Emily loved her father all during the time she hated him. She never felt this more acutely than today. She had just hung up the phone. Her father was dead. She felt the air go out of her lungs and her legs began to collapse under her. She sat heavily on the side of her bed. Dead, he was dead.
She was 43 years old. He had been what, 66 or 67 years old? She couldn’t remember. All she could think was, “He’s dead. My father is dead. I can’t believe it; my father is dead.”
It was only when she heard the news of his death that she realized that she loved the man, but not as much as she had hated him.
She stretched out in her bed, giving in to the tears. “Crying for him or for herself?” she wondered.
Her mind races, scenes from her childhood replaying in her mind. Before the phone call, her memories of her father were the ugly destructive ones. The memories of a father that sexually and verbally assaulted her. Why did she now remember him taking her out for ice cream and smiling lovingly at her? And the memory of opening a birthday present he picked out especially for her, it had been something unexpected and just sweet.
She remembered the scene when she finally confronted him about his past behavior and how furious he was as he denied it. His defense to her mother and brothers had been to call her a liar and try to explain every accusation as an innocent action misunderstood. The more he talked, the more lies he told until no rational person could believe him.
After her parent’s divorce, he basically ran away refusing to return her brother’s phone calls or their visits. All he would tell them is that he needed some time – some space alone. After months of unsuccessful attempts at communicating, they gave up and went ahead living their lives.
Now he was dead. The phone rang again. She picked it up. It was Ron, her brother. Ron had been on the internet and the phone trying to piece together what had happed. Her father had collapsed over a month ago in a KMart parking lot. His live in girlfriend had gotten him to a hospital and completed paperwork listing herself as wife. He had died 6 days later never regaining consciousness. As his ‘wife’ the hospital released the body to her. He had been cremated and his will filed by her within a week. They had not been notified of their father’s death. Ron gotten a copy of his will that left everything to the girlfriend/wife. Ron told her he spoke to several people that knew their father during the last ten years they had had no contact with him. He explained the break-up of his previous 32 year marriage and the estrangement of his children was all due to their betrayal of him. His concocted story of his life consisted of lies, lies and more lies with one common thread woven through each one. He had been the constant victim in every situation. He had been misued by everyone in the family.
She and Ron talked a while trying to comfort each other. Finally still numb and wounded, they hung up. What had she expected Ron would discover about her father? What had she wanted him to find? Suddenly she knew. She had hoped Ron would hear he had expressed to someone her father's regret and remorse over all the torment he had caused. Did he leave some personal item that would let them know down deep, he had loved them? She wondered, “What kind of man could not even give his children that much?” Sadly, she thought she knew.