Monday, November 12, 2018

Starting the story

  I sit quietly in a room that seems to close in further as the minutes tick by waiting for my father to die. And so do they. Though their anticipation is more glib than my own, even if I hadn't yet pieced it all together. They had something to gain from the loss. I was unaware and had never had a reason to suspect her or her children's intentions with my father. But, oh how I should have. There is no good step mom, not in my world.
  This last one had played quite the role; a dingy divorcee who was harmless save for a gambling habit that he too suffered. A woman who seemed to like his kids and grandkids and didn't mind showing up for birthday parties or the like, even if those kids and grandkids didn't really rank all that high. A woman who doted on him and never talked back and simply loved everyone except for the most recent wife, the one just before her, whom she was determined to prove she was nothing like. Though in the end, the only difference is one had the nerve to be who she was while he was alive.
  We'd all watched him decline for less than a week and I knew he'd never come home. I prayed for just one more Christmas, one more birthday party for him to come to, one more phone call, but somehow I knew those particular prayers wouldn't be granted. I was hurting. He had never been what I needed in a father, but we had made the best amends we could and I loved him no less.
    So I sat and waited, thinking of the few short years that I'd had him to myself, the years before the stepmothers. There was no doubt I was loved in those days. But my concentration wouldn't keep. The recent memory of the shrill, intrusive voice of my stepsister of a mere two years, "I've called a lawyer, a friend of mine....", clouded my memories and filled me with anger. In my naïveté, I wouldn't have guessed anyone, anywhere on earth, would still think it's ok to have a dying man sign a will. "To make sure we get everything." Then again, I'd never been impressed by her and he had warned me on occasion: "That one pushes when she shouldn't push." But THIS? The quintessential low life act of a dying person's family: have them sign a deathbed will. Yet here we were with a stepfamily of only two years having a friend/attorney draft a will for a dying man he had never met nor spoken to, particularly about his last wishes. "It's my job to protect my mom."
   In some way I'm grateful. Because of two women my children will never suffer a stepmother.