I got the call today I didn’t want to hear but I knew that it would come

It came by way of text. My father had passed away. When you are estranged no one calls you when they are sick, or in the hospital, or dying, or dead, or buried, and truthfully you can’t expect it because that is what estranged means. It means you’re alienated.

He made it to 80 and like his daughter he lived his life his way. Many broken pieces, a mother he called formally, Doña Julia, so you kind of get the picture just in this sentence alone of what his childhood must have been like although he never spoke of it. Then off to a war in Korea at the age of 17 where the United States Army taught him to be a paratrooper. You didn’t dare sneak up on him while he was sleeping or you risked being hit. He’d wake with such a fright, swinging and yelling. One can only imagine what his mind carried.

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes

My mother called him a Disneyland dad. He took us on crazy adventures and didn’t make me comb my hair and I loved him for that. I ended up in a hospital in Mazatlán at the age of 9 or 10. I had been given money to have a good day while my dad worked in our hotel room. I was told under no circumstances was I to eat off a street vendor, I was to come back to the hotel to eat. I didn’t listen and ended up violently ill with scary high fever.  He taught me to not respond to men’s whistles because I was not a dog to be fetched. He taught me to value myself and when I didn’t he was deeply disappointed and said so in no uncertain terms, and when he was exasperated with me or disappointed he called me, “Doña Julia”, so, there you go, another piece of the puzzle. He also taught me to respect others and to argue a point without taking it personally. Politics was a forefront of discussion and he was a die-hard Democrat. When my son was two he nicknamed him Gaddafi because he said he was a dictator and we were all subjects.

The more I know, the less I understand,
All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again

We loved each other like a dad and a daughter do and I can rest assured in that fact. We made up our own dance moves to The Hustle back in the day. We sang at the top of our lungs to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin songs as we drove down a winding mountain road at night, and then for fun turned off the lights to the car so that it was pitch black to see how we would make it down the hill “one way or the other”. He was into teaching his children no fear and no tears. We would squeal with laughter and we were taught to be brave. We ate McDonalds in the back of a Piper while he taught us to fly. I fell in love with Kiss in 6th grade so when they came to the LA Coliseum he took me as he was cool like that. He didn’t even make a scene when the drugs were being passed down the aisle, it was the 70’s and there was still a sense of community. He just shouted for me to pass it on down, and to not be scared or bothered. He made me realize that I could set myself apart but I would have to choose. He taught me I had control of my world and I could run it as I wanted. He held me accountable to that for sure and it broke my heart to bits when I disappointed him.

I’ve been tryin’ to get down
To the heart of the matter                                                                                                                                       But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter    

Somehow I knew this day was coming. I got a nudge this past summer. “If you’re going to go and see your dad you should go now.” However, I didn’t. What is passed is past and the freedom that comes in forgiveness allows you to walk away not without a sense of loss but with a peace that it is what it is and life isn’t always a fairytale with a neatly wrapped bow at Christmas and you honor people’s decisions.

But I think it’s about forgiveness                                                                                                                                  

Today as I wrap up the Christmas shopping and do a few last minute things at work, there are tears and there is a sense of deep deep loss. He would hate the tears but love the fact that I feel a loss. It would serve his sense of justice and because I am cut of the same cloth it serves mine as well. My mother said not to think too much. She said he also had a responsibility to mend a fence but  I know that broken people don’t and stubborn people don’t and somehow I have to figure out which one I am because we are all in process to the end.

There are people in your life
Who’ve come and gone
They let you down
You know they hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you baby
‘Cause life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger
It’ll eat you up inside baby

Thanks Don Henley for putting it in perspective.


One thought on “Estranged

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