The weekend is almost here. And my last day of work zooms ever closer. Next week I’m off work for several days so I can meet my brother in B.C. to spread our father, Giulio’s, ashes. We will bury most of them with our mother and spread some along the waterfront in White Rock, which was where he lived and died. He loved that place. It was the goal of him and our mother, Gwen, to retire there. He lived out that dream on her behalf. We also plan on taking some ashes to Italy to scatter there. My brother and I both feel strongly that he would have wanted that.
It’s only been eight and a half months, but I’m over his death. He died October 27, 2012 but I was over his death by Christmas. It’s funny, but I feel nothing. Let me take that back; I feel relief. Liberation. I never have to put up with his abuse anymore. He can’t hurt me anymore. He will never ignore me like a piece of furniture anymore. I guess that’s why his memory is a footnote.
Yet that footnote continues on for pages in my life. He was my father and I whored myself for decades to gain his acceptance. Sometimes I wonder if he secretly exulted over the control I gave him in my life. Did he enjoy watching me squirm? Did he enjoy the heartbreak in my eyes as he abused me viciously?
The remembrances are different for my brother, of course. In his eulogy, my brother rhapsodized over what a “great man” Giulio was. But his definition of “great man” is different from mine. In his eyes Giulio was a great man because Giulio taught him how to be a success. That’s true, my brother is a multi-millionaire. Simple things like common human decency, respect and a healthy values system needn’t apply.
For me a great man is one who takes responsibility for his actions, accepts accountability, apologizes, works to grow and learn, and has respect for others’ opinions. Giulio was nothing like that. He refused to understand the parts he played in the problems of his life, refused to apologize to those he hurt and ran from the truth. Quite frankly, I have to say that my father was definitely not a great man–not in my eyes. But then, that’s my reality and it is the polar opposite of my brother.
It’s rough to feel that way. It’s rough to know these things about the man who produced me. I don’t want him to be that way. I want Andy of Mayberry. Mike Brady. Instead I got two fathers, adoptive and biological, who failed miserably as fathers. And now I have to paint a smile on my face and drive to B.C. to meet my brother and pretend that a man who was basically a shit ass was something he wasn’t.
But I will do it. Why? Because despite what my father thought of me, I’m twenty times the man he couldn’t or wouldn’t be. I will swallow my pride and make an appearance because this is important to my brother and my brother is dear to me. I won’t demonize him. I have no need to. He’s dead and there’s no reason to trash someone who can’t defend himself.
No, I don’t need to be vengeful. I will admit that I had fleeting thoughts of taking some of his ashes and flushing them down the toilet after a Taco Bell feast. But I won’t. I’m above that and I feel good that I’m above that. I will not wallow in the depths of the literal sewer the way Giulio did. Even though I have some of his bad traits, I will NOT be like him, spreading evil, pain and disgruntlement.
And when we’re in Italy, I will paste a smile on my face again as we spread his ashes on the family farm where he was raised. It will be important for my uncle who grieved massively when Giulio died and I won’t deny him that grief. But I’ll be thinking about my favorite cappuccino bar while we’re scattering.
And I don’t feel guilty. I have no reason. I took care of Giulio when I didn’t have to. I don’t know what he thought of me when he went into eternity and I don’t care. My head is held high. He didn’t break me. If anything, I’m a better man. Stronger. I’m everything he could never be.
If he only could have recognized that.