Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Here is a 4 generation picture of the Barthelmes'. My great grandpa (I don't remember him at all), my grandpa (he passed away two weeks after I turned 21) and my dad (he passed away when I was pregnant with Hannah), oh, and me. I've always liked this picture - not sure why, but I have.
Yesterday was 11 years since my dad passed away. I wasn't sad yesterday, per say, it was just weird. Opportunity lost. By that I mean I will never have the chance to talk to him and ask why??? Why did he chose not to be a real part of my life? Why did he feel alcohol was more important than a family? Why did he only feel he could come around when he had money?? Why didn't he ever acknowledge Emily when he was alive and could? So many whys?
Maybe I should go back to the beginning, most of you know nothing of my Dad or our relationship. I was born to a poor black family - oops - wrong story. Wow, where do I start?? I was the first child of Denny & Sue. I was born in Erie,Pennsylvania and we moved to San Diego,California when I was in 1st grade for a better, warmer life, I believe. My sister Julie was born the year before the BIG move West. After we got there and were settled, Stacy was born. I don't really remember much of their marriage and I definitely don't remember any warmth or love being shared. The memories I do remember I guess I probably shouldn't share. My parents finally divorced, as I remember it, I was like 8 or 9. My sisters were babies. I remember crying when he left and I remember the girls too but I don't think they totally understood why. I remember many missed dates - where my dad was supposed to pick us up for an afternoon or one time he was taking me to the Del Mar fair - I remember sitting by that window all night waiting for him to come and him not showing up or calling. He did remarry for a short while to a wonderful woman - he always remembered to pick us up there and we were more like a family than we had ever known. It was nice. My mom and sisters and I moved back to PA when I was going in to 6th grade, that was hard cause things were going pretty well and leaving my dad and his new life was hard. They came to visit us once after the move but then they too got divorced. My dad had a drinking problem and always chose to let alcohol rule his life. It was pretty sad. Every now and then he would call - sometimes he would call to see what we wanted for Christmas or our birthdays. Sometimes the holidays would pass without hearing from him. I stayed close to my dad's parents and that was kind of hard because you couldn't really talk to them about my dad, I know they knew he had failed us but we never really discussed it. When I turned 16, my dad bought me a ticket to come out and see him for a few weeks. It was fun but weird. He had a new girlfriend and we were pretty much forced to hang out but I did get to spend sometime with my Dad one on one, something my sisters never had the chance to do. For my graduation my dad flew home. Two years later I moved to Santa Barbara, CA and he drove up twice to see me in the 9 months I was there. As I got older we would still talk every now and then, not very often though. When my grandpa was dying my dad came home, I was then back in Erie and we did spend a lot of time together. We had dinners or would at least meet up at the hospital - it really was the most of a relationship we have ever had. He was there for over a month. One BIG thing happened that trip though. I told my dad "NO". Something I had never done. Growing up when ever he called,I jumped. I was always took what ever I got from him and never questioned it. He was in town that year for my 21st birthday. The day before my BIG day he said "we'll go out to dinner tomorrow night for your birthday". I looked at him and said "NO". He looked at me very confused. I explained to him that my friends and I had been planning this day for months and just cause he was in town didn't mean I was going to change my plans. That was hard and I know he was hurt, but enough was enough. I invited him to meet up with us, we were at a bar, how could he say NO?? He actually did buy my first, legal drink. My grandfather died in early June - my dad and I had plans to meet at the hospital that morning. My grandma, aunt and cousins were going to my cousins 8th grade graduation and would meet up with us later. I was home getting ready when my doorbell rang. It was my dad, my grandpa had just passed, my dad was there. I was the first person he came too, I truly thought this was a breakthrough - how could our relationship go back to every now and then. My dad was heartbroken, I think there was unspoken words between the two of them, and here he was with me. Telling me, making me a part of an important piece of his life. After the funeral and all, my Dad left. I never saw him again. That was June 1992. I believe we spoke every now and then. I moved to FL and then MT. I do remember speaking to him once while I lived in MT - he was sick for awhile in the hospital, I can't remember why, but he recovered. We spoke after that (1995) - I believe I was pregnant with Emily - my nephew Samuel was already born and he asked about him, but really, he wasn't a father at all, how could he be a grandfather? That was the last time. In April of 1998 I got a call telling me my dad had died the day before. He died in Mexico - which is kind of funny. He was very racist and hated mexican food. The family says of a heart attack but I have his actual death certificate and it is in Spanish but it says something about alcohol intoxication. At least he died doing something he loved. He is buried in San Diego in the military graveyard. I hope one day to get down there and see it.
It's weird when my kids ask about my dad. There isn't a lot to say to them, it's sad how he really won't live on in memories. But you have to be around to make a memory, right? I always tell Dan what a wonderful Daddy he is and the kids how LUCKY, LUCKY they are. Dan is a wonderful father and I can never, ever see him turning his back on Emily, Hannah & Benjamin. I can cry in an instant, actually, I am right now, thinking of the girls weddings and their Daddy walking them down the aisle. My kids truly are blessed, sometimes I am jealous, but my opportunity is lost.