One thing I don’t like about my family is their secretive nature. I know, pot, kettle; I’ve had my fair share of secrets too. They tend to hold back the truly important things and repeat the nonsense. Anyway, at some point between 1987 and 1988, my dad was diagnosed with Cancer. Nobody told me! I was eleven, but I think I could’ve handled knowing that. I sure all the adults were aware, not too sure about my siblings. One day my mom found him passed out on the floor. She is amazed to this day that she was able to get him up and get him help. I guess it’s true; there is strength in love. My dad spent months in the hospital. Mind you, I never knew that exact reason he was there. The guy was sick and the hospital would make him better. In reality, he was dying.
Things with my sister were still crazy. She was a shadow of her former self. Yet, I could recognize my sister through her pain. Why wouldn’t I? I had my own secret pain; I understood on some level. Oh yes, I was still being abused. Sex had become a routine thing for me. He would stay the weekend and I was his. Things at home were intense, uneasy. My mom and grandmother started to see things go missing. It got real serious when it became money.
My grandmother was retired and Mom spent less time at work to care for my dad. So, three incomes dwelled down to one. My mom stuck by her husband, must have been difficult. I would go with her to the hospital to visit. Besides, she needed me; I was her version of GPS Navigation. Crazy me, I was fascinated by maps when I was young. I read them all the time. I’ll tell anybody to this day, it is impossible for me to get lost. I remember my dad being released from the hospital. We went to pick him up. He stopped at a deli and got a pastrami sandwich. He ate it and promptly threw it up. My dad was coming home to die.
My father was home for a while before he ended up back in the hospital. He and my sister went through the motions, many angry words were spoken. I don’t recall when he went back, he did and I continued to visit. My other siblings didn’t go as much as I did. The last time I would see him was a cold day in November. It was right before the holidays. I remember the night like it was yesterday. I was in the kitchen with my grandmother and the phone rang. That one phone called changed everything. And for my grandmother, I cannot imagine what it is like to tell her daughter that her husband was gone. She did it the only way a mother could. I cried my eyes out that night. I’m sure we all did.
This was my first experience with the loss of someone close. I became depressed. I remember not eating for days. I was hurting so bad. I hadn’t slept in days. I helped with funeral arrangements anyway I could. This really helped me to cope.
As the pain of loss set in, I took comfort in the pleasure of my abuse. I was eleven and puberty was in full swing. Not only was I giving him pleasure, I was receiving it too. I loved him for easing my pain. Nobody else seemed to care as they were wrecked with their own grief. The pain and hurt of my dad’s passing superseded anything my abuser had done to me. I stop being a victim, even though I still was. He filled a void and it was easy to let him. In all the years he never uttered a threatening word; he always was gentle. My father was put to rest in a dignified way. Lots of friends and family attended, but one person was missing. My sister did not come to her father’s funeral. Why didn’t she come? Another question I’ll never get an answer to. I do know that it hurt my mom very deeply. She brings up the topic every once in awhile. This was a breaking point for the rest of the family. My aunts felt that enough was enough; my mom had all she could take. So they packed my sisters stuff and put her out the house. My family became smaller and more fractured. I took my comfort where I could get it.