Both of my parents are gone, but when they were alive my life was different. Growing up there was never any “validation”, there was no physical contact (not that I or they were touchy feely kids of people). I remember my father always responding with words to the effect of “you did very well, but you could have done better”. My parents loved me, and were proud of me, but I think it was clear early on that while I was an intelligent, articulate, bright child I was not destined for greatness or major success (nothing like gold medals, or Pulitzer Prize). As an adult things were still tense between my parents and I, it was not until I stood up to my father one time physically (as a child he used extreme force with me) he made a motion towards me physically and I stopped him and informed him that may not be a dance he wants to have with me, because he will not have a pleasant outcome, nor will I allow him to lay another hand on me. He chose to back down and never attempted to raise his hand to me again, that was the beginning of our parent child relationship change to acknowledging I was no longer a child but an adult.
There were many other benchmarks I remember that were changing events in our relationship. While I never felt I was their pride and joy, I had success in my life they were proud of. One month after I was married my mother was diagnosed with progressive stage terminal cancer. Talk about rocking my world, I had just gotten married (one of the important benchmarks in a mothers life). I now had to adjust to two life altering events, marriage and reality of loosing my mother before I thought it was time or was willing to loose her. I needed her to help guide me thru trials and tribulations of married life (at that point she had lived the married life for 30 something years), and I needed her help to raise children, for that matter I also needed my fathers assistance (he was one of the last true gentlemen that could teach my kids the old ways). My husband and I discussed the issue and decided to push up getting pregnant to ASAP, I wanted to allow as much time possible for my mother to be a Grammy. Fortunately time was on our side, I fell pregnant within a few months of trying, and the following spring my son was born, he was the the light of my parents life. They were so happy to be grandparents, I do not remember them ever being so happy, and content life had come full circle for them.
My mothers biggest fear of dying was leaving my father and I alone together, he and I were always contentious together and were better with a mediator of sorts. I told her it would be ok, I had to give her permission to let go. She fought with stage IV metastatic cancer for three years, her quality of life was the best ever. Why you ask, mostly because my father finally realized life was short make it worthwhile, and because I took care of her to the end. She died almost fours years after the initial diagnosis (with only a terminal prognosis). The spring before she died she said to me “when am I going to get a granddaughter?”, thanks mom again I got pregnant almost immediately. I was five months pregnant with my daughter when my mother died. She wanted to live to see the birth, but the cancer had begun ravaging her body by that point and she was tired, I begged her to rest and let go, finally she did.
The relationship between my father and I changed immediately, it was actually kind of odd, I noticed during the funeral preparations he was behaving differently towards me. A week or so after the funeral I noticed our communications had changed, we were not disagreeing about everything, and were actually able to laugh with each other. It was as if a weight had been lifted and we could at last be friends. Sadly as my friendship with my father developed my marriage crumbled (we honestly it was crumbling before that, he was not supportive during my mothers last few months), organically I began withdrawing from my marriage and lost the desire to work at a one sided relationship. I sought more influence from my father for my very young children. My father was ready willing and able, in fact proud to oblige me in teaching my children the “old ways”. We had a few good years…
Four years later I finally gave my father permission to to kick my husband out of the house (we all shared a humongous house), it was over and the children were beginning to show signs of stress. No sooner than that life altering event my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer (a different one than my mothers). My father did not have the same constitution as my mother, and was not a “fighter” to speak of. While he did not actually die of the cancer, it was complications that came along with giving up on life. Until he was given the diagnosis he felt he had a reason to live (the kids and me), once he learned about the diagnosis his will was gone. His survival was 10 short months. My fathers dying wish was my divorce, I said to him that I could not handle the emotional trauma of divorce and taking care of him and as soon as I had his business squared away I promise I would finish the divorce that had been started a few months earlier. I kept my promise, a few days after his funeral I called the attorney and instructed them to proceed.
I never really mourned my mothers passing, I jumped immediately into the role of provider for a different environment, while we lived together before she died things were different with her gone. I was now basically running the whole house and family. I used to joke and say I had four children two I gave birth to my husband and my father. I stayed too busy to “miss or mourn” my mother, so it was not until my father died that I actually was forced to face the reality I was alone in the world, my family as I knew it was no more. The only blood relatives left were my children, and a few distant (and disconnected) relatives I had absolutely no communication with. It took about six months but I finally broke down and couldn’t handle life anymore.
My son was becoming angrier by the day, my daughter was still to young and innocent. How was I to raise these two young children all alone? No guidance, no support, and no husband. It took a few months I got better and was able to function as a parent. I went to counseling for me and for parenting. It was time for me to take back my life. I did just that, by this point the economy had crashed and it took a couple of years to find employment that was conducive to single parenting (going back to work at what I did before was not an option). I landed employment, a roof over our heads, on the road to a better life.
Fast forward to today, I am still employed (thankfully), my kids are in school passing all subjects, and we are living life again. I miss my parents horribly, some days I wish I could pick up the phone and call my parents for advice, or just to talk. Life is getting better…