Month: January 2016

Padre

If you were to look up “passive aggressive” in the dictionary, chances are, you’ll find a picture of me and father staring back at you. We’d be giving each other a wicked case of side eye, and you, the viewer, would surely think, “Damn. What’s up with those two?”

The father/daughter relationship can go a few ways; “daddy’s little girl,” or monstrous issues between the two caused by a plethora of actions when growing up. Daddy was never there, Daddy was an abusive prick, Daddy abandoned the family in favor of a shiny new family, etc. The list is endless for what causes a rift between a man and his offspring.

For the most part, I grew up as the apple of my father’s eye. I have been told I was a very easy child to raise and rarely gave my parents much issues to lose sleep over at night. I was terrified of causing trouble because my older brother took care of that for them. I mostly read quietly in my room or wrote stories. In fact, when I was a freshman in high school, I had The Talk with my parents. No, not the birds and bees, but “you need to stop staying home all the time and start having a social life.” Or something like that…I wasn’t really paying attention because I was in the middle of a book and all I was thinking about was for them to finish their lecture so I could get back to it. I didn’t drink a lick of alcohol until I was 21 and even then, it was two fuzzy navel wine coolers. I got sloppy with Bartels and James. The worst thing I did was when I was 20 and a friend of mine and I decided we should give smoking a try because we’re legally allowed to buy cigarettes and hadn’t exercised this god-given right yet. I was home for the weekend from college and my father was changing the oil in my car and found the pack of Marlboro’s in my back seat. He yelled at me. I cried. Did I mention I was 20?

Some of my earliest memories of growing up were with my dad. I was his little sidekick and almost always with him in his pickup truck, seated close to him on the slippery vinyl bench seat, sliding back and forth whenever he’d take a corner too fast. Or, I’d be in the bed of the truck with our massive black dog (hey, it was the ’80s) and I’d open the sliding back window and poke my head through into the cab and Dad would always let out a loud guffaw. That’s his daughter! The silly girl!

My father was my superman. He could do no wrong, and why would he want to? And he had a really great mustache. I mean, honestly. Facial hair that great could only mean he was infallible to the lesser man. He was a great father and husband and loved us and provided for us all. Sure, we didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but both he and my mother did a fairly decent job of not making that a concern to my brother and me. We were a happy Midwestern family. All was right in our little world.

You know when you admire someone, like a celebrity of some sort, and finally get to meet them and much to your disappointment, they turn out to be an asshole? Their bright smile and public eye version of themselves is just a facade. That’s kind of how I felt the day I realized my father–my strong, doting basis for how I perceive all men–was in fact, human, and not immune to anything.

***

The rising sun hit my face in slivers through the window blind, covering me in fake grill marks. I flutter my eyelids against the light, rolling over on my side to get a few more minutes of precious sleep, but I can tell the intrusion has me up, which annoys me since this is my only day off this week. I kick the tangle of sheets and comforter off my legs and stare up at the popcorn ceiling. Occasionally, I would wake up with a tiny, glittery styrofoam ball in my hair when a bit would fall down on me during the night. This house is starting to show its age and gradually falling apart on us. First, flakes of ceiling, but who’s to say the entire roof won’t come crashing down on me at some point? Death by suffocation isn’t uncommon, but I was always under the impression I’d die of the auto-erotic type, not failing structural stability.

I look up and count the bare patches above me while I try to find the motivation to get up for the day. Much like sheep, doing this makes my eyelids flutter in the threat of returning back to sleep. I startle myself awake with a full body jerk. I had dozed off for a few seconds. I wonder what it would be like to be laying next to someone in bed and do this and if they would think I was okay. I have always heard when you do that in your sleep, you’re bringing yourself back from the dead.

With a defeated sigh, I swing my legs over the side of the bed and straighten my torso upright, a blade of light cutting my eyes causing me to squint and make the Popeye face: one eye closed tight and lips in a snarl. I flip the bird to the sun outside. I’m not really a morning person.

I reach over to my night stand and pick up my phone; gotta check Facebook to see what I missed while I was sleeping! Nothing much, as it turns out. No big surprise there. I do a bit of stalking, though. You see, there’s this guy and I kind of have a thing for him and I check to see if he’s posted anything new. He shared a video of a cat playing the keyboard, and I hit the “like” button. God bless the internet. I stare at his profile picture for a few seconds longer than what is considered polite, and the scene from “Wayne’s World” pops into my head; you know the one where Wayne sees Cassandra for the first time and Gary Wright’s song “Dream Weaver” plays. He will be mine. Oh yes, he will be mine.

I scroll through my timeline a few minutes longer until I decide I’m caught up with everyone’s kids, minion memes, and political opinions. I was about to start over from the top in case someone posted something new, when I hear it: shouting from somewhere in the house. At first I assume it’s the TV, but as I listen more carefully, I realize it’s my mother. What the fuck is going on? I sit still and try to grasp onto every word being yelled.

“You fucker!” she screams.

Holy shit. This cannot be good.

“How long has this been going on?!” The anger in her voice is impressive. I’ve only heard her sound this angry once before, and that’s when my brother told her that he was moving to Texas to be with a woman he had met online.

My father replies to her, but I can’t make out what he said, but whatever it was caused Mom to start crying loudly. I want to come out of my room to find out what’s going on, but I don’t dare. Instead, I get up off my bed and walk closer to my door and press my head against it. The pale pine wood is cool against my ear and I breathe in the scent. It reminds me of Christmas and snow and for a second, I can hear the wind blowing through a forest of pine trees, stirring the needles around.

“I’m sorry,” Dad says, his voice is low and soft. Mom cries harder.

“You…(gasp)…you need…to leave!” she chokes out, struggling to get her breath over her tears.

“Helen…”

“Leave!!” she screams. I don’t have to see her to know her face is bright red and the tips of her ears are white. Her mascara is probably streaking down her lovely cheekbones, as well. I look more like my dad, but I do have her cheekbones. I absently reach up and touch my face to make sure that’s still true.

I hear Dad open then shut the front door, get into his pickup truck, start the engine, and drive away. I wonder for a fleeting moment if he’ll ever come back and this incident is the last time I’ll ever see him. Mom is still crying. I still stand by my door, unsure of what to do. Maybe if I open the door, time will start over and none of this will happen. I’ll walk out down the hall to the dining room and see my parents drinking their morning coffee, the television mounted on the wall tuned to The Weather Channel.

I decide to give it a shot and walk out of my bedroom, my feet touching the cold hardwood floor as I make my way down the hallway, and my mom’s crying getting louder as I get closer to her. She sees me out of the corner of her eye and quickly tries to compose herself by wiping her tears off her face, but she knows she isn’t fooling anyone.

“Hey,” I say softly. “You okay?”

Mom snorts. “What do you think?”

I sit next to her on the couch and put my head on her shoulder. She strokes my hair, picking out tangles with her long fingernails. We sit in silence.

“Sorry you had to hear that,” she whispers.

“Sorry that happened,” I whisper back. My head bounces on her shoulder because she’s crying again. I reach down and put my hand on her knee and let her cry into my hair. I can feel her tears rolling down my head like sweat and they stop at my eyebrow.

“It’s fucked up…” she says in a raspy voice. “It’s just plain fucked up.”

“What happened?” I ask, not really wanting to know, but do.

Mom keeps stroking my hair; I’m afraid she’s going to rub a bald spot on my scalp.

“Sonuvabitch got caught with his pants down at work with one of his coworkers. The stupid fuck was getting a blow job in his office when his boss walked in and saw a pair of high heels poking out from under his desk.”

I sit up and stare at her. “Are you fucking kidding me?” I ask.

Mom shakes her head no, then laughs. “Of all the fucking idiotic things. What a dumb asshole! He got fired, obviously. I think that’s the only good thing about all this. Fucking moron.”

“Holy shit, Mom!” The shock is overwhelming. How could he do this to us? To Mom? To me?

“I know, babe. I can’t believe it either. Twenty years of marriage…poof.”

***

Fast forward fifteen years. I’m now thirty-five years old. I got married, then divorced, then married again, and in all honesty, I don’t know if the second time around is any better than the first. I’m really not sure why I even got married in the first place. I could spend thousands of dollars a year at various therapists and psychologists trying to figure out my issues with men and  my relationships with them, or I can be blunt and say “my father fucked me up something awful.”

In my defense, I start out in relationships giving it my best effort. I’m attentive, supporting, nurturing, all that stuff. Then as time goes by, I think of my dad. I think that no matter how hard you try, you eventually ruin it all, so why bother anymore? I turn cold and bitter and I get left behind because men can’t deal with my aloofness and distance. I want the relationships to work, I really do, but something in my head tells me I’m not worth the effort and everyone will leave, so why have your heart smashed again? Maybe I should go see a shrink; they’d have a fucking hay day with me.

I turned into a real gem, didn’t I?

I’m currently in the process of trying to force Husband Number Two away from me, and so far, I’m doing very well. In a classic move, I decided to submerge myself into my job. I try to work as many hours as I can, whenever I can. I moved out of our bedroom to the guest room downstairs under the guise of “I get home so late and leave so early; I don’t want to disturb you.” My poor husband doesn’t deserve to be treated like this. Bless his heart.

I was driving home from work two nights ago when my phone rang. The caller ID let me know it was my father. I hit the “ignore” button so hard I was afraid I punched a hole in the screen with my finger. A few seconds later, the phone buzzed to let me know he had left a voicemail. I threw my phone down on the passenger side floor and drove home angry. I pulled into the garage and hit my husband’s bicycle and it toppled over. I kicked it when I got out of my car and threw his bike helmet across the garage at a stack of paint cans. I slammed the door from the garage to the kitchen shut hard enough a framed photo by the door fell down and broke.

“Fuck!” I said through clenched teeth, but left the shattered glass and broken wood on the floor. I opened the fridge, found a can of beer I had hidden in the back since Husband Number Two doesn’t drink, and downed half of it in three big gulps. My commotion must have woken my husband up and he came down into the kitchen and stood in the doorway.

“Everything okay, babe?” he asked.

I took another swig of beer in response.

“Guess not,” he said.

“My dad called me,” I said. I finished the beer and got another from the fridge.

“Oh. Oh, shit…” he said. He entered the kitchen and sat down at one of the stools behind the island in the middle of the room. “What did he say?”

“I didn’t answer it, but he left a message.”

“Did you listen to it?”

“Nope. I threw my phone on the floor. I’m not listening to his shit today.”

I sucked down the second beer, threw the can into the sink, and went to my room, leaving my husband alone in the kitchen.

I didn’t listen to the message until today. I was on break at work and was getting annoyed by the notification that I had a voicemail, so I checked my messages.

“Hey, kid. It’s your dad. Gimme a call when you have a chance, please. It’s kind of important. Hope you’re doing okay. Um, 315…7849, in case you don’t have my number. Okay, bye. Talk to you soon.”

What in the fuck could be so goddamn important? Hearing his voice made me angry, so I decided to tell work I wasn’t coming back from lunch. “Something came up,” I told my boss. She eyed me suspiciously, but didn’t say anything except “okay.”

Now, I sit in my car with my phone in my lap, trying to decide what to do. Should I call him? Or should I not? I hate this and I hate him and I hate whatever he has to say to me. I roll down the window to my car and light up a cigarette, a habit I just decided to take up again about twenty minutes ago as I drove from work to home. I stopped at the gas station a few blocks from our house and got my old brand and a lighter with some tribal zodiac sign bullshit on it. Pisces. I’m a Cancer. It’s been four years since I quit, so the first inhale of acrid smoke made me cough and gag. I can feel the nicotine working and I get dizzy, but it passes. The white cylinder feels oddly comforting between my index and middle fingers and I take another puff, this time I don’t cough.

My phone buzzes on my lap which scares me and it slides off onto the floor of the car. I reach down to pick it up and then drop my cigarette.

“Shit!” There’s a small hole on the floor mat now from where it lands and melts the fuzzy material. I pick the smoke up and toss it out the window after I grab my phone. It’s my dad. I hesitate for a few seconds before swiping the screen to accept the call.

“Hello?” I say. I can feel my heart trying to escape through my throat.

“I didn’t think you’d pick up,” my dad replies. “Thank you for answering. Did you get my message the other night?”

I fight the urge to end the call, but I don’t. “I did. Sorry, work’s been crazy. What can I help you with?”

“Can we meet somewhere? I don’t really want to tell you this over the phone…” His voice sounds small; not like my father at all.

“Uh, sure. I have some things to do, but I guess we can,” I lie.

“Thank you. I know you’re busy, but this won’t take too long. Can you be to that diner we used to go to downtown in twenty minutes? Remember the place I’m talking about?”

I do. We used to eat there every Saturday morning for breakfast. Pancakes with whipped cream and a glass of chocolate milk for me; two eggs over easy, hashbrowns, a slab of fried ham, and cups of black coffee for him. I haven’t been there in years, but I could probably get there with my eyes closed.

“Okay, that’s fine. I’ll be there in twenty,” and I hang up.

I chain smoke as I drive and smoke billows out my open window. Ten minutes later, I pull my car into the parking lot and notice it still looks the same. I decide to sit in here until I see Dad go inside. A few minutes pass and I see him walk inside. I get out and do the same. He is standing at the table, putting his jacket on the back of his chair and sits down. The hostess greets me with a smile and asks where I want to sit. I point to Dad and tell her I’m with him. She hands me a menu and asks what I want to drink. I almost say “chocolate milk” out of habit, but order a Diet Coke instead.

“I’ll have it right out to you, hun,” she says.

Dad sees me walking to him and starts to get up from his seat, but I wave at him to stay sitting.

He looks awful. His once dark blonde hair is now almost all white and so is his beard stubble. His cheeks are sunken and skin greyish and looks loose. I bet if I grab one of his cheeks, I could pull his skin out to arm’s length, like a Stretch Armstrong figure. His once vibrant blue eyes seem dull and the whites of his eyes are bloodshot.

“You look like shit,” I blurt out as I sit down, immediately embarrassed I did so, but Dad laughs.

“Yeah, I’ve seen better days. Hi. You look good, though. How’s work? How’s married life going this time?”

I can feel my cheeks flush and burn. “Everything’s fine, thanks.” Thankfully, the hostess shows up with my drink and I take a long sip off the straw.

“You two know what you want?” she asks us, her pen poised over the small notepad she has in her hand. Dad looks at me with the “go ahead” signal and I ask for a small order of fries. Dad orders a cheeseburger and I have a hard time believing he’ll eat it all since it looks like he hasn’t had anything to eat in a few weeks. The flannel shirt he’s wearing is open at the top few buttons and I can clearly see his collar bones threatening to poke out through his thin skin.

“So…where you from?” he asks. He always used to say that. I smile in spite of myself.

“I come from the land of ice and snow,” I say in response to our old inside joke. Dad chuckles softly.

“Are you curious why you’re here yet?” he asks. I nod my head up and down. “Well, I wanted to let you know that my health isn’t doing very well lately. In fact, it’s plain shit, if I can be honest.” He looks at me to gauge my reaction. So far, I have on my best poker face.

“What kind of troubles are you having?” I ask. Judging his appearance today to the last time I saw him, my mind swirls around the possibilities.

“Cancer. It’s bad. I was told six months to live and that was four months ago.”

I clench my jaw to keep from crying and the idea that I want to cry is making me want to cry harder. My dad has been mostly absent from my life for the last fifteen years by an unspoken mutual agreement we seem to understand we have. Today is the first time I’ve seen him in about eight months.

“Jesus Christ, Dad…”

My French fries and Dad’s burger arrive, breaking the awkwardness.

“Y’all need anything else?” We reply “no” at the same time and our waitress leaves us with our food and years of resentment.

“Are you treating it? Chemo or radiation or…?” I ask. I pick at my fries but don’t eat any. Dad’s cheeseburger remains untouched, as well.

“I did chemo for about two months, but it was awful. Not a big fan of puking my guts out for a week afterwards. Besides, I’m lousy with the stuff, according to my oncologist, so I didn’t really see the point to try to treat it.” He takes the top bun off his sandwich, removing the pickles. “Want these?” he asks. I reach across the table and take them from him, adding them to my untouched fries.

“Have you told my brother?” I ask right as Dad takes a bite of hamburger. I can see a trail of grease slide down the corner of his mouth. He chews slowly and swallows before he answers.

“Not yet. He doesn’t want to answer my calls either.” He offers a small smile, but his eyes betray him. I can tell that hurts him. My brother and I have had many conversations over the past decade and a half about how we’ve chosen to deal with our father.

“Fuck ‘im,” my brother said. “He fucked our family up. He doesn’t deserve us anymore.”

“Exactly,” I agreed. “Fuck that guy. If he cared so much for his family, he’d have kept his dick in his pants.”

Now, I sit across from the man we hate and I feel like I did fifteen years ago when I heard my parents fighting. I long for my bedroom door to protect me from him again, but I don’t have it.

“So, I mean, I hate to sound like an asshole here, Dad, and thanks for telling me this, but why? Are you trying to make amends or something? Because no offense, you might be a bit late to that party.” I pinch a chunk of skin on my right thigh between my thumb and forefinger to keep from crying. He doesn’t deserve my tears, at least not in front of him.

My father just looks at me and doesn’t speak. I can’t tell if he’s angry that I called him out on his bullshit, or sad because he knows I’m right.

After what seems like hours, he talks again. “You’re right. You’re absolutely right. I’ve been a terrible father to you and your brother. I don’t know what I expected by telling you this. I guess part of me hoped it would erase all the bad years we’ve had, but that is stupid of me to think. I’m sorry I wasted your time.”

He stands to leave. “Sit down,” I spit. He does and blinks quickly, shocked I used that tone with him. I am too, actually.

“You have been a complete shit dad, that’s one hundred percent correct. Thank you for admitting that. It doesn’t fix everything, but at least you are aware of how fucking horrible you’ve been. I’m sorry you’re going through this, Dad. I do not like you, and I don’t care enough to feel any empathy for you.”

I reach down to the floor for my purse and fish out my wallet. I open it and take out two twenty dollar bills and toss them on the table.

“Here. This is on me. Take the rest,” I say as I stand up and put on my coat. Dad stays put, his eyes focused on the money. “I’ll tell my brother you want to talk to him.”

I turn and walk out of the diner.

***

Two months later, I see Dad again. The mortician did a decent job making him look not dead. In fact, he looks better today than he did when we met at the diner. I ask him how he managed to make Dad’s cheeks look full. He’s a young guy, younger than I am, and I like the fact he isn’t a stuffy old man who has seen too much death to have any humor left in his life.

He winks at me and says in a hushed voice, “cotton balls inside the mouth between the teeth and cheek. Works like a charm.”

“Huh! No kidding? Is it true that you guys, um, put a plug in ‘down there’?” I motion with my head to the bottom half of Dad’s body. The mortician nods.

It’s the day before the funeral and I’m waiting for my brother to show up at the mortuary to finalize plans and have the wake. Tomorrow is going to be incredibly simple: brief service in the funeral home’s chapel, then off to the cemetery to put our old man in the ground. Refreshments and pie afterwards, of course. Maybe that red Jello salad with the fruit cocktail mixed in it if you’re lucky.

I feel a hand on my shoulder and I jump. “Jesus Christ!” I yell at my brother who just showed up. “Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to sneak up on someone at a funeral home? Goddamn it! Fuck you!” My brother laughs.

The young mortician has a giant grin on his face. “Hi,” he offers his hand to my brother. “I helped with your dad. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Yes,” I say to my brother. “He stuffed cotton in his mouth and jammed a butt plug up his ass. Can’t go to meet Jesus with skid marks on your drawers.”

“Wow. Good work, my friend,” my brother says as he looks Dad over in his coffin.

The owner of the mortuary enters the room where the wake is being held and asks me and my brother to accompany him to his office to go over the next twenty-four hours.

His office is cold and painted an odd color of green; it looks like the puke Linda Blair spews out in “The Exorcist.” We go over the last details. The wake is at five o’clock and will end at eight o’clock. Dad will be wheeled downstairs to the basement overnight to keep him chilled until the funeral tomorrow morning at ten. The service should last about thirty minutes, max. Then, a shiny black limo will escort us to the cemetery where we will put our father into the ground. He never remarried, or if he did, he never told us, so it’ll be a single plot just for him. Easy peasy Japaneasy.

“Any questions?” the owner asks.

My brother and I exchange looks. He crosses his eyes at me and I giggle. “No, I think we’re good here. Let’s get this party started.”

People come and go and pay their respects to our dad. I find myself getting angry at how many show up and tell my brother and me what a great, caring man he was, may he rest in peace. If he was such a wonderful human being, why does he have two children who hate him? When I told Mom about Dad, she just said, “really? Huh.” His fan base among his former family isn’t very strong.

The final mourner leaves a few minutes to eight. My husband showed up about an hour ago, and he, my brother, and I stand in the foyer to the funeral home unsure of what to do next.

“Let’s get shit-faced!” my husband suggests. I give him a look.

“Really?”

“Yeah! Why the fuck not? This asshole made your lives hell for too long. I say we go out and celebrate this fucker’s death with alcohol.”

In that moment, I fell in love with my husband.

The three of us got into my brother’s car and we drove to the nearest bar, which happened to boast the coldest beer in town or your next beer was free. We decide we are up for discrediting this claim and head inside.

Five hours later, we stumble out of the bar. I lost track of how much I drank and had a fleeting thought of, “oh fuck, this is going to hurt later,” but I didn’t care, and I can tell neither my husband or brother did, either. The bartender called a cab for us and we stand waiting for it to show up to haul our drunk asses home.

The next thing I know, my phone alarm is blaring in my ear. Fuck. Someone shifts next to me in my bed. I panic briefly, wondering exactly how much I had to drink last night and what the fuck I did, and I bolt upright in bed. In doing so, the comforter falls away from the sleeping person beside me and I see it’s my husband. He moans and grabs for the blanket to cover himself up again. I have never been more relieved to see him in my life. I check the time on my phone and see it’s eight thirty. Fuck again. We have to be at the funeral home in an hour and if my husband and brother feel the same way I do, it’s going to be a long fucking sixty minutes.

“Hey,” I say as I nudge my husband. “Wake up; we have to get going.”

His response is unintelligible and he rolls over again.

“Babe, seriously. Wake up, we’re going to be late to my dad’s funeral.”

“Oh shit!” He falls out of bed, the blankets wrapped around his feet. Someone else yells out in pain.

“Get off me, you fat fuck!” my brother screams. That asshole fell asleep on the floor of my bedroom. I laugh out loud in spite of how screwed we’re going to be if we don’t get our act together in the next few minutes.

Somehow, we all manage to shower and find our best black clothes and make it to the funeral home with five minutes to spare. All three of us are wearing sunglasses indoors. The little old lady standing at the front door in charge of handing out bulletins for the service clucks at us and mutters, “those poor dears…” as we make our way into the chapel. She thinks we’re beside ourselves with grief and wearing the shades to hide our obviously red and crying eyes. Little does she know we’re in fact hungover and have blinding headaches.

Everyone from last night’s wake shows up, and then some. The tiny chapel is soon at capacity, with many more standing in the side aisles. I don’t recognize anyone. My stomach churns, but not because of all the alcohol, but because of the anger returning. Who are these people? Did they also think my father was a terrific man and how amazing he was? Fuck them. I wonder if they know I’m his daughter and this is my brother and he left us behind? My guess is no.

As promised, the service was short and to the point. Don’t be saddened by his passing, rejoice in his life…or other way away around if you’re us.

We were all quiet in the limo ride to the cemetery. I shook out handfuls of Tylenol to my husband and brother and hand them bottles of water from the mini fridge by me. We drink in silence and arrive at the cemetery. People park behind us and on the narrow driveways around us and walk towards the green awning and pile of dirt covered with a blanket of green carpet. We sit in the three wooden chairs set out in front of Dad’s casket. It’s covered in white and yellow roses, but those aren’t from us. We didn’t buy any flowers for him. There’s a few ribbons with words written in gold glitter sticking out from the flowers and I squint to read what they say.

Uncle. Friend. Brother. Father.

I don’t see the one that’s supposed to say “lying jackass.”

People behind us are crying softly and blowing their noses into damp handkerchiefs. Meanwhile, I haven’t cried once. The pastor from the funeral home stands behind Dad’s coffin and opens his bible to read some verses. I focus more on my headache and glad I took the pain reliever, otherwise, the sunlight reflecting off the brass handles of Dad’s pine casket would be blinding me.

“Amen,” everyone says. I stay quiet. Dad is lowered into the ground and people make their way up to the hole in the ground, some tossing things into it so Dad can take them to heaven with him, I guess. Slowly, the crowd thins out and cars start up to head to the reception hall booked for the obligatory funeral lunch. Neither I or my brother move. My husband gets up first and stands over the hole, looking down. Thirty seconds later, he winks at me. He points to the waiting limo and I nod.

Now, it’s just me and my brother. I feel him squeeze my hand hard. I didn’t realize he had grabbed it. He stands and pulls me up with him and leads me to our father. We don’t say a word for a very long time, just stare down into the ground where the man who was supposed to be our dad now lies.

My brother lets my hand go and walks over to the pile of dirt. I watch him, unsure of what he’s going to do.

He kicks a huge pile of dirt into the hole, the dust hiding him for a second before it clears the air. He kicks another pile, and another, and another. I can hear the bigger chunks ricochet off the top of the casket and wonder if Dad can hear them from inside.

“Asshole to ashes, dirtbag to dust,” my brother says and he turns to walk to the limo.

I follow him.

And with that, we left our father in the ground.

 

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