As I look at the happenings in my world these days I am understanding my dad more and more. Strange that I should. I’ve ALWAYS identified more with my mom than he. But there are things that can only be reviewed by the adult mind of a parent when thinking back on ones childhood to make sense. I remember not fully understanding my mother’s pain when my dad died. This man who emotionally seemed to hold her down all our lives. Made her feel bad about herself. Dalliances with other women. Never lending to the vision of them moving out of the “hood”. I guess back then we saw it as being liberated. Then I got married and lived with Earl. It really was one thing to date him and see him often and what not. Living with someone and calling that person your lifemate really changes things. After only months of marrying and living together, I started to see him as an extension of me and I an extension of him. There was a comfort-ability there I’d only achieved with blood family. He saw the whole of me. Not just the prettied up me that folks got to see when I came outside; but the dull, boring, possibly annoying, home body me. And loved me anyway. He became a better friend to me in marriage than we had been dating. I thought on how I’d feel after a year of being married if he’d died… and my heart sunk so hard…. It’s only then I thought… well then… how about 38 years? Even if it wasn’t all bliss all the time… the routine alone has something to say for missing a lost loved one. Of course I only came to that realization after she too had gone… not too long after telling us she really didn’t have anything to live for. That burnt a hole in my heart… and I’m not quite sure I’ll get to the point in my world where I’ll understand that commentary. I hope I never do.
But back to understanding my dad. All my life, Daddy was this… lofty ideal… I couldn’t put a stamp on who he was or what he was. He was there… he worked hard. But he found so much more enjoyment outside the house. So much so that he’d come home and I suppose be reminded of all the things he was running to the outside to get away from. Family. Responsibility. Rigamarole. At least… that’s what I thought. But living here now… the ONLY person in the whole edifice that doesn’t share a blood line with anyone else but the brand new baby… I’m understanding my father more. Growing up, we were literally SURROUNDED by my mother’s family. All the aunts and uncles we met and knew were my mom’s brothers and sister. Grandma that raised us was her mom. Only living Grandpa was her dad. Countless cousins that surrounded us were from her side of the family – be it Grandpa Osmin’s family or Granny’s side. I would sometimes wonder where Dad’s family was – but they were mostly all in Haiti still. The ones that did come visit – my cousin Marlene and my uncle Gabriel – i remember with fondness. Maybe mostly because they made an effort to come up and be a part of the family. To get to know us in some way. By the time his sister, my aunt Yvonne, moved up and lived with us for sometime, I was already grown – an adult so it didn’t really matter to me and I considered her presence more of an inconvenience because she got my room and I had to sleep in the living room for the length of her stay. But while I was being raised I remember mom’s family coming to live with us for months at a time as they made their exodus to the Americas. As a kid I thought nothing of it. It was fun. More family… more stuff to do and people to talk to. But now I think about my dad…. cornered. In a house full of “family” that wasn’t his family. His only relation was to those little rug rats running around. No family in the city… state… country… No one who knew him from before he was a husband or a dad or an American, even. Just his wife’s family. And their chatter. And their ways. And their togetherness, which you seem to be perpetually outside of. None of them understand how stuff was done when he was growing up in his particular household. His father had passed when he was just 11 and they had to make it happen w/o an adult male presence in the household. Dad had to learn how to cook so he could help his mom. Being the youngest and the only survivor between he and his twin, he loved his mom extra much. Shit. We barely felt it when his mom died and he traveled down to Haiti alone to bury her. How alone he must’ve felt in that realm.
The lonesomeness wouldn’t be so bad if when I did reach out to family, it was well received. But they all sit there on their high horses all talking about “YOU don’t call. YOU don’t write. YOU don’t visit.” I guess I’m the only one with a phone, a pen or email and a car. Either that or all their avenues are incoming only. These same people I mentioned above who were all about family when they lived with us… fell away when mom died. And I’m not sure what they expected of me. Folks get confused because I LOOK like my mom but I am not her. We don’t do things the same. We don’t really have the same mannerisms. And her tolerance for BS was way higher than mine. My tongue is sharper too. And it was mostly silenced out of respect for HER. But now that she’s gone — all of them can get it. They want to NOT answer their phones when I try to invite them to the baby’s christening – then FUCK them. They want to wait upon invite after invite after invite all to just NOT show up then criticize that I don’t try hard enough? FUCK them. They want to never act like their phones work going out. FUCK THEM. I have narrowed my circle significantly. The only family that tries to keep the ties: Domi. Tante Sisi. Ollie and his mom. Oncle Vava (and i know he doesn’t stay in touch because of that ugly BITCH wife of his). Even Ginette who is only a family member by marriage stays in touch more than supposed real blood relation. That’s it.
The rest of the so-called family can heed this message:
The original nuclear died off with Mom and Dad. All the nuclear i need is here. Hubby. Baby.
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.
-Simon & Garfunkel