Monday, May 18, 2009
I drove down to Dover, Delaware on Saturday to spend some "quality time" with my father and step-mom.
All families are complicated, each in their own unique and often horrifying way. Mine is no exception.
My birth mom and my dad were divorced while I was still gestating in the womb. Throughout my childhood my mother, a bitter young woman with a severe drinking problem, used me as a pawn in her relations with her ex husband, her mother and anyone else who got in her way. I know that, and I forgive her for that. It ruined me in many ways, but there's no going back and undoing it. I am nearly incapable of having trusting intimate relations with sexually desirable people as a direct result of that childhood. When push comes to shove, I can't let anyone in... and more importantly, I can't let myself out.
But still, I try.
Eventually I did meet my shadow family consisting of my dad, my stepmom whom I love dearly and my should-have-been siblings, my sister and our younger brother. Over the years we have gotten closer and more loving.
As my sobriety has ripened, I have learned more and more about the important things in life, such as family and friends.
Dad has started having more and more hospital episodes over the last couple of years. This year my siblings had to fly down to Ft. Myers in Florida to literally rescue the folks and drive them home because dad was physically incapable of doing it.
Mom is no help. She never bothered to get a driver's license and, recently, her memory has started to go. She really needs to be watched at all times now. This will only get worse. In fact, both of them are only going to get worse, and to be honest, it will be in very short order.
After they came home from Florida my sister suggested that each of us go to Dover to spend some quality time with them. I knew what that meant. It meant my sister suspects that the end is near for one or both of them and now would be a good time to show them that they are still loved and that they are still a relevant part of their children's lives. I know, from personal childhood experience, what it means to feel like a fifth wheel in life.
I prayed all week about it. I asked God to take charge of the visit on Saturday and to help me keep my mouth zippered shut, to smile, to be loving and considerate and compassionate, to not have any agendas, and to be of service however I could.
Well, God held up His end of the bargain. I sailed through the day, even though were trying times at the drug store and supermarket. I showered them with affection, verbally and physically, whenever the opportunity arose.
Maybe I am learning about letting people in a little bit. Or even better, maybe I'm learning how to let myself out.
But I do know that I'm going to cry like a baby if... when anything happens to either of them.