Wow, what a weekend.
On Father’s Day, I phoned my dad. Apparently he’s been pretty lonely since my mum died, and I feel bad for him. He doesn’t have many friends, and simply having 3 offspring (too old to be called ‘children’) living with him isn’t quite the same.
He seemed really ecstatic when I suggested we meet at a rugby game on Saturday afternoon, have a couple of drinks, and then head back to Hometown for the rest of the day. I’d be going out in the evening to see a friend, but then Sunday morning we could spend time together too.
On Friday, I got an email from my brother, noting that the rugby game was off and I should head straight to their house instead.
I arrived Saturday at 2:30pm, and we chatted for an hour. At one point, I asked if they’d started setting up mum’s headstone. I had asked that they include me, I wanted to be there when they set it up. “It’s already done,” I was told. “Here’s a photograph.” I was pretty annoyed at my request being ignored or forgotten. Then, at 3:30, my dad got up, put on his shoes and told me he was going to church. That was it, he left.
My brother was sleeping in his basement bedroom, and my sisters were in their rooms listening to music and drawing. I was alone in their living room, watching tv and waiting for my dad to come back. At 7pm, I gave up. I went downstairs to give my brother the message: “I’m pretty pissed off with what Dad did. I rented a car, and gave up my whole weekend, and he only stayed here for an hour. I’m going to ‘Friend’s house, and I’m not coming back tonight. I’ll stay on her couch – there’s no point me driving back here. He’ll just be going to church in the morning again, and I’m wasting more of my time.”
My brother agreed with me, and we said our goodbyes.
On Sunday morning, I did drive back to Hometown. I went to the cemetery to see my mum’s gravesite. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but it was important nonetheless. I sat in front of the stone and talked to it as if it were her. I told her that I had my own family to attend to, and that HER family didn’t seem to value the time enough to take it away from Wife. She’d have understood, my father has always been somewhat selfish. I stood up, walked back to my car, and started the ignition. I turned it off, walked back to the headstone, and pressed my palm into the top of it. The black stone was warm from the sun, and there was something reassuring about the touch. Then I returned to the car and hit the road.
I had a great time that evening with my friend, but am furious with my father. I spent $150 renting a car. I gave up sailing on Friday night to spend it with Wife, as I wouldn’t see her all weekend. I spent probably $50 on food, as I had to buy 3 meals (they don’t keep food at home). I also gave up two days where I could have caught up on my studying, which I’ve been putting off for too long and it’s getting close to crunch-time. All that for an hour with my father. Friend could and would have come to see me in Toronto instead, so I really don’t count it that much in the equation…
I won’t be going back there for a while. If home is where the heart is, then it is truly in Toronto with Wife.The older I get, the more I see that my father's faults are still going strong. I remember why I couldn't live with him. I just wish I would remember it every time I feel guilty for not being as devoted to my family as my friends are to theirs.