Tag Archives: stepdad

Pre and Post Funeral Thoughts

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Pre-Funeral Thoughts

My father died and I’ve only told three people. I didn’t take off work. I didn’t even cry, although I’ve cried over plenty of other things recently (e.g. This Is Us, my ex-boyfriend, a coworker) and I’m sure this incident found a way to sneak in a tear or two while it had the chance.

It’s so strange losing someone who was an equally imperative and meaningless part of your life—I, at first, doubted that it was possible to mourn someone I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. I have a dad and he’s alive and well, probably working in his woodshop right now. This man who died is basically responsible for creating me, but not raising me, not loving me, not knowing me in any way. How insane is that? To create someone but never know them? I can’t even abandon a book, old shoes, or ancient Tupperware.

My mom said, “I’ll always have love for him because he gave me the greatest gift of my life—you.” And it’s funny because that’s how I’ve always felt about him. I’m only grateful that he gave me her. That’s all he’s ever been for me; he made it possible for me to live, and for me to be her daughter.

I wrote a poem back in October, when I first learned he was sick. Back when I asked my grandfather to keep me updated, but instead, I got a text in January that just read: “Robert Mendez memorial service” with a date, time, and place.

You kissed a pretty blonde cheerleader other side of the tracks type once
and probably thought nothing of it
thought nothing of the few years from then wedding,
the one her dad almost didn’t go to because of your last name
the same last name you’d give to a little baby girl
first name some Tejano singer from the station where you spent all your time
drinking and snorting away the reality that you were a husband and a father
not anything special
but you could’ve been special in the way the best people are
//
You probably couldn’t see all of this, right?
Back when you were in love and making a room laugh and playing piano
I guess you couldn’t see how your brother may have chosen to end his life
but so did you
long, drawn out, choosing to disappear
until you were dying in a hospital room
//
You want me to give some bedside eulogy while your body turns against you
but you died so long ago
I’m so confused
My funeral speech accolades about you were embedded in my
high school, bachelors, and masters diplomas, my book, my passport stamps—
everywhere that last name is inked
Everything good I’ve ever done is tainted by the tiniest truth
that I’m always proving what I can accomplish
without you
despite you
//
Even worse, everything bad that’s ever happened—
every terrible relationship choice
every panic attack
every depression
every over-analytical-anxiety-filled  am I good enough?
Everything can be sourly linked to you
//
So you see?
You’ve been here all along
in every achievement
every mishap
I wrote this all on your tombstone
sang these lyrics at your grave
I’ve said goodbye
and don’t know if I want to say it again

 

 

Post-Funeral Thoughts

PSA to every parent that could potentially be reading this: when you die, what do you want to be said at your funeral? I listened to an hour full of Bible verses and rosary repetition at my father’s funeral. There was nothing said about his life because I guess there was nothing to say.

You don’t have to be the richest or the smartest, you don’t have to climb Everest or invent a Shark Tank phenomenon, you don’t have to be the founder of a company, you don’t have to cure a disease…life is so meaningless unless you spread kindness, unless you love and are loved, unless you are remembered…

Hardly any people came to my father’s funeral. Most people who did show up were there to support my grandparents, one who doesn’t remember who I am and one who disowned me when I asked my dad to adopt me a couple years ago. Uncomfortable doesn’t really quite explain how I felt, sitting in the back of a near-empty funeral home room, seeing framed photos of a man who I vaguely resemble. Depressed, angry, annoyed, disgusted—there’s not one adjective that I could pin down and actually FEEL. I’ve never wanted to be in a room less, and that made me feel sad for him. And for my grandparents. It must be heartbreaking to outlive your children. Even more heartbreaking I suppose for there to be nothing to say at their funeral.

I guess that’s what I felt: sad. What most people feel at funerals, but a completely different kind of sadness really. I’m not sad that he’s gone—I’m sad that he’s always been gone. I’m not really sad for my loss—I’m sad for his.

An Open Letter to My Grandparents

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Dear abuelitos,
     I can’t believe you’re not speaking to me. I’ve called you multiple times and left voicemails, texted you, and I mailed you a letter. No response. The last time I called, you ended the call after it rang a couple times. I didn’t think you could “break up” with your granddaughter, but I guess that IS a thing. I thought “ghosting” was only something in the online dating world, but apparently, it’s not reserved to 20-somethings who don’t know how to be honest or have real conversations.
     I’ve been ghosted by my grandparents. It’s actually kind of funny. Or it would be, if the reason wasn’t so absurd, mind-blowing, and hurtful.
     I asked my dad to adopt me last month. He’s been my dad for 22 years–almost my entire life. It was such a happy moment and we all cried tears of joy, knowing that this was only making paper-official what has been heart-official for over two decades. We went to court, stood before a judge, and threw a small party to celebrate. Everyone was over the moon, sending us their well wishes and congratulations. Everyone except you, I guess. You decided to cut me out of your life instead.
     What confuses me the most is that we’ve talked about your son, my biological father, on many occasions. You’ve apologized to me for his actions and his absence. We’ve talked about his drug use, we’ve talked about his violence toward my mother, and we’ve talked about how he hasn’t made any attempt to reenter my life or get to know me in any way. If he was half a man, he’d thank my dad for doing his job for him.
     Despite my resentment toward him, I contacted him, to try to find out why you were ignoring me. He didn’t respond. I guess social media is the only way to reach you–that seems to be the way you found out about the adoption. You definitely didn’t talk to me about it. I can’t get ahold of you at all, so I’m hoping this letter makes its way to you.
     My dad has done so much for me in 22 years–do you even realize what he’s done? Your son never paid a cent of child support (which you said you’d do for him, but then never did). My dad is the reason I’m not in extreme debt–he helped me through college, he helped me buy a car, not to mention feeding me, clothing me, putting a roof over my head…you know, the usual Dad duties.
     More importantly, my dad has been my shoulder to cry on. He’s held my hand, hugged me tight, and bandaged my injuries more times than I could possibly count. He was there through both of my surgeries. He knows all my friends. He knew my boyfriends. He answers his phone every time I call.
      I am grateful for your son, for giving me life. I am grateful for his creativity, which I’m told he had much of–some people say that creativity is passed on, some say I’ve acquired it through my life experiences. I’m not sure, but if the former is true, then I am grateful. I am grateful to keep my last name, which connects me to my Mexican heritage. And I was grateful for my relationship with you–my grandparents–even though we didn’t have a relationship for years and I felt like you’d abandoned me just like your son did. But for the past few years especially, I’ve loved the relationship we’d formed. And now you’re gone again, like you never existed at all.
      How odd it is to only have half a family. It’s something I’ve struggled with all my life. Most of the time, I feel OK, I feel whole. Aunt Gigi helped with that–she, as you know, has always been an important person in my life. She stuck by our side after Mom decided to get a divorce. She’s never been absent from my life. And now you’ve taken her away from me too. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse–you blocked my number at her house. I used to talk to her on the phone almost every day.
     I didn’t know you could be so heartless. It astounds me that your blood is my blood; I came from you. We are the same yet so, so different.
     I will probably never hear from you again, and that’s fine. Well, it’s not fine, but if that’s your choice, then I will live with it. All I can do is hope that one day, you’ll realize the senseless pain you’ve caused. Or maybe, since you claim to be good Catholics, it will be God who helps you to realize this when you meet him at the gates one day. I have never wanted more for Him to be real.
     Sincerely,
your granddaughter

The C Word

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Cancer is that thing you hear about- on TV, movies, or from friends about friends of friends. You never think it’ll be you or YOUR parents. And if it is, you imagine it’ll just be a scare or a simple, no-brainer, caught it early type deal.

My dad is my stepdad, as most people know. Although once, at a wedding, a man said, “This your daughter? I can tell, you have the same smile.” Me and dad looked at each other and grinned. If he meant we both had lips and teeth, well sure. But dad is a 60-something Santa look-alike with baby blue eyes and a Texan tattoo.

Anyway, I obviously love the guy with all my heart and up until now, I kind of thought he was invincible. My parents, lovely tight-lipped haoles, thought it’d be best to wait until I was home for Christmas to tell me that Dad has prostate cancer.

Big mistake. 1. I’d just spent 12 hours on a plane. 2. Of course I’m going to be pissed that the whole damn family knows except me. 3. Dad made me think he was giving me a present.

Let me explain #3. Mom’s usually the one who buys me gifts, unless it has to do with technology or cars in any way. This is rare, since those things are usually expensive, and this is when Dad takes over. Whenever this happens, he’s like a small child. He cannot wait to give me the gift and he pesters Mom until she says, “Ok, fine!” This is exactly how he was acting all day. I was like, hell yeah, I’m about to get a new laptop or a kindle! What an extreme opposite to a gift.

At that point, I was bawling, yelling, and getting away with cussing all at the same time. Total psychotic episode. That is the only time in my life that my parents haven’t severely scolded me for saying “fuck.”

I was pissed that they hadn’t told me, but I was even more pissed that Dad hadn’t taken action yet. He has some great points and explanations about “his plan,” but I don’t really care. I’d rather the doctors chop off the entire lower half of his body if it meant he’d be alive longer. I don’t care that it’s his body and I don’t care about the nasty side effects. However, I apparently don’t get an opinion on my dad’s genitals. Go figure.

I realized that for them to sit me down and tell me this—and for Mom to be crying while they did so—this was obviously a lot more serious than Dad was letting on. They’ve both had cancer scares before. Dad even had to have a kidney removed. But those times either a) really weren’t that big of a deal, b) they were much better liars back then, or c) I was a naïve idiot. I’m going to go with a mix of all three.

Dad will probably not like that I wrote all this but… the way I see it, I need to cover all bases. I don’t pray. But I admit that I very well could be wrong about this God character. I’m probably not, but just in case, I need as many people out there who DO pray to pray.

If you don’t know my dad very well and you’d like to make your prayer more personable, here are some solid facts you’re welcome to use:

  1. Dad’s middle name is LeRoy. He despises it and using it to his face WILL get you a death glare.
  2. Dad loves Obama, vegetarian foods, marijuana, and Diet Coke. He wants to outlaw guns and move somewhere more his style, like L.A. He wishes he could spend more time at the beach, shopping, or volunteering in Africa with Hilary Clinton.
  3. He is the utter opposite of #2.
  4. Dad likes to seem tough, and he definitely can be. But at heart, he’s a complete teddy bear who cried when I wrote him a really cheesy poem once.
  5. Fishing, poker, and television crime shows. Obsessed.
  6. He has never treated me like a “stepdaughter”—I don’t really know what that even means really. All I know is that I can’t tell the difference between our relationship and the relationship all my friends have with their “blood fathers.” He definitely stepped up to the plate and filled a void in my life and I love him so much more for that.

All jokes aside, I’m scared shitless. I tried to make this blog lighthearted so that it wouldn’t be a completely depressing read. I love hiding my emotions behind humor! But I’ve never lost anyone in my life. I was too young to even remember when my great-grandparents died, or my Uncle Rick. I am definitely not ready to lose my dad.

SO BACK OFF, CANCER, YOU STUPID BITCH!

I’m sure he’ll be fine, as the doctor has apparently assured. Prostate cancer has a very high survival rate and Dad is more badass than most men. He’s been shot, he’s jumped out of helicopters to save lives, etc. etc. But I’d still appreciate the prayer thing. Or, ya’ know, whatever you think will help. Voodoo doll personifying cancer, spells, curses, meditation, light a candle… I don’t know very much about religions, this is clear. Or you can just give him a hug next time you see him! Or a Facebook hug, those are nice too.

Love you Milton LEROY Thompson Junior AKA Dad!:)