My father is definitely sick. He’s definitely on his way down, but he’s upbeat and optimistic…. making plans.
He’s also not telling the whole truth. There’s a lump in his neck, and he says he went into the hospital for a day and he had a biopsy. He claims they gave him results negative for cancer the same day….
Now, I know pap smears take weeks, so I don’t know how a biopsy could produce results in less than 24 hours?
I don’t think so. My father is lying, and it’s because he doesn’t want anyone to make a fuss over him. Or maybe he has reasons of his own for lying, the point is… there’s a lump in his neck.
My mother confirms his physical deterioration, and well… this is unlikely to get better.
He is also very anxious to make a will–yet another reason to suspect that he knows that he’s sick and is hiding it from everyone–and of course, I am the only one able to provide the money to get it done.
A few years ago, I brought up this whole issue of the will, and he shook me off saying that it wasn’t time for it yet. Now that he is calling for it with urgency, is serious. Dead serious, no pun intended.
I am less shattered than I was last week. Last week I felt devastated…. desolate.
My contract ends on Monday next week, and I don’t have anything lined up, and just enough money to live on for a month, maybe six weeks if I squeeze.
I’m sure I’ll get something else, because this big multi-national I’ve been working for for the last four months (cool… alliteration) looks real good on my CV… it’s had a halo effect.
When I first came up hear I think I sent out 300 CVs and got 5 or 6 calls. I’ve sent out about a hundred CVs in the last 6 weeks and got about 60 calls. Even when I went a week or two without sending out any.
Children, I don’t know when I am going to get a lil ease off. I under real pressure right now.
Worrying about work and money and the dreadful prospect of my father’s ‘mysterious’ illness, are two tension points and I am vibrating between them like a tuning fork.
Ai ya! Pressure is made for tyres and water pipes not people.
I have rededicated myself to my Ancestral veneration. I know they can’t change things, but they can’t give me the strength to face these challenges. They can help me find it in myself, because they are me and their powers go beyond the material world.
I am trying not to worry too much, but ti’s too hard.
Mostly, I am just eager for this contract to end and I can stop the long haul on the train. When I first came up here, I was completely fascinated by the transport system. After four months of super commuting, I must confess my fascination has waned considerably.
I am worried about my Daddy. I know he misses me, and my mother says that his condition is such–his drinking complicating his diabetes, exasperated by this mysterious illness–that he could slip…
I know he wanted an excuse to die. My father has been programmed for self-destruction from an early age, and his inability to express love and recieve it in a healthy functioning way could easily have set me up for the same. However, what he didn’t have for himself I got on his behalf, and that is resilience in terms of life’s ability to poison one’s spirit.
I wrote this article more than ten 10 ago about my father:
Better that he stayed away
By N’DELAMIKO LORD
MY father is a stranger to me. Oh, I know who he is, where he lives and the outline of his character. But I don’t truly know who he is.
I was four years old when my parents separated and I remember my father as being the centre of my world. He was the parent who seemingly spoiled me, my mother was the disciplinarian.
When they separated, my world fell apart. My mother, my brother and I left Trinidad in 1978. I was not to return for the next 12 years.
My mother did not explain clearly many things: Why we had to leave, why I couldn’t see my father anymore, why I had to leave all my friends. I did not understand. She was probably trying to protect me from the truth of what had happened, but at four, I couldn’t understand.
During the first few years after we left, I saw my father a few times, but after the last visit in 1982, I didn’t see him until I was 16. I remember my excitement.
I was finally going to see my father. The man I had been dreaming of for so long. A hero, my dad. When I saw him, I could hardly believe it. He was small and thin. At 51, he looked like 71. He looked sick. It just couldn‘t really be him! My mind rebelled.
The visit was odd. I was glad to finally know him, but I couldn’t reconcile who he was with whom I remembered and whom I had hoped for.
When he came to see us in 1982, he was charming. He took us to the circus and bought us anything we wanted. He spent time with us, played with us. I thought he would be the same.
But the truth is, I spent very little time with him and when I did, I had to contend with his old-fashioned sexism and the occasional rearing up of his acute alcoholism.
I spent my childhood romanticising my father. Whenever my mother and I fought, I would dream of him coming for me and “rescuing me from the tyranny of my mother, and the horror of my life”.
He was this perfect person, he could do no wrong. I suppose I refused to notice that he hardly wrote, and that he forgot many birthdays, Christmases and momentous occasions.
It was so hard for me. I missed him or rather the idea of him so much. Not having my father around, left a gaping hole in my life.
My mother struggled to make up for it, but she didn’t know how to explain that it was a better decision that she made, to leave him, for the alternative would have been far more disastrous.
At that age, understanding what domestic violence and my father’s alcoholism had done to my mother, was not something I could do. I ended up blaming her for so much.
I was sure she was the reason why I never saw my father. I was sure she had done something to drive him away, and that she was keeping us apart.
There was nothing that she could have done that would have made a difference. She took the blame for my father. Mom never deserved that, but I was a child.
My father is a brilliant man. He can grasp philosophical concepts with the best of the world’s thinkers. He is a poet, a writer, a musician, an artist, and a waste.
It breaks my heart to see him, because everytime, I see him, I think what he could have been, if he had been given a fair chance.
But the world is linear, and my father is a non-linear person, (from him I inherited my non-linear personality, and my ears), so he has remained on the periphery of who he really is.
I have not been able to forgive him for missing my life, for wasting his genius. I haven’t forgiven him for not being my father, when I really needed him. But then I am not different from the millions of children now, and those who have gone before, who have remained angry with men, fathers, who abandoned them in their moment of need.
The few times I tried to speak to him about how I felt, he gave me an excuse. He stayed away because it would have hurt me more to have him around. Maybe he was right, but it didn’t soothe the pain.
We children of divorce share a common bond, this anger. For many of us, this is what motivates and fuels our ambitions. For me, I haven’t been able to let go of my fury, because it feels as though I would be letting my father off the hook.
It seems life and his own lack of faith in himself have done that for him. Let him exist without feeling regret for the mistakes he has made.
Intellectually, I know that my anger hurts me, not him. He has no concept of the magnitude of his mistakes, but I don’t know how to exorcise it. How do I let go? What happens if I do?
I cannot conceive of a relationship beyond what we have now, and that seems the saddest part. In my heart, I still harbour the dream that he will suddenly realise what he has done and become the father I have always wanted.
However, though pessimism is not a personality trait of mine, I know he’ll never be that, and I suppose I can’t forgive him for that either.
DATE: Mon 12-Jun-1995
Published in the Trinidad Guardian.
It was a few days before his birthday and I didn’t see him for weeks after this was published.
I went down to the ‘Plannings’ (the housing project now 60 years old, and turned semi-middle class) where he grew up, and where I saw the world for the first time and remembered, and saw him on the road leading into the neighbourhood. He walked past me like he didn’t know me.
About 3 years later, when my oldest friend’s mother died and I flew down to see and be with her, my father and I made peace over that article.
However, he still brings it out–and old wound–to be examined when he is stumbling around drunk and 1am and looking for someone to sing in Spanish to, and to remind us all how much damage was done to him.
I wounded him to write those things about him and have it published in a national newspaper. My father, the ex-revolutionary soldier, Black Power man turned alcoholic and crack addicted.
This is still my Daddy. I have that story to tell you all, about how when I was a little girl, my Daddy was this big man. I was his only little girl, and his special baby and how we went almost everywhere together.
It’s true. That happened.
But some of my earliest memories are of him, drunk, of him hitting my mother and the violence that existed around me as a child.
My mother wasn’t wrong. He wasn’t wrong to stay away. If we had grown up in that, I would be a different person.
He told me after we left Trinidad, he became suicidal. He said he missed me most and I had to listen to him pour out the torment. It’s then I understood the tragedy of the African descended man in the West. My father is an example of all that is good in them, and all that is bad.
He is brilliant. His mind is so quick; he is so knowledgeable on the history of the African ‘race’, but he himself has succumbed to the demons that plague in the wake of slavery, even two hundred years after the fact.
It’s not all history. That can be a convenient excuse. My father chose his life. He made his bed and lay in it.
I cannot recriminate him at this point. My father made his choices and we had to live with them, but they don’t define me. My own choices define me.
:sigh: This will be a slow process, I think. I don’t know if I could deal with the kind of mercifully short of losing Keffi again. She was too sweet to suffer too much, after her acute suffering prior.
My father, for all his self destructiveness, will suck the most that he can out of this incarnation before he departs. We have made our peace. He and I have talked out all that we had to.
I guess I just have to learn to live without him. I’ve done it most my life, so the physical part won’t be hard. It’s the psychological reality of losing him to death I’m going to need to get used to.