Dear Rick, I hope you come back and read the posts here. Buddy, you have people here that care about you and want the best to happen in your life.
I need to tell you something and it's important. If you have read many of my posts you may already know that my dad died just over two years ago. I miss him terribly. But that is not what I really want you to know. My parents divorced when I was eight years old. I didn't see my dad again until I was 22. There was only very minimal communication between us during those years. For a time I didn't see my dad because my mom would not allow it, the divorce was nasty, and I think my mom felt that she was doing the best thing for me and my sister at the time. Later as a teenager I did contact my dad a couple times, but he was stationed in far off places. Spain, Iceland, Italy then Florida, California and back to Iceland. Occasionally he was in his home base in Memphis. For most of my teen years I was angry with him, and boy did it show with what little communication I had with him. I now know that he did not know how to bridge that. When I was 22 years old and living on an Air Force base in New Hampshire with my now ex husband, my dad called me out of the blue and told me he would be flying in to see me. I was flabbergasted and simply had no idea how I would handle the situation. The day he came I got a knock on my front door and when I opened it there stood my dad. I'm not kidding when I tell you I shut the door in his face. I then went and sat on the couch trying to decide if I would open the door and let him in, if he would still be there when if I did and whether I could handle the situation at all no matter what. I must have sat on that couch for 10 minutes. Ultimately I went back to the door and opened it expecting him to be gone, but he was still there. He politely asked if he could come in or would I rather he leave. I asked him in and made coffee. He met my son, who was 2 years old for the first time, he met my husband who he had never seen, though it was while he was on duty and through the flight line fencing. We talked a great deal, but I couldn't relax or be myself. But it was a start. A few months later I and my son flew to Detroit and picked up my younger sister who was 15, then on to Memphis to see out dad. My sister had not been with him since she was a year old. We spent a week there, met my step mom for the first time, and decided she was not the wicked witch I had figured she had to be. The next couple years we stayed in contact fairly regularly, but much of the time it was still tense. When I was 8 months pregnant for my daughter, now living in Michigan, my dad, stepmom and the baby they had adopted who is my stepsister's daughter came to visit us. Once again he was on his way to Iceland and he wanted to see me and my sister before he left. He would be gone for two years. The phone calls were few and far between, letters too. I simply moved on with my life and didn't think about him much.
This overseas assignment was his last. He came home to Memphis and became an instructor with the Navy, which meant he would not be going to any other base again. From there we began to be able to establish a true father/daughter relationship again. It still took time and effort, I live in Michigan and long distance communication is just not the same as being able to see someone regularly. In the years that he came back to Memphis until he died, I was able to go south and visit several times. My dad had had a computer for years, but I hadn't. When I got my computer I was able to email him and he me regularly. The computer was the best thing that happened for us.
When my dad first got ill he more or less blew it off. He was a Christian Scientist, raised in that faith by his mother. He had a small spot of melanoma on the top of his head, and when a doctor told him it needed to be removed, he wouldn't do it. In my dad's life the only time he had been to a physician was when the Navy required it. This time around he had gone after being hounded repeatedly by my stepmom. I didn't know about any of this until a couple months later. Several months went by and I got a phone call from my dad. That in itself was unusual, we communicated through email almost exclusively now. Then he started talking about how he and Jean had decided they needed to downsize the house, and he wanted me and my sister to come down and go through things. I knew, positively knew, something was not right. I started to question him, why, what's going on etc... suddenly my dad began to weep. I don't mean cry, but weeping. I could tell he had put down the phone and I started yelling for him, then my stepmom picked up the phone and told me that the melanoma had mets to his brain, the prognosis was grim and that he had started radiation therapy after she begged him to try it. Rick in two more days I and my family were to leave to go to Hawaii for vacation. Something we had saved up for years. I was taking my sister and her son with us because you see she was born there when we were stationed there with the Navy. It was the last place I had lived with my dad. Going to Hawaii was not simply a vacation to me, it was going home again. To relive the memories of my dad and all the wonderful times we had spent there. I talked to my stepmom and then my dad after he was ok, we talked about treatment and what he wanted to do with the house, things that I didn't really want to talk about at the time, but my dad did.
We went to Hawaii, I didn't tell my sister what was up because I didn't want to ruin her vacation. We visited all the different places I remembered as a kid and on the fourth day there we went back to Barbar's Point Naval Base to see my old house. It is a closed base now, so we could get on. I found my house by going to the school and walking the route home. The grass was overgrown and brown because that side of the Island was experiencing a severe drought. Someone had cut down the avocado tree we had in the front yard and the banana tree in the front yard of the house across the street was also gone. But the Plumeria tree that I used to pick blossoms off of to make lei's was still there and in bloom. Plumeria's are very fragrant and to me they are the smell of the islands. I went over and picked a couple blossoms and held back tears. We then drove the route to the beach because there was a beach next to the base that had been for military only. I learned to swim there. On the way there you have to pass the flight line and out there was sitting a lone, unused P3-Orien, the plane my dad had been a flight engineer on. I no longer could hold tears back while I remembered the many times I would sit out on that runway waiting for my dad's P3 to come in, and how I would run across the runway after the plane landed so I could be swept up in my dad's arms when he took that last step off the ladder coming out of the plane. I don't think in my life I have ever cried so hard. Once we got to the beach I was able to control myself, and we got out of the car. The only people on the beach with waves my kids thought were amazingly hugh. I was able to laugh when my oldest who had been told not to turn his back to the ocean, did that exactly and was nearly knocked over by a wave that came way up the beach. But the memories, oh how they flooded over me.
The vacation was in July, and my dad died in September. I was able to make it down to Tennessee three times before he died, and we talked about things we should have talked about years before. The last time I saw my dad things that should have been done by his physician had not been done and he ended up losing his leg because of a blood clot that had been ignored. I had to quit my job to be able to go to him, and never regretted it because it would end up being the last time I would see him alive.
Three weeks later my stepmom called, as soon as I heard her voice I knew.
My dad's computer was in a rolltop oak desk, it had been closed from the time that I had gotten to the house. The day of the funeral I went to the desk and lifted the lid because I wanted to find a passage from "leaves of Grass" to read at the funeral. There beside the computer was a printout of the email I had sent to him when we got back to Hawaii. The email had been very long, as I poured out feelings that I had and had never been willing to share with him before. I could see that it was tear stained and I swear my heart dropped to my knees. It was as if I had been given a message from my dad even though he was no longer here. I picked it up and folded it so I could keep it. My stepmom came over and hugged me then told me my dad loved more than he could ever express, and that she hoped I could understand that.
Rick, I tell you all this because if your parents are reaching out to you, then please give them an opportunity to be part of your life. I didn't do that for a very long time, and I can't express to you how much I regret that. My sister, who never let our dad get close to her regrets it so very much now that he is gone.
The other thing I hope that you can understand, is that when I was able to build that relationship with my dad again, my mom felt very hurt. She felt that he had been the one who left, and she had been the one who had been there for me my whole life. She was the one who made the ball games and the band concerts. Watching me march rain or shine. The sacrafices that she made to make sure me and my sister had what we needed. It took a very long time for her to understand or perhaps accept is a better word, that my want, my need to have a relationship with my dad did not make her less in my eyes. It didn't mean that I loved her less or that she suddenly was a loser or chopped liver in my eyes. For a long time after my dad died I didn't put his dress white Navy hat or a couple other things that I had gotten in the my antique secretary where there are display shelves behind glass like I wanted to, because I was afraid it would hurt my mom's feelings. Until one day I simply decided that she would have to be able to understand my need to have that connection with my dad. Please don't think that your children think you are a loser or whatever because they light up when their mom is around. The relationship they have with you is important, and so is the one with their mother.
I hope you get the PACU job, it is time for a change. But even if you don't you have skills that are in high demand right now, and the right thing WILL happen.
I know this was long, but I so wanted to share with you my feelings about family who are estranged. When the relationship has been abusive or boundries consistantly overran than it is best to leave it behind. But if that is not the case it is well worth allowing the other party to reach out and have you reach back.
We've missed you around here, don't be a stranger. While this the allnurses gang may only be over the computer, I always remember that without the emails that went between me and my dad we would never have been able to get to reknow one another the way we did. Sometimes I was willing to put things into an email that I don't believe I would have ever been able to say face to face. And those things needed to be said.
Good feelings and prayers sent to you for a better year to come.