I have this fear and hatred of losing family.
I lost my first husband to his unfounded suspicions. Some serious drinking and risky behaviour got me through the divorce
I lost my second husband to reasons unknown, that I still continue to guess at. I had years to become fond of his family and it still hurts. I will never know how they are no matter how I worry, and I will always be aware that they do not care how I am. Some divorces just rip the guts out of you and they never grow back.
The children’s father’s family I lost out of necessity. If they know where I am, so does he. This was about preservation.
I lost my best friend to a heart attack. I suppose multiple heart attacks, really, and the last one was just that.
Now I have lost my father for that same reason and my children have lost a grandfather who taught them how to fish, took them on their first ATV ride, and reassured them that bears were not threatening to people in the overwhelming majority of encounters.
I lost my father once when I was child, age thirteen. He did not speak to me for about four years. He sent me letters explaining how to gain his favor back, but the letter (for it was photocopied and sent a few times) did not make sense to me. I wanted a love that was not conditional. I did not understand how things worked, what people wanted from me. I was deficient in my understanding and lacking in my behaviour and I just wanted to be known and loved. Nothing else made sense to me. When I reached adulthood I contacted him to re-establish a relationship and I decided I would never give him any cause to leave me again. He offered me a room (conditionally) when I was homeless and I turned it down. I wouldn’t have been able to bear losing him again because I failed to meet his conditions. Worse, I couldn’t bear his disapproval.
I have had some of his disapproval in the years since but I have never offended him enough that he chose not to contact me.
The children had some of his disapproval, but he still showed up with hugs for their birthdays and took fish off their hooks. They have not many male role models, so he was very important to them. The oldest and youngest adored him and my suspicious middle child was coming around to a mutual respect- as they are both avid outdoorsmen.
The youngest is five. Too young to lose a grandpa. None of them have sat down and cried about it-though there was some tearing up. The oldest, at nine, is trying to make me stop talking about their grandfather. He doesn’t want to remember that his grandfather has passed away. I had a talk with him about it, and explained we cannot pretend someone is still with us, it is disrespectful, nor can we simply stop mentioning the deceased for the same reason. He understood. He just doesn’t want the hurt. I don’t want it, either.
I have his Christmas present on a shelf. I know the brand of pickled fish I was going to pick up for him the next time I was in town, a brand I don’t think he had ever had.
He asked me a few times if something ever happened to him, what would I want of his? I wanted his cowboy boots. He didn’t have them anymore. I wanted his boot polisher. He didn’t have that anymore. I wanted one of his puzzles. He was going to look for them. He used to do puzzles and eat popcorn and watch baseball or football. Huge puzzles. Boring picture puzzles of covered bridges and fall leaves, the kind that you put together more by chance and determination than by color. The kind you take a month to finish. I want to take months to finish it, knowing he did so before me, with patience.
That’s all I want. Whatever my stepmother meant about having money that her own father left her that she sunk into the house or about how they both worked for what they have I hope she didn’t have a point or any suspicions of me.
Because that would mean she wouldn’t know me at all, after 35 years. I was worried about her. I wanted to meet with her so I could see her face and reassure myself that she was okay. I left the children at home with a sitter in case the stress was too much for me or for her. I needed to see her, my father’s beloved other half. Because I love her. I love how much she did for my father and I love how happy she made him. I truly believe she tamed him and made his life worthwhile. No one else could shush him when he was getting offensive. She was everything to him, no matter how demented he had behaved towards her this past year. I remember what a comfort she had been to him during the years I tortured my parents with my own mental illness, if my preteen confusion was that. His divorce with my mother enabled him to establish a relationship with a woman who completed him in a way no one else could have managed. Early enough in my life that I could become attached to her, too. I was five when I met her- she was like the mother I often wished I had, who had always patience and cookies.
So I am terrified that my children will lose their grandmother. Terrified.