Call me callous if you like but I think this is the perfect time to tell you all why I don't speak to my dear old Pa. Apparently, he's in hospital right now not doing too well. I say apparently because nobody has told me. I'm undecided how to feel about this. On the one hand I don't care and aren't bothered, obviously. On the other hand they know he's my Dad and not exactly how I feel.
Some background: he left when I was 3 months old (don't blame him for that; my mum is hideous in looks and personality - like me) for, gasp, another woman called Linda. But then we started talking again for a few years before aged 30ish I'd broken my ankle and was massively incapacitated and in the depths of clinical depression. Thankfully my wife gave me something to think about in the shape of a D-I-V-O-R-C-E. That's Helen: never knowingly not a bitch. So I asked my Dad, and here on in he'll be called Pete as that's what I've called him for most of my life, if I could come stay for a few weeks while I got m shit together before going traveling for a bit.
I came to stay. Almost the first words out of his mouth were:
"and you keep your room clean"
Anyway, things were going, not awesomely, but serviceable at least.
Until, suddenly, Linda stopped talking to me. Why? Who the fuck knows. This is a mystery that will last forever. 3 years later I'm still none the wiser but that isn't the point of the story. Two weeks later, after making enquiries into whatever the hell I've done to Linda, I'm sitting eating a sandwich. I've been out exercising my gradually getting stronger foot. They come in, Linda starts hanging washing out and Pete comes over to me and says in a big stern voice:
"Clean your room"
"what're you gonna do? Ground me?" which me being me I thought was rather witty.
He goes out for a bit.
Linda comes in.
"right. You've disrespected me and now you've disrespected your Dad. I want you out"
"sorry? What? Are you talking to me?" I was busy reading and it hadn't actually registered that she could be talking to me.
"Out!" she screamed and she's literally crying.
"What the fuck have I done?" I said. "Just tell me, I'll apologize and make amends"
She storms off to her sisters and that was the last I've ever seen of her.
Enter Pete and in tell him what happened. Apparent,y he didnt hear my witticism. Ya know, I was expecting sympathy because his psycho wife went....psycho. I got....indifference. Incidentally, in my defense, I should say at this point that the entire family are terrified of her and I'm beginning to see why. Manipulative, emotional blackmail, psychopathic tendencies.....They all went on holiday together and because she wasn't involved in the planning or decision making by all accounts she made their lives hell.
When I did this thing the specifics of which I don't know, I asked everyone who knew her and the look of fear on their faces was classic. Nobody would dare ask her! Including Pete. Anyway...
Pete goes off to find her and comes back.
"This isn't working out is it?" he asks.
"Quite clearly. I'll go then shall I?" I ask incredulously.
And he walks out.
I go upstairs to start packing. Now, admittedly, my room was a pigsty. I'd been searching for something that morning and the room was a right state. I didn't realise this and if i had id have done something about it. So I tidy up, pack my bag and leave.
I ended up staying in a local hotel, why did I not think of the hostel, as not a single relative would take me in (the start of me not giving a shit about my family). I got a phone call from my Dad later.
"Why did you leave?"
"WTF? What was I supposed to do? YOU WENT TO THE GYM"
Off I goes to Scotland for a bit. On my return I had a plan. A five point plan for getting my life back together. It went awesomely. Except for the bits with my family. See, I couldn't go to see Pete as Linda was there. I'd suggest going around - the fear!
I was staying in a flatshare and he'd come round now and again on a Friday. On his way home from the gym. For 10 minutes. I'd make him a cup of tea and he'd put cold water in it so he could be off quicker. He'd look around in disgust. And there'd be the worlds biggest white elephant in the room.
I've got some wonderful nieces and nephews. I adored them. Their mum was Hayley, Linda's daughter from another marriage and shes aces, too. They made life worth living and the only way I could see them would be to go around their house. Luckily Linda barely visited so THE FEAR wasn't in evidence that much.
Now when I moved back to my Nottingham after the divorce I had happy ideas of spending Christmas with my Dad for the first time. Yeah, right.
Father's Day comes around. Alright, Linda isn't talking to me but I can see my Dad, right? Nah. He's out with Linda and my other niece and nephew.
"But I can see you at some point yeah?" I call him from Haley's house.
"Yeah. Maybe. We'll see. Call me later".
So I pop his card through the door. There was a rage building in me at this point.
I write Linda an apology. I don't know what I'm apologizing for, I bare my soul, something I wouldn't normally do but this is how strongly I feel about it. I hear nothing. Until a year later but that's irrelevant now.
They all go camping. I love camping. It's one of my favorite outdoor activities. I can't go. Why not? Because Linda will be there. ARE YOU CAMPING IN HER FUCKING HOUSE?
I got Hayley to phone her mum to ask her if I can go round to talk about it, to apologize. No.
All this time Pete is carrying on his life intentionally oblivious. He made a choice to ignore everything, all trouble, to not ask a question, to not talk to her, to not say 'he's my bloody son, he's in trouble and I want him to stay', he took the weakest easy path. Which is what I do, so it's what I did.
It occurred to me one day, nobody ever contacted me. Nobody ever called to ask how I was, what I was doing. So I decided to stop visiting Hayley's. I'd wait to see how long it'd take for someone to ask where I am. I waited a very long time.
Soon after that I moved and I just didn't bother giving him my new address. He certainly never asked for it or asked to come round or visit.
And it's still like that. Maybe I'll get a message soon saying he's died. If anyone bothers to tell me.
Life is qualitatively easier if you don't talk to your family, if you haven't got to always worry if they're ok and be involved in their shit. But it doesn't mean I wouldn't want to be there. Some people might be asking why I don't hate Linda. The problem is, I can empathize with Linda. She's nuts and so was I for awhile. No, it's Pete who had the power to do something, to effect a change and he didn't take it. I never realized how weak he was until that point. I hope I'm stronger. Or adopted.