Friday, January 13, 2006

The Aftermath

Sunday, I slept in. It was 9:00 before I got up. I vaguely remembered Lisa waking me up in the recliner to go to bed. My mouth felt like the entire US Army had marched through it with dirty socks on. I was lethargic, and when I looked in the mirror in the bathroom, I couldn’t stomach the hag that was staring back at me. I draped a towel over the mirror.

It was a quiet day. I sat and knitted, did a load of laundry, knitted some more while watching the two wildcard games that were on. I napped, at one point, during the first game. Lisa and I had anxiously awaited the beginning of a new season of The L Word that was to start Sunday night at 10:00. I was a major turd for the whole day, not feeling the least bit guilty for having done so. Just after The L Word ended at 10:50, my cell phone rang. I picked it up and looked at the caller ID display. It said “Dad,” but I wondered if it was my father, or if it was Le calling from her cell phone or her house phone (I’d not yet differentiated between the two in my cell phone’s phone book). So, I answered it. I heard my father’s voice and I just hung it right back up. I just couldn’t take it. A few seconds later, it rang again, and I let it go to voice mail. The message sounded ominous – “Pat, this is Dad. Irregardless of what you may think, or think of me. The reason I called is just to tell you, no matter what happens, I love you. Thank you, Pat.”

I looked at Lisa, who also had one eyebrow raised. I commented “Sounds like a suicide good-bye.” She agreed. But, in the end, I couldn’t call him back, and couldn’t dredge up the sincerity for any sympathy for him. We went to bed.

Monday, I tried to stay focused on things at work, but had a difficult time with it. I kept hearing my father’s message the night before, and I kept thinking about all the events of recent days. Somehow I got through the day and, when I got home, I saw that I had a message on the answering machine. It was from Steve B., an old friend of my father’s, asking me to call him back because he needed to talk to me. Steve and my father worked together repossessing cars. My father would locate the vehicles and, if they were able to be driven, drive them away to a lot. If not, Steve would hook it up to his tow truck and tow it away. It’s required to report repossessions to law enforcement, so Steve and my father, over the years, had gotten to know many law enforcement officers, particularly the state police. A friend of Steve B.’s, a state trooper, had called him Monday morning and told him that the state police had responded to a call at a Best Western motel in a town not far from where my father lives. It was for a suicide attempt. It was my father. All Steve knew was that my father was alive and had been taken to a hospital in Corning. His friend had told him more than he should have, and had no further details.

That was four days ago. And that’s all we know still, other than the fact that he’s still in that hospital, under psychiatric care/suicide watch.

As the days have gone by, I’ve gone from being angry to feeling sorry for my father. As my Aunt Wanda keeps saying, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” That’s sort of where I am, except I still can’t bring myself to want anything less for him than he deserves for what he did to that little girl. I feel badly enough that his life has taken him to a place where he no longer has any hope, but not badly enough to even try to advocate for him where he is.

Vanessa is going to be okay. Better than okay. Since she’s gotten this burden off her back, she has been remarkably well. Her mother is getting counseling for her, but I think that Le will be more scarred from this than Vanessa will. When she’s 40 years old, Vanessa will look back on this as something that happened to her and nothing more. Child Protective Services asked Le to take Vanessa to the hospital today for an exam. Le has decided that she will not only do that, but take Vanessa to her family physician and have both of them test for the HIV virus. I think it’s a good idea, even if it’s just to ease her mind about herself and her child.

My father has a preliminary court date on January 25 (Wanda’s birthday). It remains to be seen whether he is able to go or not.

In the meantime, we’re going to establish a fund for Le and Vanessa, to help them with their legal expenses in obtaining permanent residency in this country. She would have gotten her green card next month, after having lived with my father for 2 years but this whole incident complicates things a little bit more. We’re going to do can/bottle drives here (there’s a 5 cent return on all cans and bottles), and we’ll pitch in whatever money we can from each member of the family. If you’re interested in helping out, send me an email for information.

And there it is. The story, in all it’s ugliness. Hopefully now we can get back to living our lives with less drama.

And we've already gotten a good start on doing just that. Yesterday my younger daughter, Linda, who lives in Colorado called to tell me that, after trying for a year, she's pregnant again. As luck would have it, I just finished a knitting project Wednesday night and am now free to start a new one. I just have to find a pattern for a baby blanket that I like.


Melissa said...

I feel rather sheepish making a comment on such a deeply painful post since this is my first comment on your blog, but I'm so very sorry about all of this. I'm sorry for Vanessa, for Le, for you. I don't know that I would be able to exhibit such grace in such an utterly dark time. You've written about it honestly and articulately and I hope that getting it all onto the page will somehow help you heal.

Pat said...

Thanks, Melissa. Writing about it has been cathartic, for sure. It's helped me to work through my feelings, or at least identify them. Dealing with them is yet another issue. Thanks again.