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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I digress for some family time...

I'm taking a break from the narrative as today is my Father's birthday. He would have been 88 years old. (He died of congestive heart failure when he was 76.)

Without him, there would be no narrative, as there would be no me.

We had a strained relationship at best. Dad was a difficult man. Difficult to know, and difficult to love.

But I owe him thanks as he stood up, and tried to raise me after my mother was declared unfit, and he brought me back from Las Vegas when I was seven, where I had been living with my mother in the throes of her own addictions, selling herself to strange men, in our little travel trailer, and I tried not to listen.

In 1966, there were few single Fathers. Dad stood up and said he would do the best he could and care for his son. At first I lived with my Aunt, Uncle and five cousins...and for the first time, learned what life was like in a big family, a real family. We fought like rat terriers, all five of us, but no one at Catholic School messed with us, as they would have the whole lot of us down on them with a fearsome vengeance.

After third grade in Catholic school, Dad was able to get us a small apartment, and I moved in. I got used to his girlfriends, and later his wives, as I distanced myself from them, already an observer, hiding in books and movies.

An early memory is riding in the car on a Sunday morning, going to get the newspaper with Dad. I was two or three, and I remember his smell, and the smell of the newsprint, and a feeling of safety.

I also remember my first lesson about telling lies.

My parents were still married, and I was all of five years old. He asked me if I had brushed my teeth as it was bedtime, and I told him I had. (I was already tucked in...I didn't feel like getting up.)

He checked my toothbrush with his fingers, finding it dry and went insane.

He threw me from bed, holding me to the floor and kicked me all the way to the bathroom, screaming "Don't you ever lie to me! Ever!"

All that taught me was if you lie, don't get caught.

He was an explosively violent man, whose passions centered around his music (a professional musician, jazz and big bands) scotch, women and his mother. (And I thought I had issues...)

But he loved me, in the only way he knew and would have died to protect me. He had PTSD before it was fashionable and memories of World War II haunted him for the rest of his life.

Five wives, three kids...I was the baby...and he always wanted to be a star.

We lived in Dallas at the time Kennedy was assassinated, and Dad worked for Jack Ruby. I knew him as Uncle Jack.

My mother danced at the Carousel Club. The FBI interviewed them both, and Dad would never speak of that November.

He was the most self centered man I have ever met, and a few months before he died, I moved in with him, to try and care for him, as the quality of his life had declined to a point where he opted out, he was tired, and life had lost it's sparkle.

Two days before he died, he squeezed my hand and said, "I'll love you forever..." That's the last thing he ever said to me.

I still miss him.

Misanthrope, mysoginy and other 'M' words...

Life. The pendulum swings...things are good, not so good, suck really bad, better again, aw hell this is great... then back again. It took a while for me to learn that life was not static, that things change, always.

I went through a rough patch getting off the pain pills, but found that if I rolled with it, the urge would subside. Sometimes not for very long, but hey, small battles right?

So life was nice. Until I got my mail.

I have found that historically no good ever came from me checking my mail, even less if something were sent 'certified'. Nope, no sir, no good at all.

Divorce papers. Pages of legalese that amounted to my marriage being over. Now, I was not even close to being considered a good husband or father, and my first marriage had to be one of the most disastrously dysfunctional relationships ever imagined...but the finality rocked me.

I brought the parcel with me on the boat one day, just me and the skipper, and read them in front of God, his world and a pod of bottle nose dolphins that had been following us from our leaving the harbor.

They required I sign the documents and send them back. I couldn't understand why there were tears staining the pages as I read, as I had no barometer for loss, as of yet, but there it was.

I was now an official, court documented failure.

"Never again, skipper." I grinned through my tears.

He laughed, and pulled deep on a Doral. "I'll give you five years."

"You're crazy."

"Nope. I've seen it before. You are the marrying kind. Dead set on someone else being responsible for your happiness, you don't have a choice."

Smug asshole.

What could I say, deep down I knew he was probably right, although I couldn't see me doing it any time soon.

(After three marriages, I can see he was right. It took me eight years of being alone to come to a place, a place where I am absolutely complete being alone, and pretty damn happy. Not to say I'm not open to the right possibility, but today, I don't chase it. If it ever happens again, I want it to be for the right reason...but there's no hurry.)

So I swore off women. Lasted about a week.

But it was a start.

That's the thing about exotic locales. They are, by nature and definition, romantic. I had a friend in recovery whose sister was visiting the Islands from California. He thought I should show her around the Island. I did, and the forces that be donkey punched me in the heart.

I blame a full, yellow moon, walks on the beach at night and the bane of my existence...holding hands. I am an absolute sap for holding hands.

I knew she was a tourist. I knew it was a vacation fling. I failed to see this was a rebound affect brought on by my losing my first family.

When you're tumbling in the dryer, it's hard to focus on your socks.

My new disclaimer...yeah I know.

Okay, the old disclaimer was tired. The ideas were outdated and keeping me stuck in a place I don't want to be now for something more refreshing.

I have recently changed my views regarding women. Seems I had some issues with the fairer sex due to past pain and self- centered fear. (Yes...duh applies.)

I'm done with that.

Being in recovery has helped me change my entire life, perceptions and attitudes. I cannot change my history but I can change my today and my future.

I recently realized that the women I know in recovery are some of the strongest, bravest, most gentle and kind teachers I have ever had. You exemplify integrity and spiritual growth, and I hope you know who you are.

Some may know of my past marital and relationship history and been a participant in them as well. It's past and that's where it the past.

I own my part in those failures but claim no more responsibility in any misery you may be experiencing. I am sorry, but it's time to get off the cross. We need the wood.

Thank you all...