Sometimes bad things bring out the worst in people. Sometimes bad brings out the best in people. Same thing goes for the good.
In this case, I think bad is actually bringing out the best in my dad. He has never been an emotional person and we have never had conversations that require feelings. I tried that when I was younger and I would always end up crying and being so disappointed. Every year for Valentine’s Day instead of candy or chocolate or a card my dad would give me an 8×10 portrait of himself that I think he got from work and I remember vividly one year writing all over it “i love my dad more than anyone else in the world. i want to live with him.” I mean that’s pretty typical for kids with divorced parents I think. There are always times when kids blame whoever it is that is living with them and want to be somewhere else. But my wicked stepmother wouldn’t let me. She would only let me come visit during the times the divorce agreement said I could, which was two weekends per month. Never more. So alas, after awhile I began to realize that writing all over a photo wouldn’t change anything and I wouldn’t be living with him.
And the emotional conversations stopped quicker and quicker when I realized that no matter how I felt, that woman had some sort of power over the situation and my feelings were irrelevant. I became the “selfish daughter” “the needy daughter” “the daughter who wanted his money” when really I was just the daughter who wanted love and attention and yes, a new pair of shoes every now and then.
So now that she is dying, it’s the first time in my life I have seen my dad as a human with emotions and I think he might actually have them and have rational thoughts. And he can feel things like sadness and express those feelings to me. And while those feelings must be so hard for him, we all go through them and I am glad to know that half my DNA may not actually be made of stone.
So when she does die, I’ll be there to support the best I can. Not for her. But for him. Because there was a time in my life all I wanted was his love and I think somewhere in a pile of things, I might still have that black and white photo to prove it. But I think I remember ripping that one up when the stepmother wouldn’t let my dad pay for a medical procedure I wanted because she didn’t think it was needed. And by all means, she knew best.