Status: Up to date

Confessions From the Past

The Chapter About Your Dad

Tonight he got engaged to The Short One. Remember how we used to make names for them all after the first one went down hill? Good riddance to her, at least. There was The Terrible One, The Too Young and Crazy One, The Married One, and then The Short One. I think he always knew he could never replace Mom after the divorce. He always just told me he was looking for a companion. “I don’t ever want to get married again. I just want someone to hang out with.” At least we like this one.

Right now, at this point in time, it’s been about a year since he’s been diagnosed for the problems with his legs. I can’t remember the name off the top of my head. As you know though, it’s where his muscles basically disintegrate until there’s nothing left but skin and bone.

Fucking fantastic.

The first time he told me, I thought I was losing my mind. I know you, Future Me, obviously already know this story but I guess I just kind of need someone to talk to right now. So here it is again.

As I was saying, he didn’t even want me to find out. I’d gone to his house during the day expecting him to be home in a few hours but there he was, just as shocked to see me as I was to see him. When I asked why he was home, he beat around the bush for a while trying to change the subject before telling me he’d taken off work to go to the doctor but “It was no big deal though.” When I asked him why for the third time, he sighed and closed his eyes. I knew then that it wasn’t just a check up.

He’d been falling down the stairs a lot, he’d said. Standing all day at work was hell on his knees. His legs ached. And then he showed me them. To this day (and whatever day you’re in, I’m sure), I’ve never seen anything like it. They looked like two actual twigs attached at his torso in place of legs. I didn’t even know how he could possibly be holding the weight of even his small body with them. I thought back to the home videos we’d watched together with my grandma a few months back. There was clip of Dad in his boxers laying on the ground with me as tiny baby making me laugh. His legs must’ve been a least three times thicker then even though his body didn’t look to be a pound heavier.

It took some time and a lot of terrible ‘it could be this’s but the doctors finally discovered that it’s a very rare disease where the muscles in his limbs will all but disappear in a matter of years. Soon, he’ll need a walker. Which is probably the most painfully ironic part of all this; that HE is a walker. He walks every morning around the big park just outside of town. He’s done it for years. He listens to podcasts, audio books, and piano music on his iPhone. He takes pictures of the animals he sees on the trails and sends them to me. Every season, every morning, there he is.

Life is so fucked up sometimes.

When I asked him about marrying The Short One, he said “This may sound terrible, and I don’t mean it like that, but I just know I’m not going to find anyone better. I’m not getting any younger and I’M not getting any better…” The way he looked down at his legs when he said it broke my heart. I told him he should get married because he was in love, not because he was sick. Not because the medical bills were piling up. Not because ‘he wouldn’t find anyone better.’ But alas, here he is. Engaged.

And the thing is, I don’t have a problem with it or anything. The Short One is great. She’s able to hang out with our family and not be awkward. For the most part, she even fits in. She watches movies with me and Cindy and gossips with us about our celebrity crushes and Orange Is The New Black. She cares about Dad so much.

It was when he was with The Terrible One that life was chaotic. He came so close to selling the house and moving in with her. Thank God he didn’t. There were heaps and heaps of issues. Her daughter, who he’d helped raise since she was born, was what kept him around, I think. But I know that deep down he knew it wasn’t right. He was just taking the steps that he felt like he should at that point in their five-year relationship; get married. Move in.

But it wasn’t until we were sitting the living room one day talking about make up that I think things started to become really clear for him. (Stick with me, I’m sure you’ve forgotten this story.) We were watching a movie or something and talking about how much make up one of the main actresses had on. He said, “See, that’s why I liked your mom. She looked beautiful with and without make up.” Cindy and I just rolled our eyes. He’d told us this numerous times. Then he started talking about something The Terrible One had made for dinner the previous night, or something like that, but he didn’t use her name. He used Mom’s. A few times, in fact, before he caught himself. It looked like a switch had just flipped in his brain. “You know what I meant,” he said wagging his hand like it was no big deal.

The thing was, he’d been doing that for the last five years.

I know that no one will ever be my mom for my dad. She broke his heart 14 years ago and it’s never been the same ever since. I think he’s been searching for someone to fill the hole in him since she filed for the divorce. As much as a person can. I think he feels like he’s come as close to that as he’ll ever get. And that makes me happy and sad at the same time because I love my dad. He’s one of the greatest people ever. He’s my best friend. He’s my escape from life a lot the time. He’s my workout buddy. He’s everything. And he’s already going to have to settle for getting fucking wheeled around his park in a God damned wheelchair, why should he have to settle on loving someone too? Why can’t he just be with the person he really wants to be with?

And why can’t I?