Gone, but never forgotten

Dear M,

One of the things I have had a lot of difficulty with since you passed away is the fact you did not have an obituary. At the time, I think your parents were so overcome by grief and the logistics of dealing with your apartment that they just were not even able to think about that. I know you said you did not want a service, which I reiterated to your mother, but I never imagined that you would not have an obituary. I kept waiting and checking online to see if one was posted. It feels so unfair. You had so many accomplishments, so many people who cared about you and it feels like your family just wanted to keep your death so private…almost like they were ashamed of you. I have never been ashamed of you, my love. Meg passed away a couple of weeks ago. She suffered much the same way you did and her family wrote and printed an obituary. She deserved that. You deserved that.

Many people, including my sister and my therapist, have recommended that I write one for you. Not to publish or for anyone else to read, but just for myself…and for you. I have put it off because I thought it would be too hard, too sad, but in a weird way it wasn’t. I kind of enjoyed writing it because I am proud of how much you accomplished and it reminded me of so many of your wonderful qualities. Just because someone struggled with addiction and mental illness does not take away from all of their positive traits and doesn’t diminish their achievements. Those things ultimately did not define you. But these things did:

MCH (1983-2021)

            Son of C. and C. Brother to A. and her husband, D. “Funcle” to G. and J. Godfather to M.E.J. M. is survived by many cousins, friends, coworkers, and the A. family.

            Growing up in BT, M. attended MLHS and the U.D., receiving a B.A. in Sociology. He later attended W.U., receiving an MBA. After successfully becoming a PMP, M. landed his dream job with MLB., where he was able to travel to Europe several times.

            An avid Yankees fan, M. attended games regularly. He loved bowling (and once scored a 298!), scuba diving with his father, and listening to music.  M. could often be found sitting on his deck, smoking a cigar, and streaming a baseball game, while simultaneously blasting songs by The Rolling Stones or Biggie Smalls.  M. was famous for his extensive shoe, sneaker, and watch collections and loved showing them off with pictures on Instagram (#sofreshandsoclean).

            M. is predeceased by his grandparents and his beloved black Labrador retriever, J.  No doubt she was waiting to greet him, and they are now reunited, playing ball for hours, taking long hikes, going for rides in his truck, and swimming in a beautiful lake. M. loved dogs “more than most people” and volunteered with the SPCA. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in his name to that organization.

♥️

Remembering…

ottawa_funeral_flowers

This is going to sound incredibly weird and very morose and a little disturbing, but I created this blog to be completely honest with myself and with anyone who happens to read it.  Sometimes when I am in bed at night and I am having trouble falling asleep, I imagine writing and delivering my father’s eulogy.  My father is still alive, yet I have been doing this for years.  I just realized that I have never even told my therapist that I do this!

I picture myself looking out among the mourners who have gathered in a funeral home to say goodbye to my dad, with my mother and sister sitting in the front row.  I imagine that I am up at a podium, dressed in all black.  Every single time I picture this scenario, I begin by saying, “My father was not a very good man…”   I envision that the already quiet room goes completely still.  Some people who are there do not know the whole truth about my father.  The rest of the eulogy changes from time to time…different stories, different memories, but for the most part it goes like this:

“My father was not a very good man.  As many of you know, my father struggled with alcoholism for the majority of his adult life.  This impacted and complicated many of the relationships he had with those of you here, but mostly this had a horrible effect on our family.  My father did a lot of terrible, hurtful, unspeakable things to us.  But I can stand here and tell you one thing with 100% certainty.  My father loved me.  He loved my mother and he loved my sister.  He would have done anything in the world for us.  I never have questioned this fact.  And I- we- loved him, too.  I know the irony of this statement, but I also remember the man my father was before he started drinking.  So many of my happy childhood memories included him.  He was the ‘fun’ dad…the one who would pile all the neighborhood kids into the wagon of his tractor and pull us up and down the street.  He was the dad who would do an amazing cannonball into the pool and then would spend countless hours throwing my sister and I up into the air so we would splash into the water.  He was the dad who impulsively bought a Porsche, but got the model with the tiny backseat, so my sister and I could squeeze in and go for rides with him.  I have so many memories of being in that car, him blasting “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer and steering the wheel with his knee…”

This is about how far I normally get before I fall asleep.  I have often wondered why I do this, but maybe it is just to remind myself that for all of the bad, there has been some good.  I have a poor memory and often cannot remember my early childhood memories.  Over the years, I have stopped trying to do so because so many of them are painful.  Perhaps this is my way of recalling that life with my father has not been all bad…and that some of it is worth remembering.