Category Archives: Death

18

Dad

 

It has been 18 years since I lost Dad.  Which is just a stupid long time for it still to hurt and for me to need trigger warnings on multiple shows and online videos still.  But long enough to forget stories and memories.  His voice no longer just comes to me when I think of him.  But will eventually when I think long enough.  Too long to see his posts online somewhere, or pictures, or voice mails.

Being an adult is still difficult without that fatherly figure to help me with relationship issues, work issues, or to show me how to stop the fireplace from smoking up the whole house. Or why the lights over the dining table won’t stop burning out. Or how to build a vegetable garden that is too big to keep up with.  I might have that under control.  I’d love to be able to chat about his stay at home years and how he stayed sane.

But instead, for the last 18 years, I have been winging it.  I have looked for other father figures, but none are the same.  None will do when I was already “raised” when he suddenly passed.

I have made it another year though.  I have figured out how to be a dad myself with a talking, complaining, questioning son.   I have lost track of the times I have thought about how he would like to hear Junior is getting revenge on me by do what I probably did at his age or older.

It doesn’t make it easier to be constantly reminded of the loss in that, or the fact I have multiple friends in the midst of similar shocking losses right now and it brings up the “too soon”, “too young”, “too sudden” thoughts.   But it is part of my story.

And with each passing year, I try to identify with it being part of the story, not the climax, or piviotal moment just a section of the story.  But it is a large part, and I am trying to find something else to make the pivotal moment.

And this year, Junior is old enough to know who pictures are, so he is beginning to meet Grandpa Jim, if only in the couple pictures I have.  And the couple stories that have stuck.  And the silly things he said that are now coming out of my mouth.  Which brings up a whole ‘nother bucket of turds in trying to teach a little boy without real Grandpops what they should be.  And that is the hardest to stomach some days.

Miss you Dad. Every day.

 

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Filed under Adulthood, Death, Freewrite, Grieving, Junior, Marriage, Transparency

Da Pressed

NOTE: The following has been written and deleted at least a hundred times in various forms and continues to build.  It is real talk about where I am today that I feel needs to be shared.  One for some people close to me to understand. Two for some people to not feel alone potentially. 

Recently I was talking to new friends and telling stories of my past. Those stories led me to think of more as I laid in bed attempting to sleep that night and they overtook my thinking. Lately my thinking has a lot to do with working and careers and decisions in my past that have led me to being a 36 year old unable to find work.  Someone who can put out 30+ resumes and contact multiple staffing agencies and still have only one (failed) interview in a month.

When I was 19 I was a horrible employee.  Actually for the first few years of working I didn’t want responsibility and didn’t think of any job as a career.  But when I was 19 I was horrible.  Twice in a year I called in sick for a day of work and didn’t respond for weeks after.  Both were manual labor positions and both were not fun
(no excuse).  The first was in Fairbanks at a library on campus and I went six weeks before running into a former coworker and him telling me they needed help.  So I went back for a couple weeks until the semester was over and the project I was hired for finished.  The second was worse.  I worked for a temp agency in Atlanta and was placed at a machine shop.  The owner was a complete racist, as were the employees and in response to my lack of effort (most likely) I never was really trained.  I had a lot of little injuries, damaged multiple machines and often just ended up doing custodial work for minimum wage.  So one day I called out.

I watched TV a lot.  I made a massive batch of pancakes and ate those alone for a few days.  I moved the exercise bike into the living room so I could ride it while I watched TV.  I pulled out the sleeper sofa mattress so I could lay down while watching TV.  I went days without showering.  Using the same cup and plate for days.  I didn’t open the drapes or go outside and could only fall asleep if there was background noise so lost track of day and night.

I often say I was a bad employee for this.  But the other night as I remembered this I realized I wasn’t just a bad employee.

I was horribly depressed.

Last year, I quit three jobs…well four if you include putting Junior back into daycare to find a job.   I quit them for various reasons but none the less I made the choice to leave all of them.  The last made the biggest impact on me though because it was toxic.  I was constantly being told I wasn’t good enough and wasn’t following the rules, but then being told in code to cut corners to make my time.  EVERYONE there was depressed and beaten down.  It was not an okay place for a guy that can easily slide into that mindset.

I look back on the last year or so and have a million what ifs.  What if I didn’t get an implanted tooth but just another root canal?  What if I didn’t lose two months’ salary gambling?  What if I didn’t have to work delivering papers for a dollar an hour take home? What if our car wasn’t stolen allowing us to pay off the debt of one credit card? What if I didn’t quit a job with amazing benefits and pay but mundane work and problematic coworkers?  What if I didn’t quit a high pay hard working toxic job for another 3 months?  What if I didn’t get strep throat? What if we went to a doctor instead of the ER?  What if my counselor didn’t leave our session notes in public for an acquaintance to find and crush my trust in the one person I was willing to share all stories and feelings with?

What if I wasn’t depressed? Again? For another winter? For another year?

The answer to all is of course, WHO KNOWS?

Because the what ifs could go further back to meeting the beautiful Hannah, to moving and staying in Portland, to quitting college multiple times, to being rejected by most kids in high school, to moving to the south…and possibly even further back to the babysitter throwing and breaking my Snoopy hair brush in the bathtub (my first memory?).

All of these things have made me who I am.  And apparently today who I am is a slightly depressed 36 year old who failed to find another real job so is pulling his son from daycare again to stay at home dad with him.  Who is married to an amazing woman who has no concept of my career struggles because she loves her work and loves being able to provide for her family.  Who has time to work on his homestead and maybe get some odd jobs to pay for the luxuries he desires.

And that should be nothing to be depressed about, right?

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17

Seventeen years ago today I got news that changed the rest of my life. News of a tragic and fatal automobile accident that took my father from me.  Recently it has led me to start rethinking about how to chronicle the 10 years I spent being a 19 year old.  How it took me a long time to deal with the loss and how “dealing with it” often meant just moving on and accepting.  How I ran from responsibility, keep relationships at arm’s length and never admit any internal pain publically.  Rehashing the memories the last few months has led me into some really bad and difficult mental spots.  Occasionally more difficult than the six or so months of bad depression immediately after Dad died.  It probably has a lot to do with how I am repeating his life.

How I am struggling for an occupational identity

How I want to write but struggle to find the time to make it a priority

How projects start small but become massive and time consuming and require a village to implement

How I am staying home with my son instead of working like he did for at least a few years before I was in high school

How I have to wear glasses, have more fake teeth than real, and how my body aches every morning before I am 40

How blue collar work sounds noble to us but leads to more of those morning aches than it is worth

But like him I learning about how simple life can be if you let it.  He was often amazed by things teenage me thought were boring.  How driving for hours on end or sitting in the woods recharges the soul and yet leaves you with nothing still to talk about.  How watching the same movies or shows is often more exciting than finding something new to watch in the limited time to sit you have.  I have also started annoying the beautiful Hannah while I read placards at museums and monuments when she just looks at the pictures and wants to keep moving.  “Because words matter and paint pictures better in our memories” or something like that.

It does make me a little sadder every year to realize that Junior will never have a Grandpa even for just a few years like I did.  That we won’t have multiple generations in a picture on Facebook like friends will.  That he won’t hear Grandpa Jim’s horrible jokes or stories that change slightly every time they are told.

I don’t know why it is harder this year than last to fathom the loss of a Grandpa for my son.  Maybe because he would be able to ask for him now.  And run to him and grab a phone to call like he does his grandmothers and great-papa.  Or because I would be able to watch and learn from him and that is what I am missing.

So instead I have to tell the bad jokes and make myself available to play and laugh with him.  And try to remember Dad’s stories so I can pass them on.

Miss you Dad.

Writer’s note- This time of year depresses me.  I am doing okay—family—and am working through how to figure out life in its newest revelation. Thanks for understanding and letting me still be public with thoughts.

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Grieving, unfinished thoughts

16 years

Sixteen years.  It has been 16 years since dad died.  Which is a long time…yet it feels like yesterday my world was flipped over.  This year has been most reflective for me.  Having Junior and the stress of medical issues around his birth and post-partum caused me to think of him a lot and wonder how he did it.  How he supported my mom, how he dealt with infant rejection, how he lived without sleep.  It made me wish I could just ask and be comforted.  Struggling to balance work, church, home life, husbanding, fathering, house maintenance and relaxing (in no particular order) made me wonder his secret.

I don’t suspect he would have told me one thing or made it sound simple or even directly answered my questions, but he would have encouraged me.  Which I think sometimes would be better than most other options have I tried lately for coping.

Never has the loss of my father felt more awkward.

I have spent many sleepless nights—some caused by junior, others by my sicknesses…which were caused by junior’s daycare—pondering Dad’s loss.   How any age is bad to lose a father, but 19 is really bad.  Too late to have another father figure in the home.  Too early to have become a father figure myself.   Or something like that.

I thought about how Georgia was never home again…even though I attempted 3 times to make it such.  How it will never be complete again…and I don’t think it should be.  How sometimes the best end to a story is a tragic one.  And how an ending needs to be allowed to close a story.

So as I reflect on another year, I try not to wonder how it could have been different.  Because if one action is changed in the past it could impact every action in the present.  So if he didn’t die, I could be an alcoholic still living in Fairbanks, Alaska who never left but struggled to keep hold to one dream.  If he didn’t die, I could still be single and lonely.  If those cars hadn’t collided, my life could have still been on the same course I planned when I was 15.

A life without Portland, office work, the beautiful Hannah and our firstborn son and a house and asian travel and a strong, realistic faith, and friends that impact life when they move away, and all of the good things I have.

But even that doesn’t make the tears burn less, or time fly faster.

I miss you Dad. A lot. A lot.

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Fifteen

I have spent the last little while cleaning up my Facebook feed, skipping through music and moving songs around an iPod that doesn’t even work and looking for a great picture that deals with “15”. because I don’t want to write but here it goes…

In the last week I have seen a lot of crazy drivers as I walk to and from work.  They are driving the wrong way down the lane/ one way road, making illegal left or right turns barely missing oncoming traffic…or trains…or speeding through red lights more than a couple clicks after it turned.  This last week when I saw them, my back and chest tensed up like it had 14 or so years ago.  Then I often felt like I was bracing for impact.  Constantly replaying my dad’s last seconds on earth (as I had created them in my head since I was 4100 miles away).  Now I am imagining my beautiful wife, junior, one of the homeless I know who have been hit.

The fear is as scary today as it was fifteen years ago.  The feeling of helplessness and complete and utter lack of control is the same.  But I seem to be learning a little more about letting go each day.  How if I am not in control, I shouldn’t be holding on so tight.

It hit me a month or so ago, that dad would finally have been able to retire.  He would have finally been 62 and done with striving to be employed.  The largest “what if” I have in life…

What if.. dad was still alive?

It seems almost cruel.  His body was giving out fifteen years ago and would he have been able to butcher or run a meat market for the last 15 years?  Would he have survived all of the layoffs of the past few years?  Would retail have driven him literally insane or crushed his creativity to the point of just working to live?  Would…

That is a cruel line of question for all of us, but it makes me wonder more now than ever before if there is a grand plan?  If there is someone more powerful, more intelligent, and more gentle than us in control of this thing called life…

Yes, it would have been amazing to not run from any commitments for 10 years and for my son to have a grandfather to hold and spoil him.  For my search for a male mentor to never have been needed and for me not to worry about death constantly.

But if that moment 15 years never happened, today probably would look a lot different and would just as likely be as worse as it would be like the better in my thoughts.

So after fifteen years, maybe I am finally seeing good in that horrible day, but I still don’t like that it had to happen.

I miss you, Dad.

DadOh, and here’s that picture I spent 35 minutes finding…same one as last year.

 

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Filed under Death, Freewrite, Grieving, Transparency