I’m in a funk. There’s so much background information to go with the baggage, I don’t know where to begin. I’ll try to make the background part short; I have to include it or you’ll have no idea why I am in such a funk about all this today.
My biodad (aka absentee father) lives in Illinois. He and my mom divorced the summer after I finished fifth grade. He was a violent alcoholic, with bi-polar disorder to boot, and did not want the responsibility of a family; he pretty much told mom it wasn’t important enough to him to make the changes the family counselors told him he needed to make. Mom and I lived in the same town for a while, but it was awful.
I would visit my father and find heaps of dirty, stinky dishes waiting for me to come and wash them. And all his laundry, and all sorts of other odd jobs. I’m all for kids having responsibilities, don’t get me wrong. But he made it very obvious that I owed him these, and that my visiting him and doing anything while visiting him was contingent on my doing his junk. I had to earn my time with him, basically.
He bought stuff for me after the divorce, but I had to keep it at his house. He knew I loved drawing, so he bought me a nice drafting table and chair — Oh, yes, it was mine….But I could not take it to the home where I spent the majority of my time. It was like that with almost everything. On one occasion, I took something he gave me home — I don’t remember exactly what it was, but it might have been a little radio. He went into a rage and came to our apartment, pounding on the door and yelling curses in the hallway. I was terrified.
Whenever I’d have a weekend at his house, mom had to stick close to the phone because she never knew when I’d call and want her to come and get me. I couldn’t stand being with him and his craziness, so I’d often take off and call mom from the gas station a few blocks from his house. This went on for a couple years. I starting skipping school and getting in trouble at school when I was there; mom was concerned with some of the kids I was starting to hang out with and decided to move us to Ohio, where my grandparents lived.
That was in August 1981, and the move to buckeye country was my saving grace. I was still a messed up kid, and gravitated toward the partying crowd at the high school I attended, but it was miles better having miles between my father any us. At first, he wrote to me. And I visited him a few times, but I remember one time was such a bitter disappointment I came home weeks before I was scheduled to fly home. His letters eventually ceased and I went years without hearing anything from him.
Every once in a while, when he was at a mental low, he’d call or write (long, sloppy letters full of disjointed thoughts, letters I could hardly follow). My husband and I visited him in Illinois once in 1995, but that’s the last time I’ve seen him.
Fast forward to fall of 1997, when I got a call from my father’s sister. She told me he was so depressed he could not function, and she asked if I would mind if she became his guardian. Would I mind?! I gladly gave her that responsibility, believe me. He was in a nursing home from 1997 through December 2001.
Unbeknownst to me until he called me last year, he learned he has parkinson’s disease. He also had brain surgery to implant electrodes to control the tremors from it. He called me out of the blue to tell me all this. The surgery left his voice slurred and hard to understand, but he was glad to put up with that in exchange for being able to use his hands again.
So now, this man who is basically a stranger to me now also doesn’t even sound like the father I knew while I was growing up. That made it doubly weird and icky. Still, I am a softy and thought it might bring him comfort to talk once in a while, and figured what’s the harm in his calling me every so often to chat? So I sent him the occasional letter and pictures, and called once in a while on holidays.
There’s no way he was in any shape to live on his own, but he browbeat his sister and his caseworker until they finally relented and agreed that he could try living on his own in a government subsidized apartment. Prior to this, he’d obsessed so much about his “stuff” that his sister had to get her number changed so they could have some peace. The “stuff” was the belongings his sister and BIL stored for him at their house after they had to go through the monumental task of clearing out his junk-filled shack and selling the house. But he is obsessive compulsive along with being manic depressive, so to him it was a huge deal and he could not let anything go.
Well, it was a big ol’ mistake, turning that man loose on his own. One of the biggest mistakes in the History Of Mankind. Once he had a phone, he started calling me all the time, sometimes several times within a day. And it was always such stupid stuff he wanted to talk about, just to hear my voice I suppose. You have to remember, I have no history with this man, other than really bad history. He is not a person I would want to befriend were I to have a brief conversation with him in a the supermarket checkout line.
Completely self-centered, and completely irresponsible with his money, he spent on stupid things (like caller ID, all sorts of new stuff for his house, etc.) despite his being on a fixed income. When his social security checks got messed up, he fell behind in his rent, lost his phone service, had shut-off notices for his utilities…And then he called me from a payphone, begging me to consider opening a joint account with him and being his joint-payee (a requirement since he’s mentally ill). We could not assume that sort of financial risk – I mean, holy cow!
And he also drove his sister and BIL crazy with his rantings and his demands. His sister started getting migraines daily from the stress of it all. She already has a retarded adult son living at home with her, and this was just icing on the cake. The final straw was when my father wrote a threatening letter to them, saying he’d have to come to their house with armed guards so he could get his belongings back from them. This scared them, and they had restraining orders filed against him, cutting off any contact. She also turned in his last social security check to the local SS office and wrote the judge telling him she no longer wishes to be his guardian.
I don’t blame them. But he is so far gone, he has no idea why they would do it. He has all these delusions about how his BIL has brainwashed his sister against him, how he thinks he can have an electrical contracting business again…Just all these weird, unrealistic thoughts and ideas. And when he got emergency funds from SS until things were straightened around, he paid his PHONE BILL, not his rent. Priceless, but hey – that’s him in a nutshell.
Okay, that pretty much brings us up to the present. Regarding his insistance that he could go into business again, he talked me into saying I’d make him some business cards. Well, that’s not exactly fair to say; he said he wanted to get some, and I said I could make them. I was being sucked into his little act, and feeling sorry for him. I thought, what would it hurt for me to make up a few cards for him if it will make him feel better? Yeah, you can see the pattern. I put off doing them because I had some other responsibilities I needed to take care of first.
All this time, I’d been talking with my friend Angie about all the crap with him, and she was challenging me to examine why I even stayed in contact with him when all it did was suck me dry. What was my motivation, anyway? Some misguided, guilt-ridden feeling that he was family and that I owed it to him. I didn’t want to send him the cards, yet I’d told him I would. I printed them, but then stuck them in an envelope on my desk while I tried to be more objective.
He started sending cards, supposedly get-well cards and such, but all were covered with references to his wanting his cards. That just made me want to drag my feet even more.
Finally, one day he called me. He wanted me to type a letter for him to send to his building’s manager. I told him I was not involved, could not be involved, being two states away. He replied, “Oh, but you ARE involved”. That was the last straw. I really let him have it, telling him how I felt about him. I told him all the crap that’s been in my heart for years, all the frustrations, all the anger. All the vile sewage I’d never told him. He was quiet for a while and then said, “So are you going to still send me my cards?”
I launched into another diatribe, this time about his incredible self-centeredness. I did tell him I would send him his cards, but ONLY beause I’d promised him them. Finally, he got off the phone. I didn’t hear anything for a while, a few weeks I think. Then he started sending cards again, along with packages of junk — all with notes about his danged cards.
OK. So, last week I sent him the latest packet (a bunch of assorted greeting cards with the occasions crossed out and written in by hand – just crazy stuff – and all with notes on them about his business cards), along with his cards, and the following note, which I had my husband mail Saturday while he was out. It was a long time in coming — far too long, in fact — and I did not want the opportunity to chicken out and change my mind.
The only reason I am sending these is I already printed them and it would be wasteful to do otherwise. Also, I keep the promises I make. That said, and these cards mailed, I am done.
I would prefer not to have contact with you at this time. For a while I made a go of it, but I have nothing to give anymore. There is too much sadness and anger in the memories I do have, and I have no desire to forge new ones.
Please respect my wishes. I will return any further mail and don’t wish for you to lose the postage costs.
My father called today and left two messages on our answering machine. The first said he knows I don’t want to talk to him, but he got the cards and the greeting cards from me, but he didn’t get his drill. And he just wondered where that was. Then he called again a few minutes later and said he wants me to mail him back this Mikita drill, priority mail or first class, and this week because he needs it back now.
Ummmmmm. I don’t think so. He sent this drill to my husband and I as a gift. It’s an old cordless power drill he’d had and he sent it to us as a gift. This is just SO damned like him.
OK. Well, I believe this explains my funkdom. I already have the health concerns going on, and now he’s going to call and harass us for his drill. We’re going to get a modem which supports caller-ID and have it set to sound like an out-of-service phone number when his number dials us. If he gets sneaky like he did when his sister got caller ID because of him (calling from payphones or other places so they would not see his number), we’ll change our number. I don’t want anything to do with this man. I have truly reached the end of my rope with him; I tried, with all best intentions, to help him, but he abused it and started sucking me dry, just like he has the rest of his family and friends. It is no wonder no one wants to have anything to do with him any more.
It’s really sad.