Hold the Sympathy

A Candid Letter to Those Who Never Knew (and Those Who Maybe Did):

Apparently our Mom’s husband has died, as I awoke this morning to many messages of sympathy.  Please stop.  If you’d like to express sympathy, express it to my eldest nephew, with whom he was the closest.  My nephew never saw the man my sister and I grew up with; he saw a gentle and loving Grandfather.  My heart hurts for him as he endures the loss of my Mom (his Meme) and his Grandfather within 10 months of one another.  No 20 year old should have to go through this. They were like parents to him, and for him I feel sympathy.

We watched this man lie to, manipulate, use, steal from, and emotionally abuse our Mom for 35 years.  Yet she stayed.  Ten times they broke up and he ran back home to HIS Mom. Ten times he played on our Mom’s heart strings and promised to be a different person.  Ten times she took him back.  She wanted to leave him in later years, but was riddled with guilt over leaving a sickly man – so she stayed.  She always felt he was her cross to bear for divorcing our father – no matter how many times we told her otherwise.  When Mom passed, I took care of closing out all of her accounts and got the life insurance filed for him (because Mom handled EVERYTHING and he was clueless), only to be kicked off the property and refused ANY of Mom’s belongings.  The recipes, the cookbooks, our favorite baking dish, childhood pictures, Mom’s sewing box, ridiculous clay sculptures we’d made her in art class.  NOTHING.  Mom’s various belongings have been distributed to OTHER family and friends. Her clothes we wanted to have quilted?  Given to his cross-dressing friend. While this type of behavior was to be expected from him, it certainly hasn’t made processing Mom’s death any easier.

Instead of loving and respecting her for the amazing Mom she was, he was jealous and vindictive.  Angry at the drop of a hat over any bit of attention she gave to us.  Time after time he drove wedges between us.  He was a part of our lives for 35 years, but he didn’t raise us; he barely fucking tolerated us.  He stole our babysitting money, beat our favorite pets, and always found ways to get rid of things we loved the most.  A million times our poor Mom cried, “I’m not the referee!” He screamed and shook his fists in our faces everytime we weren’t working hard enough or fast enough.  All the while his lazy, obstinate ass couldn’t hold a job long enough to help Mom pay the bills.

I do owe him thanks.  I thank him for not actually killing my sister the night he held a pitchfork to her 10-year-old throat in a fit of rage.  I thank him for driving past me the day I was broke down in 20 below weather – it taught me to fend for myself.  I thank him for getting angry every time I was sick and screaming how I was faking childhood asthma.  I thank him for shaking his head in disgust and the look of disdain he gave me when I was injured by a horse and he just kept mowing the lawn as I crawled to the house.  I thank him for not actually hurting my sister or me the night he chased us around the kitchen table with a knife because we weren’t washing dishes fast enough – that was the last night I would spend living under my Mom’s roof. Mostly, I thank him for teaching me the kind of stepfather I will NEVER give my kids.  Ironically, he contributed to me being the hard working, empathetic person I am today, as I grew up determined to be everything he wasn’t. For that, I should also thank him.

For those of you saying, “He died of a broken heart…”  He didn’t have one – he died of KARMA.  He died of a perpetual inability to take care of himself without HIS mother or OURS waiting on him hand and foot. I don’t believe he’s in the same place as our Mom right now; but if, by the grace of God he is, I can only imagine she’s smacking her forehead and wondering why she didn’t get a longer break.

Please do not offer sympathy.  Not for the childhoods we had or the life that’s been lost.  Not to me.  Not to my sister.

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