May 1998 – II

one of these days my stew pot of issues will probably boil over and create quite the messThe weather was beautiful for my dad’s wake and funeral. I should have had beautiful days honoring him, too, but I didn’t. I am so sad, but it is not because my father is dead. I feel drained of everything inside. I am mad at so many people, even though I’m not an angry person by nature… I’m really not.

Lou actually told me to ask my mother to change the dates of the wake and funeral to accommodate his planned business trip to Rochester to meet a potential new client and speak at a dinner meeting. I told him that was absurd, and that his plans were not that important. The day of my dad’s wake, Lou conceded at the last minute to skip the plant tour he had scheduled with an alleged potential new client, but did not cancel the dinner meeting. He made it quite clear that he had only cancelled to shut me up, not because he wanted to be by my side, or perhaps pay his respects to my father, who had always been kind and loving to Lou. I checked his laptop, and read the e-mail that he sent to a woman named Jean, explaining he had to cancel their planned flight rendezvous over and around Niagara Falls because, “There has been a death in the family, and I’m under a lot of pressure to attend the funeral.” Part of me feels this is a victory for me, and another part doesn’t want him to be anywhere near my father’s presence, given the lack of respect he has demonstrated. My husband is supposed to be a source of strength and comfort in times like these. These are the moments in life when it helps to be reminded of what you still have with family, and to be grateful for that love rather than only reeling from the loss of the person who has died. Instead, I just feel empty.

Lou was present for literally about 10 minutes of the wake before he left for Rochester in our plane. To make matters worse, he abruptly took Anjelica with him. That morning, my sisters and I had been cleaning at my mother’s house, and Anjelica wanted to help. So my sister gave Anjelica a sponge to wipe off a kitchen countertop. Lou saw this, grabbed the sponge away, scrubbed her hands, and marched her out of the house. He pulled me aside and fumed about how disgusting it was that my sister gave her a filthy, gross sponge. There was no way his daughter was going to be cleaning. I explained that it was a normal dish sponge from the sink, that it was not gross and disgusting by any means, and that it was natural that Anjelica would want to help out with what my sisters and I were doing. I didn’t see anything wrong. She helps me at home, as best as a 4 year old can, and at the Montessori school, the kids clean up after themselves. I can easily read his face, and could see he was outraged more by my defense of the situation than he was by the sponge and cleaning offense itself.

We went for a walk and took Anjelica to the playground at my old elementary school so we could get away from the house and have what was probably a very obvious argument in private. It quickly turned from a discussion about the sponge, into a lecture to me about how this was an unsuitable environment for Anjelica, and that he was going to take her with him to Rochester, and she could just hang out while he did his APICS dinner meeting presentation. I pleaded for him to let Anjelica stay with me, but I was worn out and beaten down, so he won that battle. I could clearly envision him using Anjelica to his benefit to look like a Super-Dad, doing his job while caring for his daughter because his wife was too busy or unable. Part of me was a bit satisfied to know this meant he hadn’t been able to re-arrange things to hook up with that woman, or anyone else at the hotel after the dinner meeting. Another part of me was reliving that he had also taken Anjelica away from me when Aunt Mamie died. And both times, I felt like I was being punished for something, and that I didn’t understand what I had possibly done to deserve such treatment. I don’t ask for much, and there are very few times when I really need to be with my family. I don’t think I am unreasonable to expect his support on the rare occasions when I do.

Even with Lou out of sight in Rochester, I was on edge most of the time; so many things irritated me, especially small actions and comments that I interpreted as disrespect. I did my best to hold my composure, as I had to speak publically for the eulogy, which was videotaped to be shown on Cable TV, and there was a rather odd public display with news reporters and police escorts following our family as we walked in a procession behind a horse drawn carriage-hearse from the funeral home to the cemetery. When my mother made those plans, I was not there to object and present my father’s request for a simple ceremony. But at that point, it probably more about what she wanted anyway.

I took so many deep breaths to try to calm myself down over those two days, that it is a miracle I didn’t hyperventilate. I know my mother wanted peace, so I was determined to create no issues. That’s not entirely true. I created a shitload of issues in my head; I just didn’t share them with anyone. I stewed on them all by myself, and they continue to simmer and percolate. One of these days my stew pot of issues will probably boil over and create quite the mess.

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