So my dad actually died a few months ago but I didn’t run across the email until just yesterday. I guess that’s what happens when you’re estranged from your family and don’t have much contact with them. The truth of the matter is that I’ve been waiting for this to happen my entire adult life. When I was around 11 years old he had a mental breakdown and got put in a hospital that was straight out of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, or Twelve Monkeys. They gave him electro convulsive therapy (ECT). He was never the same after that. I used to visit him (my parents were divorced) at a little apartment in Kent, Washington he put up in. He would have the curtains closed all the time was it was so dark he didn’t know if it was night or day. He would sit there and mumble to himself or say “sir” constantly which I think was a throwback to when he was in the Coast Guard. Sometimes he would talk about how he wanted to kill himself. I would keep myself occupied by watching a beat up VHS tape of Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back over and over, or by talking to the neighbor. He was supposed to have weekend custody but often after half a day alone with him I would call my mom up and ask her to come and get me because it was too hard to be around him. All this was going on when I was in junior high and high school. I saw him one last time in nursing home, I cried the entire drive out to his place and most of the drive back. By that point he was like someone with the mind toddler stuck in the body of an old man. We played board game with him and he couldn’t even keep track of who’s turn to play it was and we spent the whole time telling him not play his piece because it wasn’t his turn yet. This was the last place he ever lived and at least it seemed pleasant enough, it was out in the country and there were horses on the adjacent property. He would walk around the land in a big circle route all day. I have strange, somewhat icky feelings about not having gone to visit him more often while he was still around, but I was down in California with my own set problems and couldn’t afford to make the trip. So the person I knew in my father when I was really young has been dead to me for many years now and in lot of ways I already mourned that some time ago.
When I was 25 my girlfriend fell of a tree she was climbing and died after she shattered her spine. She was 23 years old and had been making big travel plans for the summer. I was an emotional wreck after that and still put up with a lot of hardships in my world 12 years later that ultimately result from what happened in that time. So I’m no stranger to grieving. In a lot of ways, that was so much more shocking than this, it was unexpected whereas with my dad I’ve been waiting for it for years. It’s hard to put it in to words but it makes the whole thing feel differently.
Thanks to everyone who sent condolences, that really does mean a lot to me