It is easy for me to forget sometimes, in the hustle of everyday life with four kids and four dogs, that building a bigger family, a newer family will inevitably involve stories of the older family.
The family that I came from.
The family that I am estranged from.
Estranged, is a word that I am used to seeing in descriptions of movies of the week in the tv guide or on the back of the book blurbs of the paperbacks that you can buy at the grocery store.
Not something that would seem to apply to ordinary me.
My Dad could not cope with my existance very well.
My Mom has said to me that she thinks he was very jealous at the amount of her attention that I took up.
I don't know about that.
I can say though, that I figured out very early that I was a wrong thing, as far as he was concerned and nothing I did seemed to change that.
As an adult I had to force myself to learn not to flinch and cry when my husband would take off his belt, that dishes could be washed in water that didn't burn my hands, that it really was okay and rational for me to not like certain foods, that it wasn't okay to stay with a boyfriend who punched me.
There are other little things that I struggle with on a daily basis.
Yelling at my kids.
No, I mean really yelling at my kids.
I can be so loud, even when I don't mean to be, I project incredibly well.
Part of me also knows that when I do it, I am being overwhelming.
Anyway, I made a choice, over the course of being a mother, slowly and painfully, that I would have very little to do with my father.
I have tried from time to time, but the games he plays are just too much for me to deal with.
An aunt "finds" me through the internet, like I am "long lost" to tell me how sad they all were that I wasn't able to make it to the big family reunion, that Dad never invited me to.
My brother tells me how devastated my father was at that Christmas when my family and I just didn't show up, of course we were never asked.
At this moment, I have an email from another aunt, sitting in my inbox, telling me how good it is of me to come to my uncle's funeral on Friday. My father told her I was coming.
I can't go. It is just not feasible, and I have told no one that I could for sure - I was hoping to be able to fly out and then drive to it with my brother but those plans changed (from his end) and it just isn't feasible for me to go.
So now, instead of just sending deeply felt condolences, I also have to send an awkward apology for not being able to attend.
I have also been sent spiraling down a rather dark hole into my past and I am really looking forward to climbing out. I hope I can.
My uncle was important to me, when I was a kid.
Not much older than be really, maybe 11 years.
He was fun and cool and nice. Happy to see me, always had a joke, willing to take me to the rural dump on treasure hunts, showing me the northern lights. The man could smile and his eyes twinkled.
He had troubles as an adult. Emotional and mental. He lived far away from me and I realized that he felt awkward around the grown up me.
But he sang me songs that his father had taught him and couldn't sing to me, the first grandchild because he had died.
And he loved a little girl who needed it.
And that little girl loved him right back.