My father passed away 15 years ago yesterday. But I grieved his death when I was 9 years old. 49 years ago.
My family was small and close. Just me, my older sister and my dad. I had already lost my mother, to mental illness, and my brother was murdered a few years later. We were happy and my dad had a good job in our small town.
Our home had an apartment on the second floor. One day a lady and her 4 kids came and rented it. Her husband was career military and thinking back, I believe because of his alcoholism, she decided to move back to her home town and divorce him.
Seems like right from the get-go my dad and that woman were a bit too “chummy”. They all congregated mostly downstairs with us. Dad would buy the food and feed 5 extra mouths. Her 2 bedroom apartment above us was equipped with kitchen and bathroom. Small for a family her size. Her husband never came to visit.
I put two and two together when they moved out and good ole dad would take us to visit them at their rental home in the country. A tiny 2 bedroom. Her 3 sons crammed into one. Her daughter and her, in the other.
I remember so vividly, my dad announcing they were getting married. I cried. Nine year old me did not want them back in our house. I didn’t want a step mother and 4 step siblings.
So they married, went up north for a few days and the next thing I know we are a blended family. I hated it. The fighting started. Not enough money. Dad worked 7 days a week trying to feed us all while she played the happy homemaker. Ugh
I recall one fight where they got in her crappy car and left. The boys came home with new baseball equipment and the girl new toys. Dad had told me that day I had been right and he shouldn’t have married her.
So to make things all better, she decided they needed their own child. Hell, my brother was still alive and not even living with us. Like we needed a new baby to complete this fucked up family.
This was when I totally, completely lost my dad. I became lost in a crowd of people I didn’t want to be with and everything me and my sister had with my dad was gone as they focused on the daughter they made together and treated her like an only child.
Gone was the promise of the horse he made me since I was 5. Gone was any assistance with a college education. Gone were the braces I had wanted forever because of the space between my front teeth. Everything I desired was wasted on a woman who saw a good thing and latched onto it. I was working and totally paying for all my clothes and whatever else I needed by the time I was 14. Before that, I had next to nothing because we were poor. Not because my dad didn’t make good money but because of choices he made. My dad didn’t even take time to come to my school events, baseball games or my high school graduation.
Funny though, their golden child got everything braces, a graduation party and a college education. I worked, bought my horse and payed the vet bills, bought the hay and took care of my responsibility. My half sister was 5 when she got her pony. Little Maybell was a stupid, mean Shetland and by summers end they had decided to give her away before someone got hurt. My half sister, at 5 years old spoke up and said “if I have to get rid of my pony then Debbie has to get rid of her horse”. And it was like this always.
So yes, my dad died of lung cancer December 15, 2000, alone because my half sister, who wasn’t working at the time, was too busy to watch over our dad. I was by then, a single mother, working full time, paying more in daycare then I got in child support, raising two sons on my own, with next to no help from anyone. I got the call at work. I had already in my mind, said goodbye to my dad, years before.
I miss my dad. But he left me long before the day he died.