My Family – The Phoenix – Part 1

When I started writing this blog it was a bunch of crazy dates and series about past relationships. But I knew it would grow and evolve. Now that the dust has settled in my life I can get to the business of writing about what I really want to express. My life. (Don’t worry there will always be crazy dating stories!)

Last year my sisters and I buried our parents.

My mother had died the year before at 86. She was a wonderful woman who was a good wife and mother. She lived with RA (Rhematoid arthritis) for 40 years but never complained and put up with my father for 60 plus years.

She was in assisted living for the last year of her life. She was happy there and said she was never going home. She was with her peers and I know she was comfortable there in her final days.

She always said she wanted to go in her sleep. I think everybody wants that. Just go to bed one night and then just disappear peacefully and quietly. No fear. No pain. Just gone.

The day breaks tomorrow and the world does what it does and you’re just not in it anymore.

Your memory lives on with your loved ones for a while but after a generation, unless you’re famous you’re simply gone. It’s as if you never existed.

She went to bed one night in her pajamas, snuggled down in her bed and just went to Heaven. Just what she wanted. She deserved that.

My mother was a good woman who was really good at taking care of children and a house and animals that she almost seemed born to it. I don’t know if she ever wanted anything more, but my mother never even learned to drive. She didn’t need to and liked to be in her home, doing her thing and drinking her tea.

When she passed she was cremated and her remains were put in a lovely wooden box with a pretty bird carved into the top. My mother always loved birds.

Maybe she always felt like a caged bird. I don’t know.

My father kept the box on the dining room table after she died. I think that’s morbid, but maybe he just wanted some semblance of her there in the big old house with him.

Because now he was alone there. No one to listen to his stories, fears and ailments that didn’t exist or whatever.

My mother was the greatest listened I’ve ever met. The absolute apex of a good listener. I know this because my middle sister April can really talk a lot. So can my Dad. She was always sweet and genuinely interested in what you had to say. She kept her opinions to herself.

There was a surge of attention around my father when my mother died. My father loved attention. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very charming man and is absolutely great with people. He knows how to get it done in a unique and elegant way. Where do you think I learned all of my moves? I took the best of him, and have done my best to discard the worst.

Before my mother died I had conversations with my dad about how he was worried he would run out of money because the facility she was living in cost so much every month. He actually said, “I’m going to end up in the Veteran’s Home because I’ll be broke.” Healthcare in this country is a financial nightmare, but why would he think that?

Why would he say that?

Fear. But it seemed contrary to his character. I think she was living too long. “She’s very frail” he would say to me all the time. It’s like he needed her to go. I get that. I have a really firm grasp of what life is and what death is too.

I’ve been alarmingly close to them both and although one is priceless and precious, death can swoop in on its black wings and snatch the innocent away for no reason.

So dude… live for today.

Have you met your first-born daughter that you love and loves you more than you can even grasp?

My sister Janice.

You’re never going to end up in the Veteran’s Home, man. Not under Janice’s watch. You should rest easy and smile that you have the strongest person in the family looking out for you and Mom’s best interest.

Free of charge.

But my mom passed and it was sad, but she was ready to go. I’m grateful to all three of my sisters for being present through all of that because I was not. I was just living my life here in Philly doing my thing and popping into the occasional holiday party with one of my young girlfriends.

They did it all, especially Janice.

So once the surge of attention, mourning, adulation, cards, letters, love, and people faded as they always do. My dad decided to fold up his tent and go home.

Initially the loss of mom was sad but she was a really old lady, and we all loved her but we were all prepared for her to leave. You have to prepare yourself for that. Forgive me, but I don’t understand why I see people suffering so long after losing their parents. They lived their lives. You had them for so long but everybody has to leave. No one gets out of here alive.  You have to be ready for that.

The dead have a responsibility to the living and vice versa.

But there is a sense of relief that Mom is now at peace and not suffering with the pain of RA and old age. She was ready to go and she went in her chosen way.

I’d see Dad and he was happy and his usual jovial self. I’d talk with him on the phone and we’d be trading stories and it was amazing. He was finally telling me all of the wild stories from his past that I was never old enough to hear. It was great! I was even managing his Netflix because we both love film and that’s something we’ve alway been really close about.

 

But once the light completely went out on my mom and he was alone in that big house he started to want to get out of here himself. I still don’t full understand it but I think my sister Janice may because she was so much closer to the day-to-day grind of watching him plan his going from this world.

Something changed. He just gave up and got tired of playing onstage anymore. He just wanted to quit the band and work on his solo career in heaven.

It was like he was slowly trying to commit suicide. That’s not allowed in this country but I think if it were and he wanted to really go. I know my father well enough that if he wanted me to I would have been okay with him blowing his last breath in my face.

Because he put my sister Jan through hell that last year. No one will ever know how intense that was but I’ve heard from my sisters. It was as if he was this crazy tiger that kept all his powers, weaknesses, greatness and demons locked up in a den somewhere and then the old cat was left inside that den to suddenly deal with them. All of the things in himself that he had never been fixed came to the surface and cooked him alive.

I’ve lived with anxiety and depression my entire life. I turned it into art and sometimes turned to alcohol just to turn off the pain for a few hours. I like it, but I never let that shit own me. I have a strong sense of identity.

I know my father intimately. I understand his psyche. I forgave my parents for everything in my forties. You have to do that to move forward in your life.

 

Let go of the bars of your cell. Let them fall to the ground and take a step. Embrace who you are and how hard they tried to raise the four of you with not a lot of money. How they had challenges with each other in their marriage and how they should have gotten a divorce but didn’t to hold it together for you and your sisters.

How they became husband and wife and then parents to little new minds and did the very best they could with all they knew.

Much of it was so wrong but for the most of it was pretty darn right. My family is super normal and so are their children.

Even though I have felt much more of the scorn of both of my parents, I’ve managed to rise up from my own weaknesses and be a decent and wise father to my daughter, Lorelei.

I’m blessed with a lovely child that I barely deserve. She too has a strong identity and risen up from the flames of her upbringing with her mother to shine beautifully like the morning sun.

Tune in tomorrow.

I’m you about the day that my parents were really gone.

 

 

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Author: phicklephilly

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4 thoughts on “My Family – The Phoenix – Part 1”

      1. I think this is a very cathartic series and, having read part 2, can see that it will actually impact your life, going forward, by releasing so much of what you might feel towards your parents. No matter how good a job they did, there is always something. Glad you forgave them, some time back.

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