may fathom without sufficient reason, I am, in general, a normal and pleasant person. And I liked my aunt and uncle. I knew we weren’t close, but I didn’t hold that against them and it had nothing to do with my reason for calling. It was very simple: my grampa had just died and I was going to the funeral. It’s odd that some of you made such a big deal about something so easy to understand.
Anyway, Aunt M seemed nervous on the phone, but I didn’t take it personally. That’s the way she is, and she said that she didn’t know what day the funeral would be but that she would know soon and then she would email me. I said, “Well, you can phone me, because I’d like to take care of the travel plans as soon as possible to get that taken care of.” I don’t know why she wanted to email me instead of calling me back, but whatever. By the time she finally sent the email, Sean and I were en route. Odd? I think so. Just a little, though.
I also got a hold of you and of Uncle Blair, in my attempt to find out what day the funeral would be. All of you, starting with Aunt M, told me a total of about eight times that I didn’t have to go. That’s fine. I understood that you all (especially them) didn’t know me and didn’t know that I was simply going to my grampa’s funeral and that I wouldn’t miss it and that it had absolutely nothing to do with how “the family” thought. Aunt M and Uncle B both said about three times each, “nobody will think less of you if you don’t go” as if that thought had even crossed my mind. I couldn’t have cared less what any of you thought about whether I went or didn’t go. It had nothing to do with you. But again, I didn’t hold that against them because they just don’t know. But Uncle B went further in his trying to convince me not to go. I had already told him and Aunt M (who had already told him I was going) and he still tried to tell me I needn’t go. He suggested I come up a different weekend and just go to the gravesite and talk to Grampa – he said that’s what you do with your mum.
Like I said, I wasn’t mad. It was just clear that they didn’t know me. I don’t know why all of you personalized my actions, they had nothing to do with any of you. Only with going to my grampa’s funeral. Uncle Blair said that he didn’t believe in that – but I do.
I didn’t go there for a “family reunion” or to commiserate with any of you. I was glad Sean came with me and he was the only one who I cared to talk to because he’s the only one who cares about me. I wasn’t feeling bitter about that, though. I’d had a long, long time to have accepted that and it was all of you who were the ones being weird about me being there.
Apparently, when Maureen first told Blair that I was coming he said, “Why?!?” with that scrunched up look on his face. That’s my point exactly. Why would any normal person ask “why” I was going to my grandfather’s funeral in that way? Why ask that? “Why?” – what an odd thing to ask. I mean I knew that I wasn’t cared about or considered a part of their family, but couldn’t they have had the common sense to know the answer to that “why” was simply that he was my grampa and he had been a huge part of my life. All of you made his funeral all about yourselves. I know you won’t agree with that, but oh well; it was pretty obvious to an outsider. It should have been about Grampa and it clearly wasn’t.
So first there were the odd phone conversations with Aunt M & Uncle B when I was trying to get the info I needed to make travel plans. Then we got there and Sean and I stopped in to say “hi” to you. We were just going to stay at a motel, the visit was to be polite and to be nice. I had to listen to more stories that illustrated how distant we were. The fact that you described me as a “chatty Cathy” when I’m so not was interesting because Sean knows I’m not. Then I had to listen to you tell me about how sad you were about Rob leaving at his young age – and tell me, am I supposed to not remember the way you kicked me out when I was younger than him and had nowhere to go? How the hell do you expect me to not be bothered by that?
Over the years I have had to listen to one thing after another, each simple statement so cruel in the underlying message that you’re oblivious to the difference between their lives and mine, and the care that they received compared to the coldness I got. And I wasn’t a bad kid. It’s not Rob and Kelsey’s fault, either, and I’ve never held it against them. Your insensitivity and oblivion to what happened to me is incredible. Literally unbelievable. I mean, seriously, I can’t fathom it.
Do you remember how I got the boot? The only reason I’d stayed longer than my sisters was because I desperately wanted an education. I knew the ramifications that would have on my life for ever after. But Carol was relentless in her cruelty. I know that you didn’t see most of it because she hid it from you, but you believed everything she said and you wouldn’t even listen to me when I needed you so much. You had given life to me and I was your responsibility but when that became difficult (because you wanted Carol and she didn’t want me – putting it simply) you shirked all responsibility as a father.
I had grown accustomed to putting up a mental shield, though, and withstood Carol’s nasty words and punishments for a long time. Then I weakened because that guy I was seeing at school, Shannon, died. That brought my mental guard down and I crumbled under Carol’s harsh, mean cruelty. I lost it. I couldn’t stop crying and I couldn’t get out of bed. I dragged myself, crying all the way, on a bus to Vancouver and went to a women’s help center – a crisis center – they gave me some pamphlets and that was it. I rode the bus, crying, the whole way “home.” Once there, Carol swooped down to attack me again.
Amber’s mom had always asked me to come and stay for a weekend. We had a good rapport. She didn’t know, though, how bad off I was, mentally, at that time. I didn’t know what to do but I thought I would kill myself if I had to endure Carol’s nastiness. I decided to spend the weekend over at Pat’s – just the weekend – just long enough to get away from Carol for a couple of days so that I could stop crying and refortify my mind.
You knew I was just going for the weekend. But she convinced you that “once I was gone I was gone” and I was never allowed back. I had nowhere to go and I was in school and I was hurting, badly. I begged you not to kick me out. I needed a place to live at that time. I told you that I hadn’t “moved out” (which you knew, as did Carol, but that was the ridiculous lie you were passing off at that time) and that I’d had a mental breakdown. I so needed someone to care about me just a little. But you snorted – a sneery laugh – and completely invalidated any claim that I may have had a mental breakdown. Like that was so impossible. Because wasn’t my life peachy?
God I wish you could know what it feels like to have nobody. And nowhere to live. And nothing.
So I had to stay at Pat’s, knowing she didn’t want me to outstay my welcome, but I had nowhere to go. I even had to overhear her and my “best friend,” Amber, talking about me living there. Amber was saying to her mom, “she’s not your responsibility” which hurt me deeply because I had done a lot for Amber and we had been very close. I had helped her at the drop of a hat every time she’d needed me. I had stayed loyal and patient even when she had turned into a selfish, stuck-up, disloyal bitch. She was jealous of the relationship that I had with her mom.
Amber’s actions hurt me more than any man’s ever have. Once she got her boyfriend, she turned into a snob. She moved out of her parents house without a word to her mom, a mom who had been nothing but wonderful to her. And then, when I got kicked out, instead of caring about me, her “best friend,” she tried to get her mom to kick me out. She, too, didn’t care where I was going to find a roof over my head for the night. It killed me to hear her say that when I was down. I had told Amber’s mom that I would only stay two weeks. I had to drop out of school so that I could find a full time job. I didn’t have a car, so just going to interviews took all day, everyday. And I did get a job. At a fitness club out in Surrey.
But after I heard Amber and her mom talking, I couldn’t stay there. I called up mom, who I was not close with because of her alcoholism and weirdness, and I asked if I could stay with her for a bit. Drunkenly, she said, “ok.”
She lived in house that was condemned. I think she was a squatter. The windows were literally broken (like in a cartoon – large asteroid shapes cut out of the glass) and I slept on the floor which had bugs crawling all around, seriously. But at least it was a place to sleep. I freaked out one day when I came home and she was drinking rubbing alcohol. I tried to get her to go to AA but she said, “anh, you just go and listen and talk and then come home and have a drink.”
After that place, Amber’s mom had found me a house-sitting gig for the summer. It was an Indian family and the house stunk and was so dirty it was gross. There was so much clutter everywhere you couldn’t walk in a straight line for more than four feet without stepping over a toy or some other thing on the floor. So I put all the junk that was scattered all over the floor in one of the kids’ rooms. The people were mad about that.
I forget where I lived next. Maybe that was when I shared a two bedroom apartment with four others. Leslie and I shared a room, the guy had his own room and Clori slept in the living room. That was ok for a bit. Then I got my first car – finally – and I wanted to go see how Tanya was doing in California. As you know, my car died on the way home. I called you from the middle of nowhere, just because the nice farm people who helped me told me to call my folks. I was too embarrassed to say that they wouldn’t help me so I called from their kitchen. Miraculously, my phone call was fruitful but not because of any effort on your end. You told me that I had family near there – Rosie and George – and what a Godsend that was. They are so wonderful. Meeting them (‘cuz I didn’t remember them from when I was little) was worth losing a car over. Beautiful people. I stayed there until I got my car mess straightened out (I had to pay them to “total” it.) George lent me $200 or so and I paid him back as soon as I could.
Rose and her sisters decided to drive me home but when I called my roommates it turned out that they were all moving back home. I was stuck. I called you and asked if I could stay for two weeks – just long enough to find a place to live. You said, “yes.” And so Rose and Violet and Daisy drove me to you, at Birch Bay. They were so nice. I had forgotten, at that point, how awful Carol was. It was like getting stabbed when she let into me as soon as you were out of earshot. She immediately said, “You’re not staying here.”
I did everything I could. I didn’t argue back. I told her that you said that I could and that we could all talk about this together. She was adamant, though, that I was not staying. I went outside the trailer and found you and asked you if we could all talk together because she was telling me I couldn’t stay and you had said that I could. And I wasn’t talking long term. I’d only asked for two friggin’ weeks.
I went down to the water’s edge and cried and cried and cried. People walked by and I looked like a total fool because I couldn’t stop the tears. I hadn’t been prepared for her meanness. I’d been away long enough and had been around normal, decent people. I’d forgotten how malicious she was and I had actually believed you when you’d said I could stay for two weeks.
We went to Barmston Place the next day. I cleaned the house, picked all these stones out of the back yard, as you’d asked, had to listen to Carol scream nasty things at me all day. She said, “For crying out loud, you’re twenty years old! (I was nineteen – she was telling me how pathetic I was to not be stable on my own) you’re not staying here! Nobody wants you! Even Pat called here complaining because she didn’t want you at her house!”
I was vulnerable at that time. And I had been doing everything right. Aunt M thinks that the word “evil” is exaggerating when describing how Carol was to us – but who says things like that? The comment about Pat calling – talk about kicking someone when they’re down. Comments like that have stuck with me forever. They cut you to the core. Nobody did want me. She was right. And that same day you came and told me that I had to leave. You didn’t care where I was going to go. As long as you weren’t subjected to the stress of having your wife complain ‘cuz she simply didn’t want a germ like me in her house. All you cared about was making your life easier. Did you ever think, “I wonder where my daughter is sleeping tonight?”
I don’t even remember where I lived next. I have a few black-outs in my memory where things were too painful. You may have heard of that happening (like from TV shows or books.) I wouldn’t have believed it, but it does happen. I have at least three periods that I simply can’t pull out of my memory. For instance, for the life of me, I can’t recall how I ever got my braces off. I have no idea. I know they caused me chronic mouth pain for years. I remember having them and my life up to a point – then there’s a blank in my memory – and then I came into work and people said, “Hey – you got your braces off!”
I know at one point I had to go live with mom again. She threw a shoe at my head in a drunken rage. She had sex with an old flame in the one room suite that I had to walk through to get out of there, etc., etc. Anyway, that’s not relevant. My point about the living situations was this: what the hell do you expect of me when I have to listen to how you’re sad that Rob chose to move out when he did. I had to hear this about six times over the course of that weekend. But for you to sit there, and yak reminiscently about how young Rob was to be flying the coop – what the fuck is wrong with you??? Talking to me in that manner??? Are you that stupid??? If so, where the hell did I get my brains from? I had always assumed that you weren’t stupid, but I don’t know anymore. In a way, I would really feel better if I found out that you were a certified moron because it would excuse your audacious insensitivity. How is anyone in my situation supposed to not have flashbacks of you and Carol’s harsh words when kicking me out of the house?
Not to mention Nancy. She was younger than me. And you kicked her out because she “failed Consumer Ed.” What a bunch of horseshit. Do you really expect anyone to believe lies like that? What nerve. It wasn’t about failing a class. It was simply about Carol not wanting any of your previous wife’s kids in her life and it was about you shirking your responsibility as the sperm donor because it was easier to propagate the lie and push the pretense. Bunch of phoney-baloney assholes. Who has kids and then treats them that way? Disgusting. Nancy was forced to live with Ron, her older, troublesome boyfriend who she didn’t want to go live with. What father makes their seventeen year old daughter quit school and go live with a sleezeball, older boyfriend. Do you have no shame? I just can’t fathom doing that. I seriously can’t. No matter what my marital status was I would never, ever do that to my children. To most people, actions like that are mind-boggling.
And Tanya. Kicked out for not getting the dryer because she had stereo headphones over her ears. Then, once she was kicked out, she started cutting her hair. Then she wasn’t allowed to step foot in the house (like when you were out at the Art’s Club Theatre or at a hockey game, both of which you had season’s tickets for) and the excuse for why we couldn’t let her in was “because of her hair.”
That’s what you said. Because of her hair, she wasn’t allowed to step foot in the house. You were both so full of shit and I see nothing’s changed. I heard the same ridiculous bullshit type of lies coming out of your mouth that weekend of the funeral. You people don’t seem to see the value in the truth, which is part of the reason you’ll never understand me and will keep on lambasting me for simply being honest. Well, Daddy-O, I think when you’re meeting your maker, all the truth comes out. That’s just what I believe. Because it is in you somewhere.
Who knows what happens when we die. I don’t know. I’d like to believe that there is a heaven, but to be honest, I don’t know. I know that there is a spiritual world that we, as humans, aren’t capable of understanding … but I don’t know what happens when we die. I don’t believe that hell is a place where there is fire and you “burn” but I do believe that it has more to do with being at peace in your soul. You won’t be. That’ll be your hell. And you can blame me for my stinky attitude all you want, but that’s not going to help your soul in the end. It’ll hurt it.
Me? Because of your actions, I’m dealt the poop of having to resent you. Of living a life knowing that the people who brought me into this world abandoned me. Of living a family-less life (which is hard, and which often brings sadness) but I have to accept that and I can still be at peace with who I am, because I know that these things aren’t my fault. I will meet my maker with a clean conscience, and that’s the best I can do.
I’ve seen your will. It was on your desk one day, way back when. Unless you’ve changed it since, everything will go to Carol. Carol, who was the villain in all this, will inherit all of her parents’ estate (and you had once told me that Bud had more money than Grampa, that he just didn’t show it off as much) – so she will inherit a fortune vaster than Grampa’s (and I have an idea what Grampa was worth because, as you’d noted, he wasn’t introverted about such things) plus you inherited roughly half of Grampa’s estate and 100% of what you got from Grampa will go to Carol. Is that something I should be “positive” about? When you read a novel, do you feel good when the bad character gets everything they wanted and the good guy gets burned? The worst of it all, for me, was losing my family.
So Rob and Kelsey will ultimately be rich from all Bud & Glad’s fortune and from about ½ of Grampa’s. but more than that, they grew up with a family who helped them, cared for them, supported them, and fostered their goals. They will never have to worry about how they are going to live. They have been given so much more than me, physically and mentally … and yet you keep saying things as if their plights are the same as mine.
You made an inane comment about how you couldn’t have bought me a car. As if that was the issue. That is so far from reality. It’s so much more than not buying us cars. You refused to let me get my learner’s permit when I begged you. You said that you didn’t want me to drive. Great. I was still under age to get my license without parental consent at the time I was kicked out of the house. Then I was stuck having to take the bus and walk wherever I had to go. Often I had to transfer buses three times, and walking late at night in dangerous areas of Surrey was a daily occurrence.
When I lived in that condemned house in Langley with mom, I had to walk to the fitness club in Surrey because I had to open it up at 6 AM and there was no bus route operating early enough that would get me there. I literally had to leave around 3 something in the morning and walk through Langley and Surrey in the middle of the night. People were known to have gotten attacked in that area. But I had no choice. One time a cop car pulled up beside me and asked me what I was doing. They must have thought I was a street-walker because who else would be walking that road at that time of night. I told them I was walking to work and asked for a ride but they drove off. That’s how family-less scummy street-walkers get treated.
It took a long time before I had the money to buy a car. And then I also needed lessons because you hadn’t thought we should know how to drive. I looked in the yellow pages and could only afford the cheapest lessons. I paid for 4 one-hour lessons. The lady who was my teacher was a hippy who literally was painting her toenails in the passenger seat while I was driving. All they had time to teach was the course that the motor vehicle inspectors made you drive for your driving test. I knew how to do that, but not much more.
I didn’t know anything about my car other than it needed gas. Tell me, what all did you tell Rob about driving and cars? Did you let him get a learner’s permit? Did you, ever, take him out driving? Did you buy him lessons? Did you tell him that cars need oil and other fluids? Don’t bother replying because it’s clear that you don’t know what the truth is, for whatever reason. Sure, you care the same for all your kids. And I must be just a big ol’ blob of negative thinking, that’s all. You really expect me to just nod and agree when you say you care for us all equally. Rob and Kelsey have everything and they will live their lives fully, having everything. I have nothing from my family. No warm fuzzies only memories of hearing “nobody wants you” and of seeing that displayed in concrete actions that can’t be denied. Why the hell should I pretend the truth is not the truth just so you can go to your deathbed without “an estrangement?” The truth is still there, regardless.
The simplest thing about me that you can’t grasp is that I can’t deny the truth. I can’t pretend things are different than they are. I can’t reshape the past into something it wasn’t. It’s not in my nature.
Another time, you had the nerve to brag to me about Robbie’s college plans and how proud you were of him. No conception of the opposite treatment you’d bestowed on me. Besides the fact that when I begged you to let me stay at home, initially, so that I could go to school, you were a total asshole and yelled at me like a big ogre and scoffed at my feelings.
Before that, knowing that I was an A student, you already had an inkling way back when that life would be easier if your girls were out of sight, out of mind. Then Carol would get off your back. And if only it would be of our own volition then you wouldn’t even have to deal with the associated guilt. So you told me, while I was in high school and trying to plan for a career, getting good grades, that I should just get a job after high school and enter the work force. Nice. I didn’t say anything because I knew why you were saying that and it was ridiculous to try to talk to you about it. How could you say that to your kid? Did you say the same thing to Kelsey? Did you try to convince her not to go to college? Now tell me again how equal our situations are.
Then, when I did go to college, I pleaded with you to fill out your page of the student loan form. You kept refusing. You said, “Those people don’t need to know that.” Who are “those people” and why does their opinion of you matter more to you than you own kid’s well-being? Unfathomable. I went to community college four times in Canada. The first time I had to drop out was because you had kicked me out of the house. The second time I had finally gotten you to fill out your page of the student loan form. Again you’d refused but I said that you had to and then you said, “I don’t have to do anything.” Eventually you filled it out but you left out crucial parts. I was in school, waiting for the student loan and relying on the amount that had been quoted to me by the student loan office. I needed that loan to live, at that point. I waited and waited and pressure was coming down for the tuition payment. I did a couple of inquiries. Finally I got a reply. The amount was cut way back with the explanation that my father hadn’t filled out the form properly so they had to cut the funding. And I had to quit Douglas College.
Once I’d gotten my feet back on the ground, I tried to go back. I had to interview with some official there to beg to be let back in because I’d dropped out (because of you and your “they don’t need to know” bullshit.) The college let me back in but this time my student loan got delayed and cut drastically because of budget cuts. I couldn’t afford to live again so I had to drop.
Etc, etc. I’ve now been to community friggin’ college a total of six times. Seven if you count a tech school I went to once. I’m 36 years old and I am taking classes with kids that act like they’re in high school. I have to work extra hard because they all know things that I don’t. The kids are very well prepared here for education because it’s almost a given that college is a natural step. They learn stuff in high school that I never learned. Not to mention the fact that it’s been ten years since I went to school in WA so most of that knowledge and those credits are gone.
Rob and Kelsey have the choice of going to university if they want. They’ll have the regular college pals and college fun that most college kids experience. It’s a great part of life. I was robbed of that. Now instead of being “one of the kids” at school I am an outsider. An old person. It’s not much fun. I do it because I have never lost that drive. I’ve had one set-back after another but I’ve never given up.
Now I’m at a point in my life where I have to choose between finishing this long battle with getting the education that I always wanted that I am finally winning after all these difficult years … or having kids.
Will Rob and Kelsey ever have to make a choice like that? No.
You know, I’ve tried to remain positive over the years. I’ve made efforts to be chit-chatty with you … the kind of relationship you want … all fluff and no substance. And I’ve often told you that my life is just fine. Well, at those times when I told you that, it was fine. Fine compared with living in a condemned house with broken windows and a crazy drunk. Fine compared with renting a closet and having roommates who, behind my back, wrecked things and blamed me for it, getting me in trouble during the days when I had to walk across the railroad tracks which were drug-dealer-ville during which time I carried a knife in my pocket and once had to threaten somebody with it. Fine compared to having a roommate steal all my stuff when I was away.
My life was fine. But now I don’t see it that way. You want me to “admit” that the past has hurt me. Okey-dokey. It sure as hell has. I never said it hadn’t. But, in the past years, I certainly didn’t spend my days thinking about it. I had too much to do. Ironically, now I have been thinking about it too much and I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t afford the time or money for a shrink but I sure could use one right now because I feel the bitterness of all that was taken from me. I remember the old days in Osoyoos. Christmas times with the whole family together and the Christmas crackers with the toys and hats. I have in my head an image of an old photo of everyone wearing those tissue paper colored crowns. So innocent then. I never, ever would have thought that all that would be taken away, forever. It’s devastating. Going from that to having nobody. The day that I fully realized that you didn’t care about me was that day at Birch Bay when I’d had to flee from Carol and cried my eyes out at the beach … my heart broke that day and it has never been the same. Are ya happy? First you want me to “not live in the past” and when I say I don’t then you want me to admit that I’m hurt. In actuality, both things were true. When I said I hadn’t been living in the past, I hadn’t been. Now, for some reason, it’s all coming down on me and I am hurting. So what? What are you going to do about it? Nothing.
There were things you could have done before. I did give you a lot of chances. Each time I thought, “That was the last straw” I always caved and tried again, in small, easy-for-you ways. I know you don’t know what I’m talking about. Is it worth writing out fifteen extra pages to detail each time? Maybe I’ll just tell you a couple.
I don’t know if you remember me saying to you, after Nancy and Tanya had been kicked out and you were taking Carol’s side against me and you refused to listen to me, “First you lost Tanya, then you lost Nancy, now you lost me – you have no daughters left!” I meant it. In times to come, I thought you were lucky that Tanya and Nancy still talked to you, but something in me had snapped that day. It had been so clear that you didn’t care about me. Everything was so wrong. Carol was lying about me and you were going along with it, and you were both being so mean and awful and there was nothing I could do about it and nobody to turn to. You wouldn’t even let me talk.
But I forgave you after that … at some point. I remember one time coming back to the house to try to salvage ties with you and to see if Carol would be friends. Here I was, nineteen or so, and Carol had been unimaginably cruel to me, but I wrote to her, saying that I knew that we would never be really close but that I hoped that we could be friends one day. How mature is that? I then came to the house, with the same good intentions in mind, just to say “hi.” She had everything she wanted. She had her husband all to herself and she had a kid with him. She had a beautiful, comfortable, safe house, plus a bayside trailer to relax in on weekends. She’d had a lifestyle of skiing, season’s tickets here, season’s tickets there, etc., etc … she had everything. And I had nothing. I don’t know where I was living at that time but I know it wasn’t comfortable. And yet I was the one mature enough to offer a truce, even though she was the one who’d acted so horrendously wrong. That day that I came over to say “hi,” after telling her that I hoped one day that we could be friends, she got up and shut herself in her bedroom until after I’d left.
Anyway, I’d given you a chance then, for a new start. And it was okay until that whole episode when I drove to California and my car broke down and my roommates moved back home and you’d said that I could stay with you for two weeks and then told me that I couldn’t, in fact, stay. Had you said I could just because you knew I’d have to tell Rosie that I, a kid still, had nowhere to live? Or what? Whatever the reason, you screwed me and it hurt more than you’ll ever, ever know. Nothing has hurt as bad since and nothing ever will.
At some point I again forgave you. There were a couple of times, but you kept proving that you didn’t care.
When I lived in Custer with Evan my life was relatively happy. My marriage deteriorated, but life was good.
You don’t know much about that period in my life. My life in Canada had really sucked for many years. Too much to talk about. I never had boyfriends. After that Shannon guy had died, there really wasn’t anybody. I dated off and on, but mostly my life was too busy and not stable enough for me to want to bring a boyfriend into it. Evan was my first real boyfriend. With Shannon and I, things had never developed to that clear of a bond. Evan and I dated for about seven months. I had broken up with him once, mostly because he was not good at communicating and I was sick of it. We got back together the same night, he was drunk and I’d gone to talk to him. He had actually opened up to me that night and so I thought maybe we did have a chance. When I went out to my car, he got down on his knee and, in a roundabout way, popped the question.
I was stunned and told him I had to think about it. I thought about it a few days and then decided that being engaged would be virtually the same thing as dating, as marriage was the ultimate goal, if all went well. If all didn’t go well, marriage wouldn’t happen. So I told him yes, as long as he agreed to go to marriage counseling if we needed it. Then months went by and neither of us mentioned marriage again. Both of us were avoiding the subject. One day, on the phone, I mentioned it and he acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about. As if I was just a typical woman trying to throw the ol’ ball and chain on him.
I was mad about that. We continued dating, but I hadn’t really gotten over it. As time went by, he was reverting to bad communication again. I could tell he was keeping something big from me. I was sick of it again and on the verge of breaking up if he didn’t open up. A bunch of us were out for lunch in Bellingham when one of his friends spilled the beans. Evan and his pal were moving to Arizona to join the band of all bands. They were going to be as big as Led Zepplin. Woo hoo. They were leaving in two weeks. I didn’t say anything at the table out of diplomacy, but Evan knew he’d been “caught.”
When we got back to my place in Surrey, I broke up with him. As I saw it, my choices were (a) move with him to Arizona and be an illegal alien – which I wouldn’t do (b) not break up with him and wait around to see if he would stay there or if he would come back, but I knew myself and that would be too hard. I wouldn’t do that to myself (c) break up … and there was one other option but there was no way in hell I was going to bring it up and that would be to get married and have me move legally. That left me with the only choice of breaking up. He said, “see, that’s why I didn’t tell you … I knew you’d break up with me…” but that was lame. We hashed it out for a long time … he kept saying, “I don’t know how you can throw it all away” and I kept saying, “I don’t know how you can expect me to wait around, wondering.”
I had plans to go to a friend’s house in Vancouver for dinner that night so I brought him along because he wouldn’t leave. Afterward, we walked the seawall and hashed out the same thing over and over. Finally I said, “Well there is one more option which brings up a subject I’m still harboring a grudge about.” I told him that we could get married (like he’d asked me to do before) but I didn’t think either of us was ready for that. I said that it was the only option that would enable us not to break up, which is what we both wanted, and that since we knew we weren’t ready, we could just get a divorce if it didn’t work out. Wouldn’t be the end of the world.
At that time in my life, honoring the sanctity of marriage was not high on my priority list. I had been used to living life as a pragmatist, doing what needed to be done to survive.
Evan said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” Very romantic.
I had hoped that our marriage would work, but I knew it was a definite possibility that it wouldn’t, and either way, both outcomes would be better than any circumstance I’d lived in during the years prior. It was a pragmatic decision more than a romantic one. But I did love Evan, and I did want it to work.
He had been a full time plumber the whole time we’d been dating. He quit that to move to Arizona. While I was getting my immigration papers done I had to stay in Canada. Before long, Evan called and said that we wouldn’t be living in Arizona. He didn’t get along with one of the guys. My greencard was about ready and I told him that I would meet him in California before he came home because I wanted him to meet my sister. Both of our cars broke down, though, and we were stuck in Atascadero for a bit. His mom wired him some money to get his car fixed and for other expenses and he said we would go live with them just long enough so that he could save enough money to pay her back.
But, long story short, he never got back on his feet. He lost all drive, all lust for life, and became more and more pathetic. I really tried to make it work. I never used to believe in changing people – I had thought you either accept them or you don’t – but near the end of that marriage I had realized that for the sake of the marriage, I owed it to Evan to try to change him. I had married him and I had to do what I could to salvage that union. I knew that if he continued with his loser deadbeat behavior I would leave him because he was revolting me. He spent way too much time at his friend’s house, drinking and playing video games. Sometimes he wouldn’t come home until 5am and then, to ease his guilt, he would pick a fight with me to try to put me on the defensive because his guilt was making him think that otherwise he would be put on the defensive. I wasn’t like that, though. And I didn’t play along. I told him what he was doing and I told him if he continued to do that I would lose feelings for him. I knew from my experience with you that if I was hurt too many times, my feelings would shut off.
He didn’t get it and he didn’t heed the warnings. Eventually, it happened. I didn’t care about him anymore. But I had tried. I had convinced him to go to tech school and take a mechanics course because he liked to help his friend fix up and resell old cars. His friend made okay money doing that but Evan didn’t get compensated. Evan protested, saying that he was above being a mechanic. He’d been a big shot back in high school and viewed mechanics as losers.
Eventually he came around. I paid for his school and filled out his forms. Each week he would complain and talk about quitting. I kept convincing him to stick it out. I was working full-time and part-time and I was going to school part-time. My plan was to put Evan through school and then he could work while I went to school full-time.
But I got sick of his complaining and whining about quitting. I’d already told him why I thought he should stay in school and I couldn’t say it any better the next five times. So finally, I said, “Do what you want to do.” After all, he was an adult and I wasn’t his mommy. Then he was mad at me for saying, “Do what you want to do” and went off about how I didn’t care. I said, I do care and I’ve told you how I feel about it a number of times. There’s nothing else I can do but let you do what you decide to do.”
He stayed in school, but I was sick of him. His behavior became more and more repulsive to me. Perhaps that’s how you felt with mom, I don’t know.
During one argument one night, I finally told him I wanted a divorce. It had been such a relief to get that out and verbalized because I hadn’t had the courage to do it for a long time. I told him that we could continue as we were and that when we were both ready to move out on our own, we could split amicably. (He had charged up some debt on my credit. I thought it was only a couple of thousand. We had agreed to pay that off and then go our separate ways.) He could finish his school and I could save some money for myself.
One of my mistakes had been that I had never mentioned it again. I had been so relieved to have said it and felt like, “Good, that’s done” but hadn’t realized that he was in denial. I guess, he was hoping it had just been something said in the heat of an argument. Or he was drunk that night, which wouldn’t have been unusual. Regardless, he hadn’t accepted our verbal separation and I didn’t know that.
Meanwhile, at my other job, the veterinarian and I were falling in love. Long story. He actually proposed to me years later but I said, “no.” I loved him intensely by then but he was a notorious philanderer and I couldn’t accept a life married to someone like that. I knew the mistrust would drive me crazy.
But anyway, I wrote to my friend in Canada, about the vet and other stuff (bad stuff about Evan.) Her and I sent huge letters back and forth. We were each others journals. Well, like a dope, I didn’t put enough postage on the letter and it was returned to the house. Evan, being unemployed and home a lot, got the mail and read the letter, unbeknownst to me. He was so mad by its contents. He didn’t tell me, though. I had excellent credit at that time and had given his mom my five credit cards to hold on to for safe-keeping (mostly because Evan spent too much. I’m like one of those old people who’ve lived through the depression. I’m very frugal. Sean laughs at the things I do but I can’t help it. I’ve been so poor most of my life, every penny counts.)
Anyway, Evan got my credit cards and racked them up. He cash-advanced as much as he could (got cash on credit.) Three days of this, then it was Friday, my payday. It was customary for Evan to come by my work and I’d sign over my paycheck to him and he’d deposit it in our joint account. He was waiting for that. (I know it was dumb of me to continue sharing my pay with him. I had felt cordial about the separation, and I foolishly assumed he had, too. I trusted him and I didn’t feel right about cutting him off at that time.) Then he cleaned out checking and savings and called me at work, saying, “I’ve just spent the last three days screwing you like you screwed me.” He told me if I ever came back to the house I’d be trespassing. All my stuff was there. First I had to frantically try to call my credit card companies and cancel the accounts. That was difficult from work because I had no numbers and had to really think just to remember the names of the institutions they were from (‘cuz I didn’t use them much.)
Once that was done, I had to find a place to live. I had no money and wouldn’t get a paycheck for two weeks. My friend let me stay on her couch but I could tell I was a burden to her. It was that same awful feeling from the past of not being wanted and having to impose myself on someone. All over again.
From there I had to rent a house with a guy from work. He had seemed okay (although I had no choice, whether he was or wasn’t okay) at work each day. He worked in the video department. But once we moved in I realized he was a total pothead. He hung out with a gang of kids who made our house their pot-smoking haven. I’m not into drugs so it was kind of annoying to come up the driveway each day and smell pot from outside the house. Plus these kids that I didn’t know would be hanging out in the house even when he wasn’t there. I’d come home and there’d be a bunch of people there I didn’t know. Then I had a book of checks stolen from the house and I didn’t know it.
It’s a funny story. A lady came up to the pharmacy and I was filling prescriptions. Pam was at the counter and she brought the woman’s check over to me and pointed her pen at the name and said, “do you know anybody else with this name?” It said, “Audra Ogilvy” and it was one of my checks! I called the police and yadda yadda yadda … but it was a big mess trying to clear my name with all the stores that had already had my checks passed at. Fred Meyer took one that was over $270! Without ID.
Three times I’ve been a victim of check fraud. Weird, huh? Anyway, that time I’m pretty sure it was because of one of those druggies associated with my roommate.
Not really relevant, just thought that you might like to know some things about your daughter’s life since this may be the last time you hear from me. I don’t mean I’m going to go and off myself.
Back to the relevant. I had been at a stage in my life, once again, when I’d forgiven you. I had put a lot of love into that picture that I’d had blown up of you with us girls on the elephant. I’d gotten it professionally done. Point is, I was warm toward you again. You came by the pharmacy the week after Evan had left me homeless and penniless. I knew you well enough to know that you didn’t want to be burdened with my problems so I didn’t go into great gobs of detail. You would have responded negatively had I detailed the desperate situation I was in. That was how you always had acted in the past. We weren’t allowed to have a bad feeling. We weren’t ever allowed to be sad or to talk about a problem. So I had to sit there in Cost Cutter, as my world was caved in around me and I had no money and was bumming off of my friend’s couch who didn’t want me there … I had to sit there and listen to you talk about Kelsey’s soccer or softball prowess and about you and Robbie’s experience at McDonald’s. When did you ever go to McDonald’s with me, dad? I don’t remember one time. In fact, from the time that mom left “the fam” I can’t recall going out to a restaurant with you, aside from when I was leaving WA and you and Nance and your kids came for a farewell dinner, which was nice. Other than that, I can’t think of a time.
Instead, I’m stuck with lovely memories such as:
The milk. My sisters and I had to drink powdered milk that you mixed with so much water it was opaque and bluish tinted. The other milk was taboo for us. It was for you and Carol and Robbie. We weren’t worthy of the real milk. You had some bullshit health reason for that, but it was ka ka.
The showers. Limited, for me to three minutes and only once every two days. Sometimes, if I was in there longer than my three minutes, you’d bang on the door to tell me my time was up. (You and Carol were allowed unlimited showers – the reason, Carol said, was because your bodies were bigger than ours.) Tell me, was Rob limited to one three minute shower every two days?
The carrot incident. You were at your desk and I asked you if I could please have a carrot. You said, “yes.” I went upstairs and was getting a carrot out of the fridge and Carol walked in and freaked out, trying to grab the carrot from me and telling me that I couldn’t have it (I hadn’t bought that carrot.) I said, “Dad said I could have a carrot” and we were tugging back and forth on the bloody carrot, arguing, when you came upstairs, took her side, and yelled at me. Lovely memories. These are things I’m supposed to pretend never happened while you chatter about how great life is with Rob and Kelsey, totally oblivious.
One time you had the gall to meander in your verbalized thoughts with me about how Rob was talking about getting a part-time job and you didn’t want him to. I think he was in college at the time. Totally oblivious, you were, to how differently you’d treated me, as outlined above. Carol was militant about me working from as young an age as I remember, and you agreed with her. One time she even made me quit my good part-time job at The Bay because for summer she wanted me to work full-time. It would have been much better for me if I had have kept that good part-time job, especially for when school started up again in the fall. Instead I went from selling encyclopedias to other crap-ass work that got me nowhere. Literally. I sold encyclopedias door to door.
Anyway, back to one of the times when I’d given you a chance. As I’d said, I had been rekindling things with you and had been warm, more than what you deserved, and then the shit hit the fan with Evan, and then you came to Cost Cutter, by fluke, a few days later. Non-emotionally, I told you briefly my situation. Your response: “Now don’t go doing something foolish like running off and disappearing again.” That was the extent of your support for me at a time when your life was pretty okay and I had just told you that I had been robbed of all my savings and was homeless. You coulda given me a twenty or something. Instead I got advice not to run off and disappear. One ridiculous sentence and then it was back to your ramblings about how great Kelsey was doing at some sport. You showed absolutely no concern or recognition for my situation.
And I forgave you after that. A few months after splitting up with Evan, I began my spiritual path. It was interesting how it started, but that’s another story. I didn’t believe in any of that stuff and was reluctant to. I had always been a very black & white thinker and if I couldn’t see something then I didn’t believe in it. But stuff happened. Fascinating. Anyway, as I’ve said before, whether one believes in the spiritual aspect of Christ or not, he was a good role model and said things that were admirable. He, of course, was big on forgiveness, which was one of the reasons I warmed up again (probably about chance #5 that I’d given you.) We touched on this one before. I was in the Bellingham Theater Guild and was in a play. I sent you the playbill with the dates of the shows on it and asked you if you’d come.
The play ran for about a week and each night, all the other cast members had family there. I was sad and ashamed to be so alone. Some nights I had friends show up, but the emptiness I felt inside was vast because I had no family that cared.
I didn’t give up just at that.
There was also the time I’d called you to wish you a Happy Something or other and we ended up getting in an argument. That was when I was recently separated from Evan and living with the pot-smoker and his stupid gang of pukey pals. Yet I was in relatively good spirits. I’d mentioned something to you about my sisters not sending cards or phoning on occasions and you had pointed out that I wasn’t good at that either. The truth was that I would have loved to have had that kind of relationship in which I did call you not just on special occasions but whenever … but we didn’t have that kind of relationship and it was because you hadn’t been a good father to me. It certainly wasn’t my fault that you weren’t a dad but you always made it sound like the oweness was on me to create a good relationship. Truth was, I had always remembered the occasions, I just didn’t think the situation warranted a card or a call, and I was always sad because of the reality of that.
I tried saying that as politely as I could, in response to your criticism of me, but the reality is that the situation isn’t pleasant. And it’s not my fault that it’s not pleasant. There’s nothing I want more in the world than to have the kind of family that I can exchange niceties with on special occasions. But you and Carol had taken that away from me. Anyway, as soon as the conversation veered to talk of any fault in you as a father you got mad and yelled and hung up on me. That sparked that letter I sent you.
I had asked for a simple apology. At that time, that would have been enough. It’s not anymore, but then it would have done wonders. You had always tried to make things my fault and to hear you admit a fraction of the truth and express regret at not being there as the dad I needed would have changed the relationship we have today. I am a forgiving person. I forgave mom and she went to court with the man who molested me. But she, when confronted with that, expressed regret and I forgive her.
You, however, still tried to reverse the blame somehow onto me and refused to do the smallest of things: to apologize.
Instead, the next time I risked my vehicle and drove to Osoyoos to see Grampa, he yelled at me about my relationship with you, blaming me, and saying, “… and you want him to apologize?” as if that was ridiculous of me. So I knew that you had been up there kvetching, gathering your warm, supportive family together to soothe your hurt at my harsh words. Who knows what “the family” in Osoyoos thought about me, but I knew it wasn’t the truth.
I could tell that not only had you convinced Grampa that I was the one at fault for our disjointed relationship but that I had “problems.” I could tell, over time, that Carol had gotten to Aunt M. She changed toward me. She seemed scared of me. Definitely uncomfortable. And I know how Carol is.
It wasn’t enough to rip me away from my immediate family and leave me broke and alone and knowing that nobody wanted me and nobody cared about me – she had to go one step further and talk shit about me to the extended family. She had the means to do so. Her life was stable and comfy and you all had the money to go and visit regularly. I didn’t have that privilege. Because of her and you allowing her to do what she wanted, I was cast into a world that each day was filled simply with getting by, which was anything but simple.
My infrequent trips to Osoyoos were nice, because I loved it there, but I hadn’t realized how much Carol had conned everyone. Apparently, in later years, she sent letters explaining what had happened with her and us kids. What a pile of shit! If she really had found remorse in any of her past actions then the first people she should have written a letter to was me and my sisters. But she still acts like a fucking bitch to us. She was somewhat more civil at the funeral, just in that she actually talked to me without shrieking … but she still had the nerve to lecture me about how I should act.
Like I would ever take heed from anything she had to say now. If, however, she wanted to explain to me what “went on all those years ago” like she did with my grandfather and my aunt and my uncle, then I would be more than happy to listen. If she ever wanted to apologize, sincerely, then it would probably do me a world of good.
But no, I know her well enough. And you, too, I’m sad to say. You’re both a couple of phoneys who don’t really care about what’s right, but you do care about your image.
Like the time when Tanya was a bum on the streets of Vancouver and she went to a welfare office for help. Since her family had kicked her out when she was still underage, she should have been eligible. The catch was that wefare had to get you to admit that she wasn’t allowed at home. And you refused. You had your pride to maintain … your image to uphold … to a fucking nobody public servant – his opinion of you was more important than your daughter having food and shelter. You lied and told the welfare agent that Tanya was allowed to live at home. How revolting. I seriously feel like throwing up just from writing that. You have no idea how much I can’t understand such actions. From an unbiased point of view, nobody would condone the way you threw us out and turned a blind eye. And you lied to everyone around you to try to save face because you knew how awful that behavior was and you would be mortified if the public knew how things really were.
You couldn’t admit the truth to the faceless student loan processors, to the nameless welfare deprtment, to your father, your mother, your brother, his family, or to your friends. To the world, you both lied. And the reason I make you so mad is that I’m the only one who knows and speaks the disgusting truth.
So look at how great Carol is, writing to my family to tell them “what really happened.” How NOBLE.
Anyway, back to my point about giving chances. The last one was not broken by one straw it was a culmination. I had also invited you to the Easter play that I was in, which ran for about three days. I knew you wouldn’t go but you could have. You gave me some excuse about Kelsey’s softball or soccer game. And in your explanation you’d said something about how you hadn’t missed a game and didn’t want to ever have to miss a game or something like that. You missed almost all of my life, and you had the nerve to tell me that you had to miss my play because you couldn’t miss one of Kelsey’s games. Do you not hear yourself when you speak? I wish that you could tell all this to a shrink and listen to their reaction. Unfathomable.
So you missed the plays I had generously invited you to (given how you’d treated me in the past, I say generously because I don’t think you even deserved to have me speak to you after all you’d done (or not done) to hurt me over the years. You yelled at me on the phone, hung up, refused to admit wrongdoing in anything from the past and then said stuff to Grampa, among others, to get him to be mad at me, like I deserved that, on top of everything else. Sigh. Then when I asked you if I could borrow that elephant picture I’d given you so I could make a copy of it before I moved (because I cared about you and the memory) you didn’t know what I was talking about! Why wasn’t it put on the wall with the other pictures by your desk? What the hell happened to it? Were you afraid it would make Carol mad? What? It must have gone to the tomb of unacceptable pictures along with my graduation photo that used to be on the wall by your desk.
Those things all together were one of the final times I gave up on you. It was so clear that trying to be cared about by you was futile. By the time I went to Grampa’s funeral, I was immune to you and the rest of the family. I knew that Carol had done too much damage. I knew that Aunt M & Uncle B had their own life and a nice family to occupy themselves with and it had been made clear to me over the years that I really wasn’t a part of it and that nobody cared about getting to know me. Once in a while, I’d hear little bits and pieces of things that were said about me and they were so far from the truth. Nobody knew me. Nobody wanted to know me. Nobody was going to know me. Carol had won. More than I’d originally thought.
And I accepted it. I made do with what I had. And when I heard my grampa had died, I went to his funeral. But I didn’t really care about any of the rest of you because in the past twenty years of my life, none of you had cared about me. I had grown accustomed to that. Yet I’m not a mean person, so I did go around and say “hi” to everyone.
You can say what you want about Connie, but she knows me better than any of you and I respect her more than any of you. I think she has a better heart. I know enough about her. And I knew enough about Grampa.
Anyway, I’d started the story of the funeral events from my perspective earlier in this letter and I’ll pick it up here. Aunt M said a number of odd things to me on the phone, and Blair was acting strange, too. But I chalked that up to the death of his father and all, and, really didn’t care how he and the rest of you were acting. You weren’t a part of my life, and not by my choosing.
We got there, and listened to you for awhile. I tried not to be too annoyed by the ridiculous comments about Rob and how sad you were that he was moving out at such a young age … and the comments about why Phyllis and Gordon weren’t invited to the funeral. I knew how important they were to Grampa and he would have wanted them to be invited. He loved entertaining, he loved going to play tennis with his pals, and he loved his friends. So Phyllis didn’t wave at Blair or whatever and so they didn’t go to the hospital or whatever, the right thing to do, clearly, was to invite them to the funeral. You should have invited all his friends. And then those who came, came and those who didn’t, didn’t. Grampa would have been mad if he’d have known that his friends weren’t invited. But it was clear that Grampa’s funeral wasn’t about Grampa … it was about Blair and Maureen and Bob and Carol. Yeah, yeah, I know you’ll say otherwise. Whatever.
Something I find interesting enough to write out at this point, and that will give you more fodder to scoff and complain to “family” about, is how I felt after each of Nana & Grampa’s funerals. At Nana’s there was a sense of peace. I talked with Rose about this after Nana’s funeral and she felt the same way I did. At the reception after Nana’s funeral, at M&B’s house, I felt Nana’s spirit at peace, and I could almost see her face, very large, like it was part of huge, beautiful rose, looming around the ceiling. Her cherubic “rose” image was warm and smiling. At peace. Like I say, I know you’ll think that’s crazy, but that was what I sensed, spiritually. It was nice. Grampa, however, when he joined the spirit world, was mad. There was even a storm that night. Feel free to scoff. I don’t care.
Anyway, back to Sean and my arrival in Osoyoos, (and my poor behavior) since Carol wasn’t there yet the night Sean and I were talking with you, I was allowed to stay at my grandfather’s house for the night. The next day, Connie came over and asked if I wanted coffee (she knows that’s all I have in the mornings and it was nice that she asked, considering she wasn’t my maid.) I was outside with her and Sean when Aunt M came over to return a bowl. She said, “hi” to me, rather coldly, and went in the house. She hadn’t seen me in years and yet she stayed in the house about twenty minutes. Sean and I were about to leave when she came back out again. She had no interest in me. She seemed nervous as she avoided me and walked back home. You can say that’s balderdash (which I know you will) but it’s the truth. I relate to people all day and I’m used to them acting normal around me; it’s quite obvious when someone’s not.
Well, I had a good conversation with Connie that morning. She didn’t tell me anything that was a big surprise.
I had not wanted to talk with Grampa about his will because I saw early on how Maureen and Carol were biding their time, waiting for the money. I heard Maureen say things, years ago, to that effect. And I knew how Carol was. They both did not like Grampa at all. He played people, too, with the will. He used to talk about it all the time. He used it like a carrot to get people to do what he wanted and to be nice to him. I loved him too much to let myself be changed by that. I knew that I needed money, and I knew that unless I gave up any thoughts of getting money from his death then my relationship with him would be influenced by that. So I told him that I didn’t want his money and that I didn’t want to talk about it. So he didn’t talk about it anymore with me.
You’re so mad at Connie but she wasn’t the one to blame. You say that she admitted that she lied or something like that just to rile me up but I think that’s a twisted version of the truth. You’ll understand if I don’t believe everything you say, given all the other bullshit I’ve heard over the years. I think I first started doubting your word when you said that Tanya wasn’t allowed in the house because of her hairdo.
Anyway … what Connie said was confirmed by other sources. I think that when you say “she admitted blah blah blah” she was really admitting to being angry about how she was being treated by Maureen and Blair upon Grampa’s death. They had been sweet to her face when he was around and then they changed and turned on her, afraid she was too close to the pot. You all sound paranoid about her. You talking in a confiding voice to me about how much money she’d been spending on groceries and people flat out saying that they didn’t trust her and accusing her of manipulating Grampa.
I feel totally different than you do about Connie. She was not just a housekeeper all those years for a very difficult man. He loved her. She was his constant companion. For that alone, she deserved better treatment. So what if they spent a lot on groceries? For one, I know for a fact that Grampa had a grocery shopping addiction. When I would go visit in Palm Springs, in his latter years, his cupboards were so full of groceries that the two of them had to give away bags and bags and bags before they could come back home. And even when his cupboards and fridge were bursting at the seams, he still wanted to go to the grocery store. It was “his thing.”
Sure, it’s possible that Connie was doing something with groceries … but what? Mailing them away to her Filipino family? That’s a little pricey and I don’t know how feasible. But even if she did that, who cares? Grampa wouldn’t have cared and it was his money. You guys, in my opinion, had no right to turn on her the way you did and I think you did so out of greed-based fear like Edgar Allen Poe characters. Saying to her face that she was manipulating him for his money. Shameful.
And I didn’t need Connie to tell me that. One thing she did tell me, that I didn’t know, was about how when Grampa realized that he needed to put her in his will (thank Goodness, because it would have been a crime if she’d been left out) the lawyer was wary because of his age, his dementia, and the fact that the housekeeper was getting his money. The lawyer was worried that Connie may be manipulating him and he called Blair.
All I know is that originally Grampa had left us $10K (which is a paltry enough amount compared to what I know Grampa’s net worth to be – however – that’s Grampa’s will and it was up to him. That’s what “will” means. Because of your masking the truth of how hard of a life us girls had, getting kicked out at a young age with nothing and no one to help us, Grampa didn’t know about any of that. He didn’t know the truth, so I didn’t blame him for not helping us more.) Connie told me that (about the $10K) and that Blair was mad about the difference between what Lenore was getting and what the rest of us were getting and that then the will was changed. You’re trying to tell me this isn’t true?
You, yourself, unwittingly confirmed to me, when we were sitting on the dock, that Blair had been outraged when he read Grampa’s will because of the difference in what Lenore was getting and what we were getting ($5k for her and $10k for the rest of the grand-kids.) I called Tanya and that’s the first time her and I talked about Grampa’s will. She, before I told her the amount Connie had told me, confirmed that grampa had told her, and not that long ago, that he was leaving us all $10K and was leaving Lenore nothing – that’s what he’d told Tanya. Lenore had disowned him, after all.
The facts are the facts. Clearly, Blair was mad, as witnessed by both you and Connie and he was vocal about it. I didn’t blame him. He was simply protecting his family, as a good father would. It wouldn’t matter a hill of beans whether his kids were getting $5K or $10K because they shared money and helped each other out, and the kids would end up inheriting it anyway, from them. So what mattered to him, then, clearly, was Lenore’s feelings.
I understand that and I find it warranted. That’s how dads are supposed to feel. Of course, though, he didn’t stop to think of the ramifications on me and my sisters, whose lives would be greatly affected by the difference between $5K and $10K because, partly, we are all broke and have scraped by our whole lives since getting kicked out of the house as kids and trying to make ends meet. Plus, we will not get another cent from anyone because your will grants everything to the wicked witch. So your kids will come out ok, and Blair’s kids will come out ok, but me and my sisters got screwed again.
You say that it was Grampa’s will and none of you know why he changed it, but like I’m going to believe you, given the facts that I know. Of course Blair’s outrage at the “unfair” will was what caused our amounts to match Lenore’s. Grampa was so afraid of being alone … he loved Blair, too, like crazy. I saw a change in Grampa in his later years. He went from scaring people away to kissing ass to get them to stay. I know the way he was and I know that if Blair was “outraged” when he read Grampa’s will, and if Blair voiced that opinion to him, Grampa would have done whatever Blair wanted to prevent his son from leaving him alone to die. Not to mention somebody had told the lawyer Grampa had dementia. It is unquestionable that Blair was responsible for cutting my sisters and I down from $10K to $5K. Your protests are foolish.
Again, I don’t blame Blair for not knowing the impact his actions had on me and my sisters … and I’m not mad at him for not caring enough to stop and think about it. He would have no way of knowing how screwed we were, anyway, because of you and Carol’s cover up of the truth and your efforts over the years to look good in the eyes of others.
I don’t care about any of that. I did what you should have done and that was to stick up for Nancy and Tanya, your daughters. Blair stuck up for Lenore. But nobody ever sticks up for us. Never.
When Nana died, Nancy and I got to Osoyoos to hear, from you, that you “grown-ups” had been mulling over who was capable of speaking at the funeral. Maureen said, “Lenore could do it” and did you ever think once, “Audra could do it.” Or “Nancy could do it.” Nope. Maureen and Blair always think of their kids in appropriate situations. You never think of us. You said, “Yes, Lenore could do it.” It was Lenore who brought Nance and I into the picture by saying she would only do it if her cousins were up there with her. Why hadn’t you thought of us?
It’s similar with Grampa’s will. You’re so outraged at me and so condescending about my actions when a real father would have been doing what Blair did and would have been wondering, why was my daughter (Tanya) expecting $10K and then Blair got mad about the amount and now she’s only getting $5K? All of us could have really used that money. But you don’t give a rat’s ass about us. You just want to berate me for challenging Uncle Blair. How stupid. If you must know, I did write to apologize to them but not for the reasons you outlined and not for anything you said. I did it because I felt like apologizing. Because I am that sort of person. I had confronted them because somebody had to make somebody stop and think about Nancy, Audra & Tanya. Somebody had to, at least, for ten seconds, stop and think about us. How he reacted to seeing Grampa’s will did affect us. And you are the one who should have cared, not him. Instead you like to further lambaste me, your scapegoat of choice, because I speak the ugly truth.
Well, it’s midnight now and I feel like I’ve been run over by a motorcycle. Tomorrow I’ll re-read your letter and respond to anything I haven’t.
Okay … first point, about the pain we experienced as kids and how you nearly walked out with us but couldn’t because of Rob.
(a) The wrong-doing started well before Rob was conceived. As stated above, you put our well-being aside from the moment mom left. All you cared about was your needs and you thought that you needed Carol. You sacrificed us and told us how to act and what to say and made us look like little boys instead of “ragamuffins” all to try to win her over. You never once stopped to think about whether she would be good to us, did you? Why did it take until Rob was born for you to be “wracked with pain” about her treatment of us? That doesn’t make sense. She treated us like dog poo long before he came along.
(b) The pain we experienced wasn’t limited to our teenage years at home. That was a fact that hit me hard in later years. I had been proud of the way I had been able to cope with her intolerable cruelty while I lived “at home.” I had always thought that I could withstand anything she could throw at me because it meant being able to have a roof over my head while I went to school. I always thought that it would be over one day and I would be free of her nastiness. But it never was. Once I was kicked out of the house, I was away from her, but then, because of getting kicked out, I went from one poverty hell to another. And I still always thought I’d get over it one day. Then, after time and time again of trying to correspond with family (like my cousins and my aunt & uncle and even my sisters) I realized how fucked up things were and that it would never be over. I have no family. And she did that. And you let her. That’ll never end. I can try to make the best of what I can salvage with my sisters … but we’re all too broke to go and visit each other. And we’ve spent most of our lives trying to survive that we adapted into people who don’t know how to be close.
The pain wasn’t just when we were teenagers, but I don’t blame you for that undersight because I made the same one, in prophecy, when I was still “at home.” I don’t talk about these things because I do try to live my life by counting blessings instead of curses, in fact Sean doesn’t even know these things. But it seems relevant to this letter to tell you of some of the pains I go through even now, because of the way you let Carol take away my family (you.) Please try not to scoff as you did that time when I told you about my mental breakdown. I told you about the years that I had broken wires in my mouth. The insides of my lips were literally bleeding and all I asked you to do was ask Carol to sign the dental claim forms. You got mad at me for even asking, and hung up on me. You have never cared what kind of pain I’m in, physical or mental.
In my twenties, I developed a sharp pain in my side. It started to come when I’d be under extreme stress. It’s gotten worse over the years. I don’t even know what it is because I haven’t been able to afford to go to a doctor to get it checked out. I used to like running but find it hard because that pain is now with me on a daily basis, as in all day. I should have taken care of it a long time ago, but I was too broke. Now I’m afraid I’ve done irreparable damage. I know, I need to go to a doctor now.
I still don’t have much money. Sure, my boyfriend makes money, but I don’t rely on him. I don’t buy health coverage because I need the money for school. Sean wants to get married but I don’t know if I want to. That’s too long of a story to get into right now. Suffice to say that I, personally, am still so worried about money and being able to make it through school this, the 7th, time because if I don’t then I don’t think I’ll ever make it and I can’t stand to even think about that. That would mean I would have nothing and I might as well give up. So do I go ahead and marry him, even if I don’t feel like it? (And would Rob or Kelsey ever be in a situation in which they had to wonder that? No. They will never wonder how they are going to afford to survive.)
I started grinding my teeth when I was a kid and the dentist told me I needed a night guard because my gums were receding and if that kept up then my teeth would fall out. I know you had that problem, too, but mine started in my teens and hasn’t stopped. My gums have receded so badly now, on my molars, that if you look at a side view of them you can see that the roots are exposed. I can’t drink very hot or cold beverages because it’s painful. I haven’t been to a dentist in about eight years because I can’t afford it.
Those things aren’t too bad, though. I’m pretty lucky to be as healthy as I am. I feel fatigued daily and have felt that way for at least 10 years. Cloudy headed from stress. I don’t know if you know that feeling. Feels like someone’s blowing a balloon up in your head or like you’re in a chronic state of feeling like you only got two hours of sleep. I just accept that feeling as part of my life. I have a blood-sugar problem but I don’t really care about that.
The worst part is the sadness that comes around the holidays. If I hadn’t known how it was, how it could be, how it should be, I don’t think it would hurt as much. Sean, for instance, only had a mom and a crazy war-vet uncle who thought Sean was Viet-Cong, and a crazy grandmother; the latter two he didn’t like. He and his mom love each other, but they never had anyone else as far as family goes. His dad left when he was a baby. But my sisters and I grew up with family. We had it great. The memories are so warm and wonderful and because of that they hurt like hell.
One thing similar about my sisters and I is that we always wanted that back. For Nancy and Tanya, they didn’t quite get to the point of realizing that being a part of the family that was there in our past and in our hearts was not going to happen. That Carol got her way and you didn’t care. I, however, was there too long, in the house, subjected to Carol and to the way you showed me you didn’t care. That day at Birch Bay … that was the day that reality hit “home” (pun intended.) Prior to that day, had circumstances not panned out the way they had, I would still have been trying to fit into the family myself. It’s just been shoved in my face so many times that I’m not wanted and that nobody knows me and they don’t want to try. There’s nothing I can do about that.
Years ago, when I was in Osoyoos and Lenore told me bluntly that I couldn’t expect her parents to just be like family to me, I resented her for saying that. I had been in good spirits then and hadn’t realized the truth of what she was saying. I still thought of my aunt and uncle as the way I had when I was a kid – same with my cousins. I was the one who valued them and I always thought they were family and they were important. But Lenore was the one being honest. I can’t blame her for that. I was in denial for years. Really, up until recently.
Each time I would try to email or write to one of my cousins or to my aunt & uncle (or to Rob, for that matter) it was clear that I was the one who cared about getting to know each other. Everyone else already had family. They didn’t have any motivation to reply to my emails. Lenore’s words rang true. I didn’t blame any of them. It wasn’t their fault the way things were, nor was it mine. If one had to find fault, it would go back to you and Carol because you took away my home, my safety and forced me out in the world, in debt (owing the orthodontist) as a kid. I didn’t have the time or money to go visit family … but Carol did. And before long the effects of that became clear. I’m a stranger to my aunt & uncle & cousins and there’s nothing I can do about that. When I try to keep in touch, they don’t. None of them would ever, ever come to visit me … and even if I’m ever financially stable, I wouldn’t be able to go visit there more than once a year, at which time they’ll just act strange around me.
Back when Nana was alive and all the cousins still lived at home, next door, Nana And Grampa always talked about how hurt they were that the grandkids who lived right next door never came over.
Lenore told me that it was true because it was “a chore” to go over there. That’s how all of them feel about talking to me … at least that’s the impression they give off. All of the above mentioned, and you, like to talk about me as if you know me “she was always the emotional one,” “my chatty Cathy daughter,” “she’s living in the past,” “she’s so negative” but none of you lift a fucking finger to actually try to get to know me. I’m none of those things. I do have my faults, that’s for sure … but none of you know what they are and none of you want to know me … you just want to talk about me in odd ways.
Shirley Creiderman, who I always liked and still do, on the night of the funeral when they were saying “good-bye” said to me, “You’re the one they worry about the most.”
Reeeeeally. What’s that supposed to mean? When I am truly worried about someone, say a friend or a sister, I call them and I find out how they are doing. If there is anything within reason that I can do to help I do it. But most importantly, I call around until I get a hold of them. There were many very bad times in my life when I really needed someone to actually care. Now that I’m not in danger anymore, I get someone telling me that I’m the one they worry about the most, they being my aunt & uncle, I presume.
So if they were so “worried” about me then why did Aunt M not even want to talk to me on the phone – when I asked her if she would call me back she wanted to email (less personal.) I understand if, originally, she and Blair were concerned that I couldn’t afford the trip to the funeral, but once I had told them that I was, for certain, coming, they still tried to dissuade me. And when I was there, Aunt M clearly wasn’t interested in saying “hi” … like I’d said, she’d gone right into the house, right past me, and stayed in there a long time, even though I hadn’t seen her in years.
But besides that, there were all the years that I did try to keep in touch and Lenore’s words were proven true. I couldn’t expect them to be like family “all of a sudden” (she’d said) but it wasn’t “sudden” to me. At that point I had always thought we were like family and really didn’t know what she had been talking about. I mean, we were family. I had never expected an estrangement to develop there and it certainly wasn’t my fault that it did. That was Carol’s knife just furthering the job she’d started.
If they were ever “worried” about me they certainly didn’t show it. The fact that people had talked to the Creidermans about how “worried” they were about me, but those people never called or emailed or wrote to me to ask me how I was doing is parallel to Carol writing to Grampa to explain about “what really happened with us kids.” It’s all euphemisms. In Carol’s case it was to boost herself up and in the case of whomever Shirley was referring to was “the most worried about me” that was obviously simply a reflection of gossip, both scenarios didn’t help me at all, and they weren’t meant to. If anything, they hindered me, as in the case of Carol’s letter right before ol’ moneybags died.
Both her and Maureen detested Grampa. They were both just trying as hard as they could to stay on his good side until he died. And then they had the nerve, at the “wake”, while rummaging through the china cabinet and squealing, “Look at this! Hee hee hee!” to snidely say, “Connie only came to the funeral because she thought they were going to read the will. All she wanted was the money.” Are you that dense or plasticized that you can’t see the truth? It wasn’t Connie who was acting like a money-grubbing whore, it was the two daughters in law. Connie actually cared about Grampa; M and C couldn’t stand him.
And I don’t blame Aunt M for not liking him, Lord knows she had reason … but how despicable to say that about Connie while she herself was celebrating his death. I know you couldn’t see it, but it was so clear to Sean that Maureen was happy that he’d died. The impression he got was that she seemed like she’d won a lottery and was trying to subdue her glee. All she had to say were bad things about Grampa, even the day of the funeral. But Connie was the one who was just there for the money … riiiiiight.
I’m not saying Connie’s a saint, but who the hell do you people think you are the way you say such things about others? Talk about throwing stones from glass houses. Nobody’s perfect, and all of you are lightyears from sainthood, but you all love to sit back and judge others. Were you always like that, dad? Because that’s not how I would have thought of you when I was a little kid. But what do little kids know? I’m curious to know the truth to that question.
I wonder other things about you and wish that we had a better relationship. I’d really have liked to have delved into your past some more. At the funeral, for instance, I was wondering what Grampa was like as a father. I know how difficult he was in the years that I knew him and I wondered about your thoughts on growing up with him. I also know that he could be very generous. I know he never would have kicked you out of his house the way you did to your own kids and I know he really cared about you and tried to help on many occasions. I know that he paid off Uncle Blair’s mortgage years ago and gave you an equivalent amount of money. I don’t know why he didn’t help me more, but I always thought that it was because (a) he didn’t know the truth of the circumstances and (b) it seemed like he always wanted to “teach me a lesson.” Anyway, I’m certain he wasn’t the perfect dad and I really would have liked to have known more about you and your past. Oh well.
Back to your letter. About how you were wracked with pain and would have left had it not been for Rob’s arrival on the scene. Tanya had once told me that you said the same thing about Kelsey’s birth. Mind you, Tanya gets things mixed up sometimes, but she was telling me a long time ago about how much you wanted to leave Carol and how much you cared about us and what a shock it was when Kelsey was conceived and how you were mad about that and how you hadn’t wanted another kid. My point is two-fold (i) do you not know how babies are made? Obviously you have heard of contraception. I would give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that Carol lied about being on the pill, but I know Carol too well – she’s too selfish to even go on the pill. She would have made you use rubbers and she would have claimed it was necessary because of some bogus health condition. So I don’t buy that scenario. Let me spell it out for you, when you ejaculate your sperm into a woman’s vagina, the sperm will fertilize an egg if they can. That’s how babies are made. When you make a baby, you are responsible for it until the day you or it dies. Which brings up point (ii): you can justify your abandonment and void of caring for me anyway you like, but the fact is that you created me and my sisters and we were your responsibility. If you couldn’t look after us, you should have given us to the state, but your pride was more important than our well-being. Regardless of however many kids you brought into this world, all of us were your responsibility and clearly if you weren’t willing to take care of us then you shouldn’t have had us.
Besides that, which is so very, very basic it shouldn’t even need to be spelled out, given that you were irresponsible and cold enough to neglect your three daughters and to throw them out into the world, unprepared and broke, and to not care about whether they were safe or not (or alive, for that matter) or if their lives sucked so bad that they tried to kill themselves … given that you opted to not take care of us, I wish to God you had have at least had concern enough to admit it to the proper authorities. I wish so badly that I’d been put in foster care. It may not have been great, but I would have had food and shelter and been able to get financial aid for school. I would have had a foster family to spend holidays with. I would have had my basic needs met. Instead, you pretended to the world, and still do, that you were taking care of us … you pretend that any “estrangement” is my fault. I hate you for that.
I didn’t hate you prior to the funeral. It’s this bullshit that’s driving me crazy. The falseness you try to pass off (and which most of the family buys.) How you can say that you care for me as much as for Rob and Kelsey when they are going to spend their whole lives having a family and will always be financially stable … yet I’ve spent twenty years of my life – the majority of my life – without family … first living under a roof of hatred at home … a “home” in which I had to fight to not be kicked out as a kid? For years, as a child, I’d had to remind Carol that she couldn’t legally kick me out until I was of legal age unless you and her were going to financially support me out of the house. At sixteen, I’d had to look up the law so that I could finish high school. And all the years since then have been ridden with varying degrees of bad situations and poverty. And loneliness.
And you have the gall to tell me that we’re all the same, that Kelsey feels lonely sometimes too! God bless my bleeding ulcer! Jumpin’ Jehosefat that’s lame.
And it won’t ever end. Nancy and Tanya and I will always be screwed. First we had to endure a living hell as teenagers. Then we had to try to survive as kids out in the world, without an education and broke and without family to care. I’m still living each day with a huge hole in my heart where my family once was. You have no idea of the magnitude of that alone. Rob and Kelsey will never have to suffer that. And in years down the road, they will end up well-off, inheriting all of Bud and Glad’s assets, all of Carol’s, and roughly ½ of my grandfather’s.
And I get to take that lovely knowledge to my grave. I’m supposed to be “positive” about the family. You have no clue. No fucking clue how much pain I’ve endured and will endure the rest of my life because of your actions and inactions. Each day I will have to meditate on positive things … I will have to make a conscious effort to block out the reality of all of the above and more (there are so many awful facts, I can’t list them all.) I have to purposely suppress those things and try to mentally transcend them. And no matter how successful I will be at that, and I will try, they will always be ulcers in the pit of my stomach.
If you did want us to receive the same treatment as Robbie and Kelsey … if you honestly cared about us all equally, one of the small things you could do would be to forward to us your estate when you pass on. Rob and Kelsey will get more than their share from Carol’s side. But I know you would never do that. That would be the right thing to do. That still wouldn’t make things “even” – not by a long shot – but it would prove that you did care equally about us.
Instead, though, you’ll scoff at that. I know you. You’ll share it with the “family” and you all will frown and discuss how ridiculous I am to say that. But your soul knows. So go ahead and put yourself in hell. That’s your choice.
And I never, ever again am going to put myself in a position where I have to hear you say anything about how similar I am to your kids … how you care equally. Prove it asshole. It’s all a bunch of nice-sounding horseshit and I can’t stand it anymore. The facts are the facts and actions don’t just speak louder than words, in this case they make the words laughable because the actions are so opposite the words. You couldn’t even manage to honor what you said about sending the other $5K from Grampa’s will. I figured as much. I know how Carol is and I know how you are. You’ve justified it somehow. That money needs to go to Rob and Kelsey’s education fund. That money is for the taxes on the Lexus. Something ridiculous like that.
Back to your letter. Oh yeah. I think that the reason you didn’t leave Carol, at least before Rob was born, was just that your career had tanked and you were afraid to lower your standard of living or ask for more money from your dad. Us kids would have been so much better off in even a two bedroom cheapo apartment than in that house where we were hated, not wanted, and forced to fend for ourselves. It was not about us. It was never about us. And you were very clear that your philosophy was that we were “just the kids” and we didn’t matter and what we thought didn’t matter and we didn’t have feelings.
And after Rob was born, your excuse still doesn’t hold water. You still didn’t have to side with Carol on everything and never, ever listen to us or care about us. You still didn’t have to turn into her marionette and kick us out of the house under false pretenses. So much for “being wracked with pain.” If that was true, how could you kick me out when I pleaded with you not to? You were still our father. Her will could not have been manifested had you not complied. Who cares if you couldn’t take us and leave? How does that make your only choice kicking us all out of the house when we were still kids, were broke, were in school, and didn’t even know how to drive a car or do taxes or any of the other many life skills that most people’s parents give them guidance with? It’s just another euphemism. Your actions speak the truth, your words just “sound good.” You became like Carol over the years. Did you know that? You turned into a fake person just like her. With the little snorts and snobberies and catch phrases that masked the truth. She always liked to say things that sounded so righteous but if one just lifted up the veil a little, underneath nothing was right about it.
Back to your letter: as for the times I gave you chances I told you enough about that above and this letter is getting too long for me to detail anymore.
Oh my gosh. I just got to the part where you said, “… I encouraged your school sports … I encouraged you to do the best academically as you could …” yes, pre-Carol! As soon as you started dating Carol and from then after you never asked once about anything extra-curricular. You never went to another game of mine. You even forgot when I was coming home from 6th grade camp! You dated Carol every day and didn’t see us and nothing changed that day that I came home, eleven yrs old, from being away at school camp. Did you even know I was gone? Every single other kid had family there to pick them up when the bus pulled in. Nobody was there for me. I looked around and felt foolish and ashamed. I had to walk home by myself, crying. You didn’t get home until after I was in bed, as usual for that period. Tell me, how was Kelsey greeted on her return from 6th grade camp? Did she walk home, alone? Not likely.
You moved us from Delta to Richmond (to be near Carol) and then back to Delta when you guys married … never a thought to my school or my sports teams that I had to quit or the friends I had to leave behind. You made it all the harder to make new friends by making us dress in geek clothes. You prohibited me from going on my England trip with my schoolmates even though I had worked to save all the money for it. But the most appalling thing I read in your whole letter was “I encouraged you to do the best academically as you could.” What Bizzaro World are you conjuring up? Again, maybe before Carol came on board and wrecked my life that might have been true, but I distinctly remember you telling me that I shouldn’t think about going to college and should just enter the work force and be happy with that. Stunning. You didn’t encourage me to do the best academically that I could – you tried to deter me, tried to make me change my innate desire to get the education I knew I wouldn’t be complete without – just so that you wouldn’t feel guilt.
As mentioned earlier, you went even further than that to hinder me academically – you wouldn’t even fill out the necessary student loan page on my student loan form. Because “they” didn’t need to know that.
Not only did you foil me then, academically, your actions caused a chain of reactions that I will never be able to set right. This is what’s normal here: the child goes to elementary school, junior high, senior high, then college. If his parents can’t afford college, the kid and parents fill out a student loan form and the student keeps renewing those loans until he finishes with his goal. He is also eligible, via this process, to get grants and scholarships. Once out of school, the kid finds a job. Then they have a family of their own and the cycle flows.
The bane of my existence to this date has been trying to get the education that I always knew I needed. YOU fucked that up. All you had to do was fill out your f’ing part of the student loan form properly. Instead, time and time again, I had to quit college and work enough to be able to live. From that point on, every time I’ve applied for financial aid, both in Canada and here, I am denied because I make enough money to support myself. I have driven myself crazy trying to win this war.
You robbed me of my “college days” and by your actions I still don’t have the education I would need to have the kind of job that would give me financial security. I will be in my forties by the time that happens. Because of you. Because you said “they” don’t need to know about your finances. You will minimize this whole thing – but let me make it clear – those actions of yours have had the HUGEST impact on my life. They affected every aspect of that cycle of normal progression of life that I detailed above. And now I have to go to school with a bunch of kids. And decide whether to finish my goal or have kids of my own. And if I ever do get to where I would have been had you actually cared about my education, I will have lost twenty years of income in that position because I will have had to start my career twenty years after the rest of the young’uns around me.
Each time my circumstances have changed, I’ve had to reconstruct a goal as positively as I could. How dare you say you encouraged me. Had you “encouraged” me, had you filled out that student loan info, my life would have been so much simpler – you have no idea. No clue. Go ahead and keep trying to make things sound better. Keep trying to justify yourself and make me out to be the one creating these problems I’ve had. That may make you feel better on the surface, but it’ll catch up to you.
You didn’t have to pay for my school. I wouldn’t have expected that (although Lord knows Rob and Kelsey will have their school at least partially paid for – they’ll be able to follow that normal progression and do whatever they want) but I did need a roof over my head or student loans. You saw to it that I got neither. And that has really fucked up my whole life.
Yes, you did come to see me in Fiddler on the Roof, but I think that was the only play you came to see. I wasn’t in just one, even in Delta. And Carol walked out, but that wasn’t your fault. Anyway, bravo! You went to one of my school plays and you helped me choose my first car when I asked if you’d come with me. No driving tips, no car maintenance tips, no lessons, though … but I guess I’m being ungrateful now.
Who cares if you had no money? I really don’t give a rat’s ass about that. If you couldn’t afford to buy me a car or furniture I understand that. All I wanted was a roof over my head when I needed it, a chance to get an education, and mostly, to be cared about. Say what you will, but you didn’t care. I can live with a poor father … I can LOVE a poor father. But my life has sucked with no father.
Every single time I tried to tell you about any problem in my life you wouldn’t listen. You’d get mad. Nancy, Tanya and I were brought up to not ever voice our problems or hurts and to never, ever ask for anything. We have always had to pretend everything is fine or else you would detach yourself, usually in an angry rage or with a phone hang-up.
And you have the nerve to say, “Why didn’t she just ask me?” about Tanya and her car problem as if you’ve been Mr. Approachable over the years. More bullshit. I knew that’s exactly the B.S. you would spew when you got my card telling you about that. A performance, as if it was such a conundrum. It was very simple. I was sick of seeing myself and Tanya and Nancy fucked up again and again by things like cars breaking down and no money for the repairs. I’m not afraid to ask you anything now because you don’t matter to me anymore. I’m not afraid of your reaction because you couldn’t possibly hurt me any more than you already have. Nobody can. And I felt it was the right thing to do to give you the info and the guilt trip it would take for you to lift a finger to help one of your other kids, my sister. Both of my sisters matter a great deal to me. You never think of sticking up for us when it’s more than apt, but I will from now on, and I don’t give a fuck about what you or anyone else “important” thinks about it. They are important. And while there’s still nobody sticking up for me, at least they’ll have someone sticking up for them once in a while, and they deserve that.
Now the part about Connie. I love how you write one sentence then write “end of story” then continue on for a few more paragraphs. I don’t blame you, though. I’ve done the same at times. For you to say that Connie has some weird ideas is the pot calling the kettle black. Your statement has no credibility with me because you all are the ones with the contorted ideas. Sending a teenage daughter to go live with an older Indian boyfriend who she didn’t want to live with and was having problems with because she “failed Consumer Ed.” Not allowing Tanya to step foot in the house because of her hairdo. I could list a hundred things, each one of them far more “weird” than anything about Connie.
Your biggest piece of evidence to support this accusation was that she “told Dad that he should marry her mother – Good Gawd!” That’s one of those things I was talking about that Carol would say that sounded right on the surface. It would be said with an accompanying eye roll and all in the room would snicker.
Grampa was lonely and he did have dementia. He acted like Connie was his wife a lot of the time. He patted her tush and called her by endearments. He wanted to buy a diamond ring for her in Palm Springs, but she said “no.” Connie was the housekeeper. She did not want to be his wife but he wanted a wifey type partner. Perhaps she told Grampa that he should marry her mother because he was after her, Connie, and that to me, seems like a very non-weird thing to say. If my octogenarian-plus employer was coming on to me and was obviously looking for a replacement wife, I would make suggestions, too. And if Grampa could become enamored with Connie, maybe he would have liked her mom. Maybe they were both lonely and she was playing match-maker. I really don’t understand your reaction. It’s just a typical Carol-ism. Snobby. I don’t think it’s an example of how “weird” she was at all. You people are the weird ones. Abandoning your own flesh and blood and then blaming them for being estranged. That’s weird.
Having two different kinds of milk in the fridge, one for us lower class outcasts and one for the real family. That’s weird. But you all would come up with some Carolism for all those things.
Yes, I’m reliving the awful past and this is the last fucking time. I figure the only time I’ll ever have to see any of you again is at Nancy’s wedding. Hopefully that’ll be it. Tanya should have learned her lesson by now about inviting “family” to important events. Next time she’ll probably elope. If I do ever have to be near you again, please stay away from me. That’s my Christmas present to you. I’ll say, “stay away from me” and then you can tell the whole family that the reason you don’t do anything fatherly in my life is because I asked you to stay away. This is hard to rehash, you never do anything to help; all you end up doing is trying to blame me somehow for some wrongdoing in my thinking or actions. I won’t subject myself to that ever again. Once I am done writing this letter I am going to work on forgetting. Pretending my family died in a car crash and it wasn’t a conscious choice of theirs to abandon me. Only me and my sisters survived. That would have been a lot easier to handle. And what a nice scapegoat I just handed you. You’re welcome.
Speaking of Tanya’s wedding. I know that Mark gave you his thoughts in an email and then Tanya apologized profusely and acted like it was “an accident” to send the email (riiiight.) She shouldn’t have apologized, though, and you shouldn’t have let her. Regardless, you already have been through “why you didn’t show up” but there was so much more than that.
I was in college (and working full-time) at the time her wedding plans were announced. She spent money and time sending out all those invitations with the date and time on them. I was glad to see that the day fit into my college schedule. But you had the nerve to ask her to change the date for you because Kelsey’s school schedule interfered??? And Tanya is so ready to drop everything anytime to please you. You and Carol. It’s sick. Who has the nerve to ask the bride to change the date of their wedding after all the invitations are sent out? She redid all of that. Did you pay her for the expense of the invites? I doubt it. Well, the “Kelsey-friendly” date didn’t fit into my college schedule. But did I expect Tanya to change everything for me, even though if I miss one day in the tough classes I’m taking it can drop me a letter grade? I’ve got a straight A average at college and my grades are not only important for scholarships, they are crucial to me because I figure I’ll need every competitive edge I can get because of my age when I do apply to graduate schools, and later, for jobs.
Then … this is the part that kills me … you couldn’t go and you wouldn’t even let Kelsey go with Nancy! And it was because of Kelsey that you’d made Tanya rechange her friggin’ wedding date. And why couldn’t Rob go? She expected all of you to go. Poor Tanya. She really expected Maureen, Blair, Brent, … everyone to go. You’d think one of them could have made it. I suppose they “don’t believe in that.” Whatever. But Connie’s the weirdo. Right. Convinced me. And tell me, would you ever, for any reason, miss Kelsey’s wedding? Nope. Besides, Carol would never allow that.
Back to your letter … oh … you’re still bitching about Connie. I loved it when you said that she had no business talking about Grampa’s will and what he left us. You said that that was “private … for family only …” again, indicating you don’t consider me family. I wasn’t supposed to know. I wasn’t supposed to talk about it. Anyway, how ridiculous. Of course it was Connie’s business. She was the one who had lived with Grampa for seven years. She was the one who had to listen to him talk about his money every day and about his will and who was getting what. How moronic to try to pass off that silly catch-phrase (one of those things that “sounds good”) about how it was none of her business and that was “for family only” to know about. Bullshit. Again, it was Grampa’s will, not Blair’s and not yours. It was about him. And he chose to tell Connie. Who the hell do you people think you are, saying it was none of her business? It was Grampa’s business and he made it Connie’s.
You may be fond of keeping finances and other such things secret for whatever reason. You’re afraid to have anyone know the truth because it would expose you. What are you so ashamed of? That’s a rhetorical question. I know exactly what you’re ashamed of and why you are so fond of keeping things secret. I don’t think you’ll ever admit it to anyone,though. You’ll die with that shame. Oh well.
Speaking of the slip of the tongue about “family,” do you know how many times people said things like “the whole family” and “for family only” and didn’t even notice that they verbalized such statements in front of me, knowing I had been excluded, not by my choosing. I mean at that funeral weekend.
Talk about people acting odd, Aunt M was acting very “off.” I guess you didn’t see it. She said one weird thing after another and was acting very strange … not at all like the “together” person I had known in the past and always envisioned her to be. That weekend was weird from the start to the finish and I didn’t feel normal again until my plane had landed back in Orange County.
Our first morning there, after saying “hi” to everyone who was around, Sean and I went for a drive. He’d never been to Canada before. He didn’t get to see much of it and he had a pretty rotten trip because he saw how weird almost everyone acted toward me. You idiots think it was me that was acting odd but I was about as normal as I could have been. Just because I didn’t want to hang out with a group that included the woman who set out and succeeded at ruining my life, that meant I was acting weird. If you knew all that I’ve been through and all that I’ve experienced you would know that it would have been weird had I stayed to chit-chat with “the fam.” I didn’t have anything against Aunt M and Uncle B. I still don’t. I know you don’t understand that. They are the ones who don’t want to know me, although nobody will ever admit to that. And I don’t even blame them for that. You can think I’m paranoid or negative or whatever, but I’m just facing the facts that have been shown to me over the years. I didn’t mind being around them, though, but I certainly couldn’t hang around where Carol was. What on earth could ever motivate me to do that again?
Of course I would opt to go hang out with Sean. I’m not a masochist. Later, when my sisters would arrive, they would be the only other people there who wanted to be around me. That’s the truth.
I hadn’t expected Kelsey to act so weird. She had been the sole family member who had made an effort to get to know me and to be in touch. I was thrilled by that. Anybody who knows me knows that. Her wanting to email back and forth was great. I didn’t use email regularly because I was working full-time and going to college full-time, but I always returned her emails. Eventually she stopped sending them, but I had no idea that there was anything wrong. I assumed she liked me.
When Sean and I came back from our wanderings, I came to say “hi” to the new arrivals, despite the fact that Carol had done so much to hurt me, and that that would mean saying “hi” to her, too. We came in through the garage and the first person we saw was Kelsey in Grampa’s office, on the computer. I was glad to see her. We walked into the office and I said, “Hi Kelsey!” and tried to ask her how she was but she quickly turned off the computer and bolted. She whizzed right past me and ran to your side, cuddling up to you on the couch. To be honest, I am so used to family acting weird that I didn’t notice. It was Sean who pointed it out. When we were out of earshot he asked me, “What was wrong with the kid?”
I said, “Huh?”
He said, “The girl … she acted really weird when we came in … she ran away from you and clung to your dad, looking at you like she was afraid of you or something.”
I said, “I don’t know.” And I dismissed it. Rob, however, was nice to me. Pleasant anyway. Neither of them said another word to me after I had made the first efforts to say “hi.” I gave Rob a hug and asked him a few questions about his life. After that, neither said “boo” to me. In the past I might have felt obligated to be the one to pull out conversations from people but I’ve changed over the years. I’ll gladly talk with anyone who wants to talk to me, but I don’t have to be the instigator.
When we were kids, Carol and you used to make us talk because we were too quiet. I remember being sent to my room without supper because I couldn’t think of anything to say at the dinner table. Obviously you don’t treat Rob and Kelsey the same way, because they were like clams the whole time I was in the same room with them. But Audra was the one acting weird. No favoritism there.
My cat’s curled up on your letter now … I was going to reach for it to see what the next point was but it’s not worth disturbing the cat.
I do recall some kind of chastising … you telling me that I was rude to Rob and Kelsey. What nerve you have! Oh my God. Despite the intense difference in their lives compared to mine, I have never resented them, personally. I choose to see them as their own individuals. I was not rude to them. I was quiet, but so were they, and since when is that rude. My grampa had just died and I didn’t feel like making small talk. I’m often a quiet person. I’m not sure why you don’t remember that about me. In all my old report cards, my teachers would write praises except they would comment on how I didn’t participate in discussions enough. I’m shy by nature. I’ll talk if I feel like I should … and if they would have talked to me, I would have been very, very pleased about that and would have gladly conversed. But nobody there really wanted to talk to me except for Brent, Melody maybe, Nancy and Tanya. Everyone else seemed to act weird around me.
If anyone was rude to anyone, it was Kelsey but you would never tell her she was rude to me! God forbid. And I don’t want you to. That’s her choice and I’m not offended and I don’t hold it against her. Obviously something caused her to react that way and while it wasn’t my fault, I don’t think it was her fault, either. In other words, big deal. One day if she ever wants to re-connect with me, I’ll always be here for her … but I am done with being the one making the effort where family is concerned (with the exception of with Nancy and Tanya. I will never give up on them.)
What I had asked you to apologize for me for was simply for not saying good-bye. And screw you for jumping all over me for apologizing for that. It took a lot out of me just being around Carol and listening to her and Aunt Maureen criticize Connie while fawning over the goods in the buffet, and everything else that had transpired. I didn’t have it in me to go around saying “bye” to everyone and I certainly didn’t owe anyone anything. I got so sick of always being the one who had to do everything just so. You and Carol both had told us how to act, what to say, blah, blah, blah … we always had to be the perfect little robots. I don’t have to be perfect anymore. If I want to float off without saying good-bye that’s my choice.
I didn’t have to ask you to give them my apologies for not saying good-bye. That was just me being nice. Just like when we were talking on the dock and I said something like, “I guess that’s a problem I have to deal with …” I didn’t say that because I really thought the cause of the problem stemmed from me. I was being nice. That’s what normal people say when they know someone else screwed up and they’re trying to make it easier on the person. The other person is supposed to say, “No, it’s my fault” and then they get along. But you saw it as a weakness and plunged. Your tone changed from Mr. Friendly to Mr. Gruff Bear, barking something nasty about how I’d better do something about that problem of mine. Stupid.
Back to the funeral. I had called Tanya and told her she’d better get her ass to Osoyoos, and I asked her to call Nancy and tell her to do the same. It was wonderful that they both made it. While the three of us and Aunt M were around her dining room table, Aunt M said that since Grampa had been the source of all the family’s tensions maybe now that he was dead, everything would be peaceful between everyone. I know that he was a great source of tension for her, and she deserves to feel that way about him in relation to herself … but she was directing the comment to us, about us. How strange is that comment?
Grampa, although not the nicest guy in the world and not the best grandfather out there, had been the only remaining “adult” family member who treated me like family. Grampa’s house was the only house in the whole world where I was made to feel welcome. And that’s the truth. Almost everywhere I lived over the past twenty years I felt either like someone didn’t want me there (I have overheard that at least six times in my life, and it’s a horrible thing to overhear someone say about you – that they wish you weren’t there.) You wouldn’t know how that feels. Grampa was the furthest thing from the bane of my family relations and, while Tanya and Nancy nodded their heads, as if in agreement, although I know they don’t agree and it’s just a polite thing to do, I was stunned by the meaning of that comment by Aunt Maureen.
How misguided was she about our lives that she would think that Grampa, and not her buddy Carol, was the source of our misfortune? I know he was an ass, Lord knows I know that, but compared to the rest of you, he was like a saint in his treatment of me, for one … I can’t speak for my sisters. And that’s not to say that he never said mean things to me. He did. He was a huge asshole. But still better than you and Carol, and he was kinder to me than your brother’s family was. Grampa accepted me. He never acted differently toward me. He was always my Grampa, and boy did that mean a lot in a family that didn’t want to include me.
I was very sad about not just the passing of Grampa, but about the passing of Osoyoos, as I knew it. I LOVE that place. I have the best memories of there. But never again will that house be a place where someone is really glad to see me. Never again. I have no place now where I can go and know that the person on the other side of the door is really glad to see me.
I know that I should have been focusing on your pain and Blair’s pain since you lost your parents. I wish we had that kind of family tie. None of you care about me, though, so how can I really care about you? You all still have family. You all will never know what it means to be not wanted. To really be alone in the world. To be scared about the place you live or about where you’re going to be able to rest your head. I would have liked to have been magnanimous and been there to support the sons who lost their father, but I didn’t create the estrangement. There is nothing I want more in this world than to have those normal family relations. You won’t understand, believe or accept it, but there is nothing I can do to “dis-estrange” those bonds. They started forming a long time ago, because of Carol’s actions, and it took me years to accept the truth of those estrangements. I didn’t want them and I didn’t create them.
My choices, then – given that I can’t fix those estrangements, despite what you believe, that’s the way it is – are to maintain a fake, surface relationship or nothing. I want the real realationship, but none of you do. And I can’t have a fake relationship. To chit-chat with you and deny reality and let you continue to chatter on about your other kids and to prove time and time again that you don’t care about me. That’s just not me, Dad. It’s not that I’m being negative; it’s that you’re expecting me to be something I’m not. I can’t pretend that you “encouraged me academically” and that you didn’t kick me out and all the other things that have fucked up my life. I can forgive and I can get over things, but I can’t be phony. I gave you the opportunity to apologize a long time ago and you used that against me and got Grampa mad at me for the audacity I had to ask for an apology. You owed me so much more – and I would have settled for that.
Now you express some regret but you still act like Rob and Kelsey are our equals in your care. You still keep lying to make things sound better for you. It’s a mask. And it’s so ridiculously not true that it tells me you’re in denial about the truth. Because of that denial, you infer that things were my fault and you and Carol have influenced my whole family with such lies. Just leave me alone, then. If you can’t handle the truth, leave me alone.
It’s not that I don’t value family – it’s the opposite. Family is so important to me that I can’t stomach a phony relationship in which the other party clearly doesn’t care about me. That would depress me. That isn’t me. As I said, I’d rather pretend you’re dead and try to focus on the good people in the world, who I can have honest relationships with. Real relationships. It doesn’t mean that I won’t suffer for the loss. It means I can’t pretend that shit smells like roses.
Well, the cat moved off of the letter now … let’s see … okay … you can think what you want about Connie and I’ll think what I want. Like I said, I don’t think she’s perfect, but she’s a better person than you and your evil wife. If Grampa lent her $10,000 she deserved it. I know what it was like to be around him in his later years and I think she deserved even more than that … and a vacation. All jobs are supposed to grant vacation pay. It’s futile discussing, though, clearly we will never agree.
Oh … here’s the part about how rude I was to your kids. Lovely. And here’s the part about how my aunt & uncle have always been family to me. How so? You don’t understand. I don’t blame them … and I still like them … and I love the memories I have with them from childhood … but in the years since Carol came aboard she has, in a variety of ways, caused an estrangement not just between you and I, but also between me and all my extended family (except Rose and George – and I hate to even mention them ‘cuz I fear she’ll get this letter and talk shit about me to them, too, however I trust that Rosie knows better than to believe her.)
Anyway, as much as I wish it wasn’t true, Blair and Maureen have drifted from me over the years and they make no effort to be “family” to me. Ask Lenore about it. She’ll tell it like it is. She doesn’t know me anymore, but she saw the estrangement long before I did. That’s just the way it is, and she’ll admit it. She won’t know why it happened and she may think all kinds of crazy things about who I am, judging from family gossip, but she will know that the gap started to grow between us and her folks when Carol kicked us out of the house and we couldn’t afford to visit but Carol did. (Visit, that is, and gossip.)
I didn’t take Connie’s word as gospel. Everything that I took from her, I had collaborated by another source. And I still knew it may not be true. But I didn’t care. The right thing to do, for me, was to stick up for my sisters, something that should have been your job, fuckhead. I purposely “risked” my relationship with my aunt & uncle for my sisters’ sake because there was nothing there to risk. M&B never write, they never call, they don’t email, they don’t come to weddings, they don’t invite me to family affairs, they would never, ever come and visit me, even if they were in the area. And when I did try to communicate I got feedback from their daughter like, “you can’t expect them to be family-like” as if I was doing something wrong by trying to be family-ish.
I didn’t want to have to say anything bad to them, I do prefer to be nice, but the outcome could have really helped my sisters and so it was worth a try. I know that Tanya needed the money and so did Nancy. I was heart-broken and angry when I said to my sisters, “One day I really hope we can all do stuff together, like Rose and Violet and Daisy.” I so much want to have that kind of relationship with my sisters. But Nancy, in all earnestness, forlornly said that she would be eighty years old or something before she could ever afford to go on trips together like that.
How sad is that? That your new kids will be rich while Nancy, Tanya and I won’t be able to afford to go on a trip together when we’re old. Nancy doesn’t know if she’ll ever have a house. Tanya has money problems out the ying-yang … and if I break up with Sean I won’t have anywhere to live and I’ll have to go back to living with some potentially creepy roommate while I work full time and bust my ass going to school. And I’d have to change my goal again because I would never be able to afford the scholastic path that I really want to take. We’re all broke and we’ve had to do without so much that everyone else in “the family” takes for granted. So what if I offended my poor aunt and uncle in the hopes that somehow my sisters would get a little, teeny bit more of what they deserved. It was, after all, Grampa’s will. I don’t know if they ever got their other $5K because I’m sure it would be a big secret. You would tell them “not to tell.” Lame. How family-ish is that? When the dad has to say, “Don’t tell anyone…” when money is involved.
You just don’t have a clue. Too clueless about too many things. I know this letter won’t change your opinions at all, but it helps me to get the truth out. Perhaps knowing that just writing out all this poison helps me in some small way will make you feel a little kinder about all these things that you don’t want to hear and will be mad about and won’t accept. The very, very least you can do, after all the harm you’ve done and will continue to do my whole life long, will be to be a recipient of this letter and eke in some of the poison that you’ve infected my life with. That’s still nothing compared to the hell I’ve been through, which you know nothing about.
If you reply, I won’t read it. I can’t take any more of hearing you say you care or that you love me. It hurts too much because I want so badly to have my family back but that’s impossible. Carol saw to that. She won. So please leave me alone.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a good dream. Does anyone actually have good dreams? I’m sure I had them when I was a kid. For as long as I can remember now, though, all I have are nightmares. Whenever I wake up in REM state, I am always so thankful to find out that my nightmares weren’t real. They’re usually about someone after me … either chasing me or hunting me … or sometimes they are about “the family” and in those dreams someone’s always saying mean things to me … someone’s always misunderstanding. It’s awful. I want the bad dreams to go away but I don’t know if they will. Maybe if I can steer clear of you and that witch long enough and try to focus on the positive, maybe one day I’ll actually not wake up from a dream in a panic.
Good-bye. If you do see me at some event involving my sisters, please don’t even talk to me. You have no idea how much I loved you and how horribly this all hurts. But I didn’t create it. It’s not my fault. You said in your card that you sincerely wished me a “positive 2005” – it’s going to take everything I’ve got to bury this and focus on the positive.
P.S. the word “gall” doesn’t even begin to describe the nerve you have of lecturing me on family values, family responsibilities, and the importance of family. That’s like Charlie Manson lecturing about positive thinking.