Monday, October 9, 2006

Dealing With Death in My Own Way

It's October again. Since childhood, this has been my favorite time of the year, with its cooler temperatures and impending holiday season. But because both of my parents ending up dying in October, it's also a bittersweet time for me.

My father died in the middle of October several years ago, after an unsuccessful attempt to recover from a massive heart attack and emergency bypass surgery he'd had the previous July. Indeed, I now believe that he only lasted as long as he did because of his stubborn nature -- no one can say that he didn't try to get better. But I think once he realized that all the will in the world would not return him to the life he'd known before, he just slipped away, once he'd accepted that fact.

It had been an exhausting and stressful three months, hoping against hope that he'd eventually turn a corner and begin to improve, despite all indications to the contrary. It was exhausting to see the person who loved me most in the world to teeter so long at the brink of death, never quite knowing whether he'd beat the odds or not. It was stressful for other reasons as well; during this time, his relatives showed their true colors and openly expressed their disapproval of me, at a time when I didn't need to be dealing with such things. Oh, I'd always known the sentiment was there, but as long as my father was alive and in full possession of his faculties, they'd dared not express it openly. But no sooner than his grave condition became known, their discretion was gone and the gloves came off.

After he died, we had a memorial service for him here, with the funeral to be held a few days later in another state, where he was to join my mother for burial. My son and I were to accompany him there on his last flight.

At the memorial service were many people I didn't know, along with the relatives from his side of the family, and some friends. One of my lovers at the time also came to support me in my hour of need, even though she'd never met my father.

After the service, there was a gathering at my father's house, complete with food and drinks. I drove my son over there, but I had no intention of staying and making nice with the relatives who'd only added to my burden in the previous three months. I'd spoken with the lover mentioned above right after the service and she'd invited me to come to her house and I'd accepted.

As I turned to leave after dropping my son off, one busybody aunt who'd given me a particularly bad time during my father's illness called out, "Where are you going?" in the same tone of voice one would use when catching a dog shitting on the living room rug. Not wanting to create a scene, I ignored her, got into my car and sped off.

I spent the afternoon in bed with the lover, drowning my sorrows in the pleasures of sex. It's always been natural for me to turn to sex as a balm to soothe any kind of problem I might be having, as well as enjoying it for a host of various other reasons. Sex also represents hope and life to me, and these were two things I most needed to remind myself of on that particular day. Nevertheless, this day was one of the few times I ever did the deed with tears in my eyes.

I returned to my father's house a few hours later to pick up my son and take him home. My busybody aunt was in the kitchen doing dishes as I came in and lit into me immediately, correctly guessing what I'd gone to do. In a loud voice, she told me what a miserable excuse for a human being I was and how could I go off and "tomcat" on a day like this, blah, blah, blah, blah. All this was said in front of my not quite fifteen year old son, and the relatives that were still lingering.

Still, I didn't want to get into a shouting match with her, as my father's widow didn't need to deal with that, so I merely told her to go to hell and motioned my son out the door and we left.

This aunt had, for all intents and purposes, become the family matriarch after my grandmother had passed away in the late 80s. After this day, and apparently because of her influence, none of the family has had anything to do with me.

I can't say that I miss them.


No comments: