Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Someone else's rant

I am going to rant on behalf of my beloved Becky...kinda. I pretty much want to rant about this all on my own, as it now affects me, as well.

When she was all of six months old, her biological father either left or was kicked out. Either way, another woman was involved. He married Becky's mom, 'Nita, and then joined the Navy. Using 'Nita's own words, "He was only home long enough to get me pregnant." By the time he was ready to come home for good, he was out of the picture, as he was unable to keep his "urges" in his head.

The years go by, and Becky can't even use all of her fingers to count the times she's seen her biological father. According to her, she's only seen him when he was making an effort to make himself look good. Like when he got remarried. Having his adorable little daughter on hand as the flower girl made it seem like he was a good guy.

Now, twenty-three years later, he drops a bombshell on Becky. He has cancer in his eye. Something about it being so close to the optic nerve means that it can spread and metastasize with relative ease. So he's being treated with radiation, and gets checked out every three months to be sure it hasn't spread. From what I've been told, he will never be rid of this cancer. Apparently there's no way to officially get rid of it.

Becky absorbed this information and had the following reaction: "So what?"

I don't blame her. This guy hasn't been in her life in any significant way since her memory started forming. And having seen him less than ten times her entire life, the news of him having cancer is like hearing about someone you've only heard of having the same disease. If someone told you that "John Smith" in Florida had cancer, you'd say, "Oh, that's too bad," and go on about your business.

But Becky, who is so sweet and so caring, is upset by the fact that she feels next to nothing about her father having this malignant form of cancer. She was fearful that she was somehow less human for her reaction. And so it fell to me to make her aware of the fact that this is the relationship HE wanted. If he had wanted his kids to be a part of his life, he would have "kept it in his pants," so to speak, or at least made an effort to stay in touch with them regularly as they grew up. Instead, the most pivotal role he's ever played in their lives was that of "sperm donor," and that's about it.

What I'd like to know is: What does he honestly expect from her? Does he think she'll fall over with some kind of epiphany, "Oh, he's my father and I can't turn my back on him now"? In my eyes, he wasn't even much of a father. Even my biological mother can make the claim that at one time or another she made sure her offspring were fed and clothed. Becky's father hit the road and rarely, if ever, looked back.

No, the REAL father in her life is "Turk," the guy 'Nita's been with for 22 years. He was the one to hold Becky when she was in tears. He was the one to bring her smiles throughout her life. He was the one to watch over her when she needed guidance. Becky shared an endearing story about Turk, in which they would play her favorite game when she was younger, "My Pretty Princess." I'm not even sure what he looks like, as I've only met Becky's mom, but I keep imagining this man that's 20 years older than 'Nita, playing this game with a tiny version of Becky, and wearing all of the plastic jewelry that has to be accumulated during the game. "He did it," Becky said with a happy, reminiscent smile on her face. "He wore the necklace and crown and everything."

That's a father. That's a DADDY.

I may be touted as one of the nicest guys on the planet, but there's a vindictive part of me that wants to seek revenge for wrongs that are done to certain people. The way her father damaged her by essentially keeping her at a distance is one of the things for which I'd like to see a little revenge played out. And because I enjoy writing, I can get carried away when my imagination starts running amok.

There will come a day, barring any major mishaps, when she and I will be wed. Right now, we dream of a small ceremony and reception, in which only our closest friends and family are invited. Becky seems to think that her father coming to the ceremony and seeing Turk performing all the things he should have been able to do would be painful. But my vindictive imagination thinks it's not enough.

Instead, he'll receive an e-mail with photos of the wedding, with captions accompanying each picture. And those captions would be targeted at her father's emotional heart. "Here's a photo of Becky's DAD walking her down the aisle. Note that you could have given her away, but you're not that important in her life." "Here's the father/daughter dance. You can see how happy Becky is, sharing one of the most important moments of her life with the man who was her 'daddy' while growing up. Not only are you not in the picture, but there was never any kind of plan to have you photographed during the reception...even by accident." "This is a photo of everyone who attended the wedding. You're not in it because we wanted to ensure that the happiest day of our lives remained exactly that."

Yeah, I can be quite mean-spirited when I put my mind to it.

Given the choice, I would hand this idiot his walking shoes and tell him to take a hike. Becky wasn't important enough to him all of these years to stay in regular contact with her, so he has no right to play "catch-up" now. He had plenty of chances in the past. Doing so when he was well would have been okay; doing so now that he has cancer just makes him seem pathetic.

Oh...please keep in mind that I've been taking my psych meds regularly and getting my thoughts back to where they should be, so this may be a bit of an overreaction to his shenanigans.

In the end, it's entirely up to Becky as to how she handles her relationship with her father. The only time I'd ever demand she cease contact with someone was if they were somehow disrupting my relationship with her. I've been faced with ultimatums like, "Choose me or the other person, but you can't have us both." The person requiring such a thing was usually the one to lose out, as I don't appreciate anyone telling me with whom I can be friends.

So I leave it to my sweet, beautiful Becky as to how she'll handle her biological father. And whatever her decision may be, I will remain as supportive as I can be.


Zeb The Troll said...

Rob, I gotta say I'm a bit shocked and dismayed by this rant. You've never met this man. She's barely met him. As far as I can tell, no one's gotten his side of the story. She may not have any good memories of him, but it doesn't sound like she has any bad memories of him either. At worst, from what I'm reading, they're on neutral terms. She doesn't hate him, she just doesn't love him either.

The way I see it, what if she finds out in ten years that he wasn't all that bad of a guy once he got a chance to mature a bit. The way it sounds, it'll be too late then. She'll have missed her opportunity to get to know him.

Lots of folks get involved in relationships way too young. My daughter's mother was a bitch when we were together, but it's been more than twenty years and my daughter has reconnected with her now. Is she a saint? No, but she's not the person she was twenty years ago either. If she'd only ever had my memories of her mother to go on, they wouldn't have been flattering. But she took it upon herself to find out what she'd become in the intervening years and found someone worthy of her love.

What if her father became a decent fellow? Is she in contact with anyone who would know? Or are we still basing things on what happened more than twenty years ago? Are you the same man you were twenty years ago? Would you want someone from your past judging you on who you were then instead of finding out who you are now? Based on my reading, I suspect not. You've spoken recently on being able to apologize to people you've wronged before. Why shouldn't he have that same chance?

Yeah, you can say a lot about "why didn't he try before now?" Like I said in the DT, what if he didn't know how and thought he had more time to figure it out? Being terminal spurs a lot of people to actions they might have been too scared to undertake before finding out.

Rob Meadows said...

Zeb, I appreciate your perspective on the situation, but I would like to remind you of two things, one of which I mentioned in my post.

1: I'm still working to get back on my meds. It's only about a week since I started taking them again, so my emotions connect to my thoughts rather badly. This doesn't excuse my rant, it merely explains it.

2: I live with the unforgivable history of my biological mother, who, despite the efforts of *everyone* around her, spews her special brand of vitriol on people she should love. She not only *HATES* her children, but is vindictive when it comes to them. (When last I heard, she was going to leave $1 in her will to my youngest brother so "he'll get something, and can't contest the will." I'm probably in the same boat, even though it was her who wanted me to die somewhere other than her apartment, and it was me who offered to sit and talk when Stu was sick.

The latter part of my explanation remains so incredibly painful, yet there's no way to fix it. Not ever. I know my mother. She will go to her deathbed, angry at me for not being her version of the perfect child.

So...I'll be sure to point out to Becky your comment, as well as mine. She has to realize that even when I seem oh so charming, some of the wiring in my head is crossed. And try not to worry too much. I'll get better.

Oh...one more thing. For all of my ranting, I *DID* let my Uncle Jimmy back into my life after being gone for...well, all of it. And he turned out to be a great guy. Maybe Becky's father will turn out to be the same.