For the months, days, hours, minutes leading up to my trip to Iowa to visit my father, my stress level was high and my emotions were all over the place. Most of the time, when I would find myself alone and nothing to do but think, I would cry. I did not necessarily know why I was crying…just the sheer weight of everything that this trip meant.
I had to face the fact that my dad is very sick and dying from pancreatic cancer. When I saw him, he looked so frail and old. I don’t think he’s old at all, he’s just 72. I also had to face being in Iowa, a place I hated, after about 15 years. The last time I went was for my fathers wedding. In fact, it was events at that wedding that made me not want to return, ever. Then there is that whole thing of not having a home to go back to, literally. The house I spent the majority of my formative years is gone. It was burned down and the land was converted to hunting ground. Even all of the trees were gone. It is where we laid to rest my dog Kitty…the best damn dog in the whole damn world. She was my best friend. My siblings were older and didn’t always want to play with me, but she never ignored me. She was always there for me.
To go with all of that, I hate flying. HATE. It’s not the flying in a plane in the air thing; it’s the lack of control thing. I have been late for my share of flights and it is the worst feeling ever. I don’t sleep leading up to the flight. I plan and replan my schedule. I check and recheck my tickets for take off time. Ii check traffic. I left four hours early for the airport, just in case. I had reserved discount, off-site airport parking and had no clue where it was and wanted to get there early enough to get lost. I had a small child and plenty of luggage in tow. And I didn’t know how long it would take the shuttle to retrieve us and get us to our destination, not to mention the fact that Atlanta airport is frickin huge.
So yeah. Stress. I talked to my mom several times before i went. She knew I was stressed and told my sister to look out for me because of my emotional state. My brother and sister also traveled to Iowa. My brother and his family drove from Georgia. My sister and her son flew from California. My dad wanted my brother and his family to stay with him, so he got me and my son a hotel. My sister stayed 45 minutes away with a cousin.
It was a mess from start. We were all there, but separate. It didn’t feel like a family gathering at all. When my flight arrived, my sister and her son met us at the airport and we decided to go to my dad’s together…after a long leisurely lunch. When we arrive, my dad greeted us and so did his wife. I hugged my dad and I turned to greet his wife and she was giving me the meanest, nastiest look but quickly replaced it with a huge smile when I turned to her. She had to know I saw that shit. I decided at that moment just to say “Hi” and not hug her. There is some bad blood between her and my sister. I stand up for my sister to the end. Blood is always thicker. Anyhow, I believe that set the scene for the rest of the time we were actually at my father’s wife’s home. Yes, her home, not my dads. The first afternoon, she bitched at my dad the entire time. She bitched because the dogs were barking and they weren’t used to “all these people being around” which she said loudly about 50 times in an accusatory tone. But all that was just a queue for my sister to take a timely nap and my dad and I went to the basement to look for some of his old stuff. She came to the basement to bitch at him about that too.
The rest of that day and the next were no better. I tried to stay outside and show my son the wonder of exploring a farm. It was pretty awesome.
On the third day, I decided to take my son to see the small town where I grew up and see the vacant, barren lot where my childhood home once stood and that glorious maple tree. That tree. I think it had my lifeblood running through it and when it died and was cut down, a part of me died too. My dad had build a tire swing on one side and a rope swing with a wood slat for the seat on the other. Some of my favorite childhood memories were spent with, under and hanging from that tree; usually accompanied by Kitty.
The only thing that remains on that land is the stump of that beautiful, majestic maple tree. Sitting above it was the apex of the tree, hollowed and rotten. Honestly, I was glad to see my old friend. I thought all was gone and lost. I took photos. I stood with her for a moment. I showed my unimpressed son. (He was ready to go after 5 minutes.) I took my time, even with my child pestering me, “I want to go.”
That night was the blow out. I do not do well with minding my manners with assholes such as my dad’s wife. She is a loathsome person. And apparently I am an asshole. I am not going into the sordid details…it’s a long story. Suffice it to say I was wrong and so was dad’s wife, but i was the only one to apologize. My apology was not good enough for anyone, including my sister. My brother didn’t hear me apologize, but he has always been open about his disdain for me. Especially lately. And apparently, blood is not thicker than water. I know they are trying to protect my dad and his level of comfort, but as my dad pointed out so many times, he is okay and feeling great and happy and doesn’t want to be treated any differently. I didn’t make his life any more difficult…or any less.
I realized that I needed to get out of there. I left before dinner and apple pie was served. I didn’t say goodbye. i just grabbed my son and left unceremoniously. My brother and sister yelled at me. My brother thinks I am selfish, self centered, a bitch…and who in the hell knows what else. He doesn’t have much of anything nice to say about me.
I let my son hang out with them the following day, since it was our last. When I went to pick him up, I hugged my dad and my nephew (my sister’s son) goodbye. I was glad to get home. Even though Georgia doesn’t feel like home. I have a great job and my son is happy here. I am about to buy a house which was my main goal of moving here in the first place. I am so incredibly lonely. I still have no friends. The only family I have in the area hates me. I am alone.
I guess my brother telling me that I like to be the center of attention got to me. I really like to prove people wrong so I have been incomunicado. I don’t even want to talk to my mother. I am just so incredibly sad, depressed and lonely right now…I don’t even know what to do. My sister has unfreinded me on facebook for whatever reason. My brother finally emailed me today just to check on my son. I deleted it and went on with my day. He can see how my kid is by viewing my facebook. But I am pretty close to unfriending him. If he doesn’t like me…well then he doesn’t have to see me. I am tired of this bullshit.
And then the cycle starts over. I begin to wonder if I am trying to be the center of attention by not wanting any attention at all and wanting to be left alone. I think my motive is just to isolate myself with my feelings. I am just hurt. I have never wanted attention. I like being a wallflower. I have always been shy and socially awkward, even around family. I could analyze this all to death, but I think in the end…my brother will still dislike me. My brother has been gone since I was 12 and after that, he only came back for brief visits. We have nothing in common anymore. Now I see him for the mean person that he is and always was. He has a nice side, but that is only reserved for friends and his immediate family.
But with all this fuckupedness, I remember when we weren’t. We were cute little shits. Happy National Siblings Day. Enjoy your family, if you get along and if you have a family.