“Children should be seen, not heard” was what my father always said when one of us said something he didn’t like. I guess I loved my dad, but he was a complete ******* a lot of the times. There were those occasions where he was so nice it was hard to see that he could be the ******* that he was, but he was, and that wasn’t going to change. He was too set on his ways; there wasn’t anything that could be done about it, and I was but a child and children should be seen, not heard.
A few months ago I received a call from the same hospital in the town I was born in. My father was in a car crash. He was driving home late from work very early in the morning after a very tiring shift, apparently. He was crossing the highway when a truck slammed into his passenger side halfway across and pushed the car, and him, into the medium dividing the highway. He was in critical condition, and the doctor’s predicted that he wouldn’t make it.
I thought that they were just being overdramatic. They were right.
The day he died was the same day that I graduated from high school. When my father got into the car accident, my older sister came to watch us. She was about ten and a half years older than I was, and had been living on her own for two years down in Los Angeles, California, working a part time job at a restaurant as one of those people who stand at the front and greet you, then bring you to your seat. My sister always was the closest I thing I had. She was really the only thing I would risk my life to save, if it came down to it. She was the most interesting, caring person in the world. She was an artist from an early age, and she captured the most important moments of my life through her paintings. I never really understood why, but shortly before she decided it was time to move out of our father’s house, she stopped painting and seemed really depressed about anything and everything.
Growing up, my family got into a lot of fights. We would argue at least once a day, threats would be made, and people would storm out of the house in an angry fit of rage, attempting to reconcile their emotions. It really wasn’t a very nice environment to live in, and what made it worse was the fact that my mother was never involved in my life. My sister was the one thing in my life that wasn’t involved in this kind of atmosphere. She was the mother figure I never had, and she treated me like a best friend, a daughter, and a sister, all at once. There really wasn’t much more I could ask for from her; she was my rock in the difficult times, and my partner in crime in the happier times.
When she came back to live with us, she made it very clear that she was only going to be there until my dad got better. She had made plans to stay for up until the end of the month, and only brought enough things from her house to last until then, too. I guess she didn’t realize how serious the car accident was when she planned on coming down. I was just grateful for her to be coming home for once.
Since she left home two years ago, she hadn’t once stopped by to see how things were going. We spent a lot of time talking online, but she never came back home in person. Not on my birthday, not on Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or even to our family reunion that my aunt would host at her orchard home once a year. She made it a point that once she left she wouldn’t come back no matter what.
She had the same feelings about my dad as I did. She loved him, but she thought he was one of the worst people in the world because of the way he treated her and the things he did when she was younger. I think her and I were the only people in the world who really saw his raw personality for what it was. Everyone else kept reminding us of how lucky we were to have such a great father in our life, and that he cared so much and did so much for us. What they didn’t know is that my father used to drink and beat us, or that he used to let us go days without eating because something wasn’t done exactly the way he wanted it, or that he used to keep us in cages if we really misbehaved. No, they didn’t know any of that; they just saw the façade he put on when he was in public with us.
When my sister came back, she brought a lot of cheer to my heart. I don’t know how she figured that out. I wasn’t upset at all that my dad passed away the way he did, or that he passed away at all. As a matter of fact, I was actually very relieved that he was dead. I know that’s horrible to say, but it’s the truth. He may have been my father and contributed to my very existence, but he wasn’t my father. Fathers don’t do the things that he did. I remember my sister specifically saying when she walked in the door “I know what you’re thinking, and you might as well put it out of your mind. You didn’t cause this whether you want to believe it or not. There’s no such thing as wishing for death.” It’s true, I did wish he died a lot of the time of the day, but I never told anyone about it.
My father didn’t have a funeral. We didn’t have the money or the interest of paying our final respects to him, not after all of the suffering he put us through. None of us felt that he deserved one, and when he died, the house seemed to breathe a breath of relief. It was like the house itself wanted him gone just as much as we did. A few days after, we started going about our regular routine. My sister announced that she decided she’d stay for another month. At the end of that month, she announced that she would be staying another month. And then after that, she did it again. She ended up taking over the house completely and eventually bought it after about six or so months of doing the same thing over and over again.
I graduated high school with straight A’s and was top of the class. My sister was so proud of me, and offered me her pin when she was top of her class to put on my graduation robe for graduation and offered me some help with my graduation speech. Since I was top of the class, I was required to put together a graduation speech outlining our success as a class and promoting aspirations, dreams, and desires of the class as a whole for the future. I didn’t know how I would have been able to get through it if it wasn’t for my sister’s tremendous help, but I did.
My sister came to my graduation with me, and she brought a camcorder to record the ceremony. My aunt and the entire side of my mother’s side of the family came as well. My dad’s family all passed away or wasn’t aware of my existence, but it didn’t phase me in the least. If they raised a son like that, I didn’t want them providing their toxic aura at my ceremony and tainting the night for me. I remember it like it was yesterday, actually. I think it was the second best day of my life, shortly after the day I discovered something very important of myself.
Life turned upside down after my father died. It was all for the better, which made it that much more of a great thing. It was like the tunnel had passed and… who am I trying to fool? I don’t know why I bother with this stuff…