Family

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A Letter My Father Will Never Read

Published June 19, 2017 by dividinguplife

Dear Dad,

I find it ironic that your cancer is what pushed us together as the end draws near. How much time do we have left? Three months? Six? More? Less? Every time I see you, your face has become more hollow. You can’t even sit in a chair comfortably anymore, because there’s no meat there. You are a walking skeleton that pushes away any help extended towards you. By “growing closer” I mean that I have seen you more in the past year than I have in my thirty-one years of life. How many times has it been since last July? Five or six, maybe. Five or six times we have been in the same room together, laughing at the same things. Five or six times in a year, which is more than I ever saw you before. 

There’s no time left. Not when you shut us all out. How can their be dignity in dying alone? Whenever I ask you if you need anything, you tell me that you have everything you need – and yet there is nobody there to help you. When you eat, you throw up. When you take your medication, you become constipated. You refused chemo and radiation, and then when it got bad, you wanted it … but it was too late. Why are you so stubborn? 

The other day I had chest pain from a pulled muscle. Rather than bothering my husband, I drove myself to the emergency room to be checked out. I laughed to myself because I had just jumped on your ass about going to the emergency room without letting anyone know. it made me sad to realize that I am so much like you, and yet I am just learning these small things that genetically, yet uniquely match us together. 

I know that I like to write, like you do. I know that I’m stubborn and very introverted, like you are. 

But I also know I am unlike you in so many ways. Unlike you and my mom, actually. I never abandoned my daughter. My grandmother (your own mom) lives with me and has for almost five years, because you wouldn’t let her live with you. I wouldn’t have it any other way, either. I’ve dedicated my life to healthcare so that I can have a small role in helping others. I’m not selfish in the love that I give to other people. 

I forgave you years ago, though the pain has always lie dormant in the recesses of my heart. Your explanation of your abandonment was sufficient enough for you to have the forgiveness you needed before you passing, but a small part of me will never understand why I wasn’t good enough for you to want. You say you love me, and yet I feel nothing from you. What’s worse is that I feel nothing towards you. I feel sadness that you’re dying. I feel sadness that we have a small amount of time left, and yet you still won’t let me in. I feel even more abandoned than before. We have opportunity to spend every minute together that we can, and you still don’t want to. Why? 

My handsome, introverted, selfish, stubborn father. How you have molded and shaped the person I am today just by simply not being there for me. I became stronger because of it. I learned what not to do. I learned that sometimes someone needs the forgiveness you aren’t sure you can give – but you give it anyway. Selflessness thinks of the other person, always. That’s what I have done. When you die, you will be able to go knowing that I don’t blame you for the choices you made in regard to me. You will die knowing that I will be okay, and that I will take care of your mother until she dies. When you die, you will leave behind a lot of unanswered questions because of your refusal to open up to any of us. 

And somehow, we will all still be less, because of your absence. 

 

-C 

30 Years of Packing

Published June 2, 2017 by dividinguplife

For the past week I’ve been helping my grandpa pack up his house. A house I have grown up in. I spent almost every weekend at his house for fifteen plus years. This is the grandpa that isn’t my blood, but is more important than that. Not to mention he helped me out with an attorney when I had my surprise court date for shit I didn’t even know I was in trouble for.

He has three kids and countless grandchildren. Not one of them have offered to help him pack his house. We have three weeks left to get it done, though he hopes to be out sooner. It’s a house that has lived in for over thirty years. I’ve spent about eleven hours this week packing, and have gotten about fifty boxes done. What’s left? Everything that he has shoved into drawers, closets, and his attic. *sighs* …. but what can you do? He has nobody else that will help him. He’s in his mid-seventies, so our days consist of me pulling everything out and him telling me stories about all of it. Most of them I remember anyway, because I was a child when most of this stuff was bought. I know the stories, but I enjoy listening to them anyway. I’m enjoying spending time with him. 

Julie Grandpa

My grandpa and my daughter about five years ago. She’s taller than him, now. 

House

I used to stand at that kitchen sink on a step-stool beside my grandma and help her wash dishes. 

My grandma and my grandpa lived together for twenty-five years. They never married for whatever reason. But they were together before I was born. So, naturally when my own paternal grandfather flaked out of my life, it didn’t really matter to me because I already had this man. Clothes, diapers, formula … you name it. He was there. He always has been. Even when he decided ten years ago that he wanted to live alone, which meant my grandma had to move out, he has stuck by both of our sides. 

Now he’s moving away, about an hour and a half … which isn’t that far, but right now he’s only twenty minutes away. 

My daughter turns 13 on Sunday. I feel old as hell. I’ll be 32 next month, so I know I’m young. But I really can’t figure out where the time went. She was a baby. I don’t remember a lot about the past 13 years – they’ve gone by in a blur. She will have a learners permit in two years, a license in three. She will be a damn adult in five years. What in the hell is this?

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Julie2Julie3

Not many people will admit shit like this – but I do ….. I never wanted to have children. I don’t know if I was scared that I would give my kids the same life that I was given, or if it was just because I didn’t want to be responsible for another human life. Whatever the reason was, when I ended up pregnant at 18, I was excited and scared all at the same time. Admittedly, I could have been a much better mom than I was in the beginning. I never neglected her, I never beat her … but there were days that I would find myself so mad at my own damn self for having a child because God forbid I couldn’t sleep in. Or because daycare cost so much. My dreams of college went out the window. I had to work full-time because I had no family support to speak of. My own family was 50 shades of fucked up and neglect. 

But I tell you something – at this moment, having her was the best decision I ever made. She made me grow up, she has shown me what unconditional love really means. She makes me laugh, she makes me proud with her stellar grades. I love those rare moments when she opens up to me about a person she likes at school, or when one of the girls at her school is acting like a bitch and she wants to complain about it. I love when we are going somewhere and she takes over the radio and plays her crap music (though some of it isn’t half bad). I’m loving the parenting thing now that she’s more independent. But now that I’m older I wish I could go back and enjoy her baby years more than I did. I can’t get those back. They’re gone. And I don’t want anymore kids. 

Time is so fleeting. Life is so short. 

Stamp of Approval

Published April 7, 2017 by dividinguplife

Yesterday morning, my boss did cataract surgery on my grandmother (the second eye), and my grandpa met us up there so that I could go to the office and then meet them there for post-op care. When I say grandpa, I mean the man that bought me all kinds of stuff when I was a baby (diapers and formula, clothes and toys) not the one that abandoned me on my birthday and never came back.

I think my grandpa taking care of me was the first reality check that blood isn’t always thicker than water. In fact, in my life, I have learned that it rarely is. Sometimes even the water evaporates. Sometimes the realization that you can only depend on yourself comes crashing down on you like a ten ton weight. 

My grandpa is the one that just helped me out of my legal troubles when that surprise court date circa 2009 popped up on me when I went to get my pistol permit. Facing the chance that I’d be hauled off to jail for something that I didn’t know existed in the first place, my grandpa gave me five hundred bucks, no questions asked so I could get a lawyer. He has done more for me not being my blood, than most of my family that is blood, has ever done for me. 

We had breakfast in the hospital cafeteria yesterday morning. It was nice to just sit down and spend time with him and hang out. My grandpa is a cool guy. 100% Portuguese with a temper to match it. He has worked in the carpet business his entire life. I remember being a kid and staying the night at his house on the weekends with my grams, and he’d be on the phone first thing in the morning screaming at his installers because they were idiots. 

Yesterday he brought my grams over to the office so I could check her vision and her eye pressure before she went home. Last night while I was cooking dinner, he was on the phone with my Grams and made a comment about how smart I am. It was very nice to hear that coming from him. I mean, he only saw me do something that is about a fifth of my entire job, and it was enough to impress a man that isn’t impressed very easily. 

When people hear that I’m in Ophthalmic Technician, they never really care to grasp what it is that I do. Or they just shrug and assume I sit on my ass all day and do … what? I’m not sure. Very few people actually understand the level of patient care and the intricacies involved in my line of work. I work with eyeballs all day. I literally have my fingers on and around a persons eyeball. I do the testing (about six different machines for different parts of the eye and different potential diseases), I set up the surgeries, I monitor the billing, the appeals, the denials. Not only that, I’m also the sounding board for elderly people that don’t have anyone else to talk to. I ask them how their eyes are feeling, and twenty minutes later we are talking about their arthritis and how much they miss their spouse that has been dead for fifteen years. By the time we get out of the exam room, I know how them and their spouse met, how long they were married, how their spouse died, and how they have been doing since their spouse died. These patients become more than patients. When they die, a piece of me goes with them. Even now, years later, there are quite a few patients that I think back on, that have passed. I’ve been to numerous funeral’s where the family recognized me and I grieved with them. In the Glaucoma specialty, we see our patients four to six times a year. We get to know them. They aren’t just another chart number. I become invested in them. 

After five years and almost three thousand patients, even now when my boss comes up to me and says something like “You remember that patient that had an ahmed tube shunt that went from Count Fingers to 20/30 and we were able to remove her from her drops?” and I’ll be like “Yeah, it was such-and-such” …. like you remember their names. It’s important. They say you are supposed to separate yourself emotionally from your patients, but I can’t. I find that to be cold and insensitive. 

Tonight my husband laughed at me because when I vacuum, I kind of lasso the cord around my hand and then hang it on the hook, rather than wrap the cord around the two hooks all proper-like. My husband is a lot neater than I am. I cook and I clean, but I’m just not as detailed with it like he is. He hangs all of his clothes in the closet. I throw mine on the top shelf of the closet. It doesn’t bother him, he just laughs at me. 

When I was growing up, my mom was a neat-freak. I mean like an OCD nazi neat-freak. She would clean everything until it shined, and then bitch at you if anything got messed up. If I tried to clean up after myself, she was convinced that it wasn’t clean enough and she would clean it again, all the while screaming at me about what a slob I was. By the time I was sixteen, I just didn’t care anymore. After I moved out at seventeen and was on my own, I realized that if I left a sock on the floor, the entire world wasn’t going to come crashing down on my head. Seeing small clusters of chaos in my world brings me comfort. It reminds me that life can move forward without everything being so fucking perfect all of the time. I’ve done well enough in my life living by this rule. It’s just another thing my mom fucked up in my head. One more thing to add to a long list of reasons that I wish I would have been adopted. 

Family Affairs

Published April 2, 2017 by dividinguplife

My husband had to work today since he went back out into the field (cable technician), so I washed my hair and then decided to cut it. It was down to my shoulder blades, but it just hasn’t had any life when I dry it. It just kind of hangs there. I figured that nobody knows your hair better than you do, so I took the scissors to it. 

Me2

It didn’t turn out too bad. Who knows if it’s even. I don’t really care. I like uneven layers in it anyway. The last time I had a haircut, the bitch didn’t do what I asked because she didn’t think it would look right. So, I did it myself and it turned out how I wanted it to turn out. 

I also went to see my niece tonight. I haven’t seen her in a couple of months, and I really enjoy the baby stage, as long as they are other peoples babies. I’m done with that part of my life. I still think it would have been cool to have a baby with my husband, but both of us have more than enough kids combined. I have one, he has three. I think we’re good. Plus, I was allergic to my pregnancy. I never want to go through that again. I’m also almost 32 and my daughter is five years from being a legal adult. I’m almost done. I’d be bat-shit crazy to start over again. 

Pailin

But still, that cuddly little face makes my heart melt. 

So anyway – my praternal grandfather has severe dementia, and will probably die sooner rather than later. If it sounds like I said that with no emotion, it’s because there isn’t any. The last time I saw that man, I was eleven years old. He was coming over to my house to take me to lunch for my birthday. He had never been to my house before. I had only seen him twice before in some feeble attempt to have some relationship in my life. I went to the mountains with him and his wife for a weekend trip, and I stayed the night at their house one time. Anyway, he pulled up to the house and came inside for a moment. I was dressed in my finest clothes, ready for my lunch date with my grandpa. He made some flimsy excuse about his wife not feeling well, handed me some ugly ass brown purse as a birthday gift, and he left. I never saw him again. 

I imagine it’s because I lived in a trailer. He comes from money and always had a certain snobbery. After all, he left my grandmother and my dad when my dad was three years old. He didn’t see him again until my dad was in his 30’s. I don’t know why I thought it would be any different for me. 

I say all of this to bring up that my grams (who lives with me) told me today that she talked to my grandfathers wife the other day and she made mention that she specifically wanted me to have some hutch cabinet that is my grandfathers. I looked at my grams and told her I didn’t want it. She kind of got shitty with me and said “Well, he IS your grandfathers.” I told her that he was not. He isn’t my grandfather. My grandfather is the man that my grams lived with for over 25 years that helped raise me, took care of me, bought me things when I was a baby like diapers and formula. THAT man is my grandfather. Not this asshole who is having karma loop, swoop, and pull his ass through the rungs right now. I don’t want his wife’s shitty guilty trip compensation. As far as I’m concerned, she can shove that hutch up her ass. She doesn’t know me. She hasn’t seen me in over twenty years. She is nothing to me, and so is that man. Sorry neither one of y’all wanted anything to do with me all of these years …. but don’t start trying to make penance with me to help you sleep better at night. 

As far as I know, my dad’s cancer is getting the best of him. He was recently in the hospital for over a week for severe pain. The tumor that is on his liver seemed to be pressing on a part of his kidney’s and causing issues with urination and making him want to kill himself to stop the pain. Eventually they found a dosage of multiple pain meds that worked for him. He’s at home now, but I think it’s getting close to the point that he will eventually need hospice. He isn’t being too verbal about what exactly is going on. I think he knows more than he’s letting on about his cancer. But, it’s stage 4 colon cancer – there’s only so much that can be done before you die. I’m sad for him. But, I don’t have that bond with him. He apologized for missing the first thirty years of my life. I told him I understood. He wasn’t ready for a child. He gave me up for adoption to my step-dad. That was admirable shit. He had no idea that my step-dad would turn into a world class dickhead. 

So both my father and my grandfather are dying. Neither of which I really know all that much about. I feel sad for my father. While he was in the hospital, the only people that came to visit him were myself and his girlfriend. His other daughter didn’t go. I don’t think she even called him. She’s been very wrapped up in her new boyfriend. I like my half-sister enough – though I haven’t actually seen her very much our entire life. We’re Facebook friends and we chat when it comes to matters of our dad. I think she has some kind of condition where she disassociates herself from emotion. She has had more of our dad than I ever did. Holiday’s, birthday parties, weekends at his house. She had it all. Well, she had as much of him as he was willing to give to another person. 

Life is too damn short to fuck around and treat people like shit. At the end of this life, you don’t want to be the person laying there dying with nobody to say goodbye to, because they said goodbye to you years ago. 

Baby-Daddy Love

Published April 1, 2017 by dividinguplife

My daughter had her first soccer game yesterday. She goes to a private school that is closer to her fathers house than to mine. It’s a 45 minute trek out there, but I was really excited to see my almost-thirteen-year-old doing something extracurricular. 

I discovered that climbing metal bleachers at 31 years old isn’t as easy as it was when I was twelve. Especially with jeans on that are like a second skin. I was lucky I got through that ordeal unscathed. 

Her dad and step-mom met me there and we sat and talked while watching the game. I am always in awe at the ease of our relationship. We are there for our daughter. Even when I hear her step-mom refer her step-child as “my kid” it makes me smile. I love that she thinks of our daughter as her own. Because of the step-mom, our daughter has been afforded opportunities that she wouldn’t otherwise have. She will go on her third cruise, in June. She’s been to Canada, the Bahama’s, and this year will be Alaska. How many cruises have I been on? Zero. But my daughter gets that luxury life having a step-mom that has the kind of money to do those things. I want her to have everything that I never did. 

We talked about the kids future. Currently she wants to be a chef and go to culinary school in New York. The step-mom and I hope she will want to go to Charleston South Carolina because it will be closer. 

There was the usual banter back and forth between baby-daddy and myself. He truly is an amazing person. Every time he says some funny shit, or flashes that smile at me, I am reminded of why it is that I ever loved him in the first place. Of course, that love faded by my own doing of immaturity and not knowing myself. But I love him still for all of the reasons that he is the father of my child. I love his wife and how well they compliment each other. 

It makes me sad that my husband and his ex-wife can’t have this kind of relationship. She hates herself so much that it gets in the way of doing what is best for her children. She is caught up in doing everything the way she wants it, rather than taking the children’s feelings into consideration. She wouldn’t let us have them for Spring Break because she just didn’t feel like it. The last time my husband face-chatted with the kids, his daughter started crying because she missed him, which made my husband dissolve into tears after he hung up with her. It makes me angry, and I have to keep my mouth shut. It’s not my place to insert myself into their business. Plus, if I open my mouth I will assuredly make things much worse. I am very good at keeping my opinions to myself, but once I allow the flood-gates to open, I’m a bitch. I don’t want to give that horrid woman any reason on my end to withhold the kids even more than she already has. It’s sad to wish death on someone, but I just wish she would drive off of a bridge and we could have the kids here full-time. I don’t understand how she can sleep at night being as toxic as she is. 

I keep telling myself that karma is a very real thing, and she will get hers. Even I start to wonder how long that’s going to take, though. It seems that with every year that passes, she gets more and more poisonous towards us and towards herself. But how long can it go on before it all implodes on her? How long before she completely destroys her life and fucks up beyond repair?

The Active Warrant Debacle

Published March 9, 2017 by dividinguplife

So, Thursday, after I got served with the active warrant from 2009 that I knew nothing about AND the court date for unreturned property that I also knew nothing about …. I stressed all weekend, went back and forth on spending my time finding a lawyer for a price that wouldn’t rape me up the ass, and just going downtown and turning myself in and being arrested and posting bond. 

I went outside Monday to smoke a cigarette at work, turned the corner, and there was a police car parked in the parking lot. I stopped in my tracks, and fourteen thousand things went through my head. Anything from “Chill the fuck out, it’s not uncommon to see a police car in the parking lot.” to “This is it.They are going to handcuff and me and haul me away. I hope they will do it in the hallway, away from my patients. I don’t want them to see me get hauled off to jail.” 

Of course, none of that happened. I called a lawyer on Monday during my lunch. She was 2500 bucks and she could “make it go away” minus the 196 bucks for the worthless check and court cost – whatever price that may be. I nearly hit the floor and almost gave up at that point. I figured all lawyers were going to be like this. I can’t afford a 2500 dollar retainer fee. 

Yesterday I called another lawyer who was very nice but told me he only handles felony cases. He gave me the number of another lawyer, who I called, and spoke to this fantastic paralegal lady who made me feel like she was my fairy godmother. 500 bucks and she would take care of it for me. She got rid of my warrant, she is having my failure to return dismissed because the company has insurance for situations like that. And she is making sure I don’t have anything on my record after I pay the 196 dollars for the worthless check. She’s also getting the court costs waived. 

So, after days and days of stressing about this shit it looks like it’s finally coming to an end. 

I talked to my brother tonight. Sadly, we can compare stories of the ways our mother has fucked us up one side and down the other. A few years ago she stole my step-dad’s identity in the form of an 800 dollar credit card that she had sent to her house, and then promptly maxed out on God-knows what. My step-dad didn’t find out about it until he went to purchase his half-million dollar home and the only thing preventing that from going through was the unpaid 800 dollars on his credit report. Keep in mind that they had been divorced for over ten years by then. I guess my mom held onto his social security number. 

A few years before that, she was living in a fully furnished apartment that was being paid for by a man she would eventually marry (her fourth husband), all the while she was living with a crack addict and would hide his things whenever fourth-husband-sugar-daddy would swing by for a quick lay. He was completely in the dark. He had no idea he was paying all of the bills for a woman that had another man living with her. Oh, I forgot to mention that her fourth husband was her third husbands brother-in-law. I bet you can guess why she and third husband split up. 

So anyway, when it came time for her to move out of the apartment, she took everything out of there. The furnished beds, TV’s, couches, dining room set, etc …. you know who the apartment complex called to collect the five thousand dollars from? My brother. My mom had signed my brothers name on the lease, even though he was only fifteen at the time. They harassed my brother for years for this, until his dad finally got on the phone and threatened to take them to court for harassment. 

She’s swindled so many men out of money by lying. The time she gave me cancer for money was only the tip of the iceberg. It seems that she is still full of surprises. She had an old boyfriend of hers call my brother a few weeks ago (he blocked her number a year ago), to tell him that my brother needs to call our mom because she’s dying, and how dare he ignore her when she’s so sick. He said, and I quote … “Mother fucker, she’s been dying for 24 years. Hell, I’ve been dying, my sister has been dying, WE’VE ALL BEEN DYING according to her. You don’t know shit about her, about me, or about this family. Do not call me again.” 

So, it seems that she has gotten her claws into all of us at some point. I almost ended up in jail because of her. I have a perfect record. She almost ruined that for me. 

Oh, and my dad thinks his cancer is back. So, that’s wonderful. He has started hurting in his back, so he thinks it has spread. He’s supposed to have more scans done soon to confirm his suspicions. Last Christmas the doctor only gave him a year to live. My dad tried the holistic route and seemed to have some luck with it, but that luck may have run out.

No mother, no step-father, my real dad is dying. My materal grandmother is dead. My Uncle died at 45 years old, almost two years ago. I’m running out of people. 

“Everyone I know goes away, in the end. And you can have it all, my empire of dirt. I will let you down. I will make you hurt.” 

Rock Bottom Isn’t So Bad

Published February 15, 2017 by dividinguplife

I always feel like I have some profound shit to say, but when it comes time to write, there’s usually nothing there. Oh well. 

Work has been rather grueling this week. A lot of difficult patients with a lot of specific needs. I’ve been trying to anticipate what the doctor needs before he asks for it. It helps my critical thinking skills, and also saves me from stopping what I’m doing for one patient to run around like a chicken with my head cut off, for another patient that I thought I was finished with. So far this week and last week I have done a pretty decent job at figuring out what he is going to want before he asks for it. 

I was messing around with google maps tonight. I figured I’d take a trip through the old neighborhood my husband and I grew up in. It made me giggle that I could still see the same route I took when I would sneak out of my house at night and tear through the back yards to climb through my brother-in-laws window. 

The top right was my house. The bottom left, my husbands. 

map

I ran that same path a hundred times during the summer of ’98. 

In the summer, when the smell of wet, fresh cut grass finds its way to my nose, I’m instantly 13 again. The sound of the crickets on a muggy summer night, and I can hear my childhood laughter as I was tearing through the woods, bright-eyed and excited for the freedoms that I had while dreaming of a future that turned out so completely different than I thought it would. 

How much heartache and disappointment must one endure before they get their happy ending? I consider myself lucky to have found what I have at the age of 31. It is rather amazing to look back and think of the bullshit and hell I’ve been through with abuse and cheating and heartache in the last 13 years. 

Honestly, though. I wouldn’t change one bit of it. The emotional, physical, and mental abuse? It taught me how to and how to not treat other people. It wore down my self-esteem, yes. But, now I know what it feels like to be made to feel like you’re worthless. I could never intentionally say something to another human being to hurt them with regard to how they look, dress, or feel. 

Being cheated on multiple times? Another blow to my self-esteem. A lot of hours of therapy. But it taught me the pain of another persons selfish actions. It taught me that at the end of the day, every single one of these men always asked for me to come back to them; that they’d made a mistake. It taught me about the proverbial fence and the color of grass. It taught me to continue to be the person that I am, because someday someone would appreciate all of the positive things I bring to a relationship. 

13 years of weeding through the assholes, through the bullshit, through the pain. I’ve cried an ocean of tears. I’ve written more journal entry’s, spent more nights in deep thought and reflection, and lived mature lives well before I was supposed to be old enough to do it. I grew up poor. I became co-dependent on men. I’ve lost everything and been homeless. I’ve rebuilt my life and learned the hardest lessons. I’ve survived. 

I still live paycheck to paycheck. But I made it a goal of mine to make sure that my daughter never had to grow up in the environment that I did. I have busted my ass to ensure that she lives in a home that has a permanent foundation as apposed to the trailer I grew up in . She goes to a private school. I take her and her friend skating and to the movies on the weekends when we have the extra money. She even admitted the other night that I was “cooler than most parents” – which was a compliment of the highest regard coming from her almost-teenage self. 

So, if you find yourself careening towards rock bottom – allow yourself to fall. Allow yourself to learn from it. There are so many lessons to be learned if you turn the focus from you to everything else around you.