My life became a novela in April. I have been open about the fact that I let my father back in my life in the summer of 2016 and went to meet his new family in the summer of 2017. My motive behind reconnecting was because I did not want to wonder how I would feel if my father died and I never talked to him again.
I’m going to preface this with the fact that I don’t know if my father is alive anymore. So I suppose I’ll use past tense as I write because that is how I feel. As soon as the man left my life again last week, he became dead to me.
My father was a user and a manipulator. This was the reason I didn’t want him in my life when I became an adult and had the option to no longer have contact with him. He didn’t help my mom at all when it came to raising us, and when he did come to visit us, the visits were unpleasant. He was a miserable person that complained about how hard his life was, talking very badly about my mother (when we were kids who were being raised by her), and didn’t show an interest in what we were doing with our lives at all. He didn’t show up to things we invited him to because he didn’t want to see my mom or her family. The one event he showed up to of mine was uninvited, and it was my high school graduation. He insisted that we go out to dinner with him, leaving my mother and grandmother behind (WHO BOTH RAISED ME!) and informed my siblings that he had another baby with a new woman a few months prior. It was the worst news. Shortly after that, he started to pester me about helping him get citizenship for his new woman to this country. I was barely 18, fresh out of high school, and scared. This was the most involved he was in my life since I was 12. It was only to pester me about asking for more hours at work so I could be the legal affidavit of support for this person. Yeah, me. The daughter he ignored for years he suddenly needed a huge favor from for a woman I didn’t even know. He guilted me about loyalty, how my new half-brother was my blood, and how this was the right thing to do. I had enough sense to say “fuck that noise” and didn’t talk to him again for almost 10 years.
My father took horrible care of himself. He had multiple health issues that I knew about and when 2016 hit, I had several things happen around me that made my spirit feel like I needed closure with him. Several of my friends’ father’s died that year and a class I was taking in my final semester in undergrad had a lot to do with the philosophy behind choices, and my professor shared his personal pain with his daughter no longer talking to him. So, I reached out. He immediately called me after I sent a letter to his PO Box and we started to talk a little.
I went to see him twice. Once over the summer and once before Christmas. I met my half brother who was now 8 years old and a person. He was fun and sweet. His existence due to my father’s fucked up choices is not his fault. I met my father’s “wife” (I don’t even know if they’re really married) and she was nice. After those visits, he got really sick and I became the primary contact for him to start asking for favors, again. Can I blame him? I guess not. He had no one other than those two. Everyone else in his family he burned bridges with or they were dead. As a matter of fact, two weeks after I rekindled the relationship he called me from the hospital asking for a ride from San Diego to Mexico (where he lived) because he had to have an emergency amputation surgery due to complications from diabetes. Two. Weeks. I said no, but this was just the beginning.
My father had end-stage renal disease. He only let me know what he wanted me to know and I found things out from actually taking him to the doctor and asking questions. He’s an American citizen and received health care here, but still didn’t adhere to the medical recommendations which led to his health getting so bad. He called me and asked for the favor of taking him to get his fistula surgery (I live 4 hours away) and his wife called me again when he was emergency admitted into the hospital for going into kidney failure a month later. She was unable to handle any of this shit because she can’t cross the border. I am resentful. I told the case manager at the hospital that I felt like I was being dumped on and she said, “well, you’re not. He’s your family.” Okay. So I took the plunge.
Eventually, my mom felt mercy for my father and let him come to stay with us where we live so his three kids could help him. It turned sour very quickly, he was ungrateful because no matter what we did it wasn’t enough because it wasn’t his way, and he made the decision to go back to Mexico with his wife and son. My dad was a narcissistic machismo who would rather die with pride than anything else. He said a lot of awful things that I want to keep to myself, but one being “you will probably never see me again.” It was the truth though. I probably won’t. And I am at peace with that, I think. I have regained a huge sense of spirituality because I have to have something to lean on in the amount of pain I have experienced throughout these last three months, and I feel as if this was meant to happen. He came to spend some of his last moments with his kids but we weren’t given a fake show of what we missed. It was who he truly is. He also got to go back with his wife when we were originally thinking he was never going to see them again because he was going to find a place to live out here so he could be near us and receive the health care he needs. He said he wanted to keep in contact with us and he’d call when his plane landed. He never called. Honestly, it is probably better this way. I said my goodbye to him already.
The unexpected emotions and feelings I have endured throughout this have been overwhelming. I feel like I am celebrating the release of pain while feeling an incredible amount of grief for the fun father I had before he spiraled out of control all of those years ago. He once was a fun person. He was a talented cook that was creative with his fruit plate designs, made sure I had fun birthday parties when I was a kid with pinatas, played mariachi music so loud it embarrassed the hell out of me and gave me permission to punch this girl on the bus that called me a “puta.” That’s about all I remember.
I am back in the unknown that I was in for years of not knowing whether he is dead or alive. Logically, I know he will die without dialysis. Logically, I know he will probably not have the same health care where he is in Mexico (and he is no longer near the border so he can’t just cross. He also signed over his pink slip to his truck to me before he left because he can no longer drive, so there’s that.) I think he reached a point where he gave up but there is a denial and fear in me that he is going to show up again and ask for his truck back because he’s going to be able to care for himself. Logically, I know that won’t happen but grief makes you feel weird things I guess. He called my tio before he left and my tio was honest with him… “Si vas a Mexico, vas a morir! Seguro.” But he left anyway. This was probably the first time he actually made an adult decision for himself in this entire process without looking at me to jump in and handle it for him.
I feel shocked by the need that I have for support from family and friends with dealing with this. There have been nights where I’ve called my brother crying and just asked him to sit with me. I’ve had some great friends talk me through stuff and remind me that I need to take care of myself too, even if it is just making sure I take a shower for the day.
I want to encourage people to provide support to others that go through things like this. Providing a listening ear and a non-judgmental attitude is the most helpful thing for healing. Every day I am experiencing new emotions, but having the few people that listen to what I’m going through makes me feel strong enough to get out of bed and face the day head-on. I have a full, healthy life ahead of me. I have goals to become a speech pathologist and make differences in others lives. This situation affirmed that I am compassionate to a fault and will advocate for people until their death.
Thanks for reading.