Good Grief Part Three: Saying Goodbye to My Dad

Each time I left the nursing home I was afraid that it would be the last time that I would see my dad alive. At the same time I hoped that he would be able to slip out of this life peacefully. I wanted to be with him when he died. We had been with my father-in-law when he passed away. It was in the very same nursing home but in a different wing. My dad was in the exact same room and on the very same side of the room as my husband’s best friend’s grandfather. When we went to visit his father, we would also go to visit Carl.

Joe, my father’s roommate told me that he asked Shannon if he could trade me in for his two kids. I asked him if his kids lived nearby. He said that they lived 5 minutes away and came to visit him about 2 times a year. We always made a point of talking to Joe when we were there to visit my dad. I need to visit him. I haven’t been able to make myself go back yet because it will be very painful to go into that room after my dad’s death.

When my dad’s brother died a few years ago, I took him and my stepmom to the funeral. I hadn’t seen my dad’s second wife’s son since we were children. It is a long drawn out story so I won’t bore you with the details. I will tell you that my dad had a rebound marriage to Kevin’s mother. My mother put my dad through hell. She was deceitful, and vile. She was married to my father, named me after him and carried on the charade for about 8 years. She actually got pregnant by my biological father, allowing my dad to believe that he was my brother’s and my father.

When she decided that she didn’t want to be married to him anymore, it came out that he wasn’t our real father. He was devastated. I am surprised that he didn’t end his life. He did tell me that he went to bed every night for 4 years with a bottle because of the gut wrenching loss of us kids, his wife, his home, damage to his business and his reputation. He felt like a laughing stock. Most people just felt sorry for him. He also lost my grandparents and all of our extended family.

The other major blow was that our father was actually the young teenage boy that he brought up north with them. He was only 15 years old. He was our biological father. The young boy that he had taken in, who lived in poverty, ran the streets and was fatherless, was actually my father. He had supported him, made him foreman of his company, took him into his home where he had his own room and every modern convenience available to him. He shared a room with me when I was a small child. I was very confused about the dynamics in my family.

To make this long story shorter, when they got divorced, Shannon was an easy target for another woman. His second wife was kind to us. I was jealous of her son. I felt like he had my father. It was not long after this that we lost contact with our dad. My mother and biological father made our lives living hell whenever we went on visitations with him. I felt completely abandoned by him. I had to believe that my mother was right, that he didn’t love me anymore. It wasn’t true.

After Kevin graduated, Shannon divorced his mother who was a very jealous, possessive woman. It was not long after that that Shannon started dating his 3rd wife. This is the wife that I now call my stepmom. She idolized him and the feelings were mutual. She made him happier than he had ever been in his life. They were married for 38 years.

Needless to say though when Shannon divorced Kevin’s mother, it was really hard on him. He loved Shannon who treated him like a son. He had a good relationship with Kevin’s father and he supported him in every way. I had not seen Kevin since I was a child. I believe that I blocked a lot of that out because we actually went to high school together. He was a couple of grades ahead of me.

When I saw him at the funeral for Shannon’s brother, I approached him. He said that he knew who I was when I introduced myself to him. Months later I looked him up in the phone book and asked him if he would like to get together. He said that he would. We connected and he gave me photos of my dad and his mom together and also a photo of us together. I didn’t remember having it taken. We talked a couple of times and after that we just drifted apart again. When my dad and stepmom moved in with her daughter, I called and told him that if he wanted to see my dad that he would have to do it soon. I wasn’t sure how my stepmom would feel about seeing him. Knowing though the pain of rejection and abandonment, I didn’t want him to feel that too.

He called my stepmom and wanted to take my dad to go see something or other, and she told him that he was too bad to go out. I think that Kevin, with his own issues of abandonment, took that as a rejection. It really was true that Shannon was to frail to go out. Kevin didn’t go to visit them after that.

I still had Kevin’s number in my cell phone. I think that I kind of wanted a connection to our past, and never deleted it from my phone. He had memories of my dad that I didn’t have. Frankly I was a little jealous that he had the best of my father, while I was left in hell with my mother. We lived hand to mouth, with abuse, anger, and pain and rejection.

We watched my dad slipping away slowly each day. His cough was getting worse and I was afraid that his lungs were filling up. The horror of his not being able to breathe was terrifying to me.

I took one of his scrapbooks to the nursing home that had articles and photographs of his Strato tower business and all of that he had accomplished in it. We would go through it and he could still remember a lot of what he had accomplished. He always remembered us up until the day that he died. That was a miracle. That was just one of the many miracles that we experienced during his last days on earth.

I will continue in part 4.