Sunday, January 22, 2012

Strange Grief

Imagine living across the continent from your father who is in his 80s and in failing health.

Imagine a long, slow decline with many close calls during which you visit a few times and call periodically in between.

Imagine receiving the call that he has left this world.

Imagine you are the only person in the family your stepmother calls.  This is partly because your remaining family has dwindled to only about half a dozen people and partly because you are the only person who really had a relationship with the man you call Dad.

Imagine taking unending flack from your mother for your efforts at reconciliation.

Imagine your relationship, such as it was, being steeped in so many lies told for so many years you don't even know some basic things about your father.

Imagine people hearing your family name and asking if you're related to this man with the same name, your father, who is either respected for the career he had or reviled for the crimes he committed.

Imagine the fear over which way that conversation will go.  Imagine instructing your own children to ask why someone wants to know if they are ever asked if they are related to their grandfather.

Imagine flying across the country to attend your father's memorial surrounded by whatever people out there knew him, all strangers to you.  Imagine knowing that some of the things he is remembered for are complete fabrications that these strangers believe.

Imagine being told he donated his body to science and when they are done with him you will receive his ashes in the mail.

I'd imagine those ashes symbolize not so much the man who was your father as the loss of what could have been and what remains when a lifetime of lies are stripped away.

And as much as I try, I don't know that I can properly imagine what this experience is like for my husband.

18 comments:

Craig said...

I am so sorry. . . for all of it. . .

Please pass along my 'freak-in-the-box' condolences to Mr. Lime. . .

Sailor said...

So sorry... and add my condolences as well-

Beach Bum said...

My condolences.

I'm estranged from my father and after my dad-in-law recent passing in August I have pondered the issues that will erupt when he goes.

Dave said...

A sad situation Michelle. In fact sad many-situations. I guess the last chapter is closed now, and your father's life is done. Perhaps it is best to acknowledge this, take a deep breath and move on? My condolences too - Dave

Bijoux said...

I'm very sorry for your family's loss, Lime.

secret agent woman said...

Mine is in the decline stage and I can imagine much of that. It's hard. I'm sorry for your husband's loss.

Craig said...

At the risk of seeming to pry - what lies? Lies his father told, or lies others told about his father? Or, you know (c) all of the above. . .

Hilary said...

I'm sorry for your family's loss, Lime. And for Mr. Lime's loss all these many years.

Logophile said...

Loss is never easy and all that just makes it harder.

So glad he has you

goatman said...

Imagine a father having four sons none of which created offspring to continue the family name.
Count your blessings rather than bearing on the negative and making yourself crazy.

lime said...

all, thank you for the kind condolences to my husband.

beach bum, it complicates things to be sure

secret agent, and i am sorry for the process you are in

craig, lies he told.

goatman, i am in no way making myself crazy. the point here was that in trying to empathize with my husband's loss i feel i come up short because my experience is so different from his. nonetheless, i seek to be a support to him in a time of what must be complex and conflicting emotions given his family history. you really have no idea the magnitude of harm this man did to my husband's family. i only know in part and find that shocking. i am also of the opinion that folks who have lost a family member should be permitted to mourn without apology (so long as they are not lashing out and causing harm in the process) or having it suggested that their grief is minor compared to that of others.

G-Man said...

(((Trini))))

goatman said...

Sorry, I in no way intended to rank grief.

lime said...

goatman, i apologize if i misunderstood the intent of your comment

Craver Vii said...

When Job was suffering, his friends sat with him in the ashes for seven days before saying anything. Lime, I do not know that kind of loss or pain, but I wish I could support you and your husband in some way.

May the Lord provide whatever comfort or strength you need at this time.

~Tim said...

So sorry for the loss to you, Mr. Lime, and the limelets.

for a different kind of girl said...

They're late coming, but my condolences, as well.

Jocelyn said...

It's awfully kind of you to try to understand what it's like for him, though. What does he say of it, himself?