If These Walls Could Talk, I Would Try To Ignore Them
When my dad was a teenager, he came home one day to find his father hanging from his neck. His father, my grandfather, killed himself. I never knew my grandfather.
How do I know this happened?
I grew up in a house with a basement, a middle floor and an upstairs.
When my parents would argue – which was quite often – they sometimes made their way downstairs to vent to each other. I’m guessing they didn’t want to do it too much in front of my brother and I. But that did happen sometimes.
Whatever, stuff like that happens all the time all around the planet. It’s not like there was any physical abuse, which is ten times worse than some yelling.
A Lingering Memory
One day while I was playing with toys (6inch GI Joes of course) in the upstairs hallway, I could here some loud voices coming from the basement. Although I couldn’t make out what they were saying.
As the voices got louder I figured out what was going on. Mom and Dad were fighting. Here we go again, I’m sure I thought.
I don’t know about any of you, but, when my brother and I were younger we used to get worried about whether our parents were fighting about us or about some other thing. It was almost always about some other things that had nothing to do with either my brother or I.
But, just to make sure, we had a way of finding out without being in the room or getting caught up in the yelling matches.
The upstairs bathroom was equipped with a laundry chute that opened up underneath the sink. It made its way through the middle floor of the house down to the laundry room in the basement.
Sometimes my brother and I would go into the bathroom, open up the laundry chute door and listen to them arguing.
On this particular day, the laundry room door was open. Lucky me. I could hear everything.
“(Dad’s Name) just because your dad killed himself around Christmas time doesn’t mean you can act like this around this time each year!”
It wasn’t so much that these words came from my mothers mouth. For the purpose of this post forget for a minute what you know about hypergamy, solipsism the FI and all that fun stuff. This isn’t about her. I love my mom. She is a woman.
What I remember first thinking was, “How did I not know about this?” and “How the fuck would you handle that?”
The Selfish Gene
After years of on-again off-again pondering of this moment, I’m really just left with some thoughts and some questions to ask myself, and maybe my dad.
“Who am I to think that I deserve to know this information?”
That is my father’s private memory. A situation from his life that he had to deal with. Not mine.
“How did he deal with this?”
I’ve often tried to put myself in that situation – opening a door to a room to find my father’s dead hanging body.
I almost immediately feel fear, guilt, shame and it’s as if I’ve lost everything.
“Did him (and his 3 brothers and 2 sisters, my dad being the oldest) see a psychiatrist when they were young? If so until when?”
He must of had some psychiatry work done on him in his youth, right? Although I can only speculate.
My father was a youth counselor for a lot of his career. He’s good at dealing with troubled youth. Could this have been a catalyst for him becoming a counselor?
“Goddamnit, I was/am such a spoiled little prick. My dad didn’t/doesn’t deserve most of the verbal barrage from my youth/now.”
As I’ve mentioned before: It’s long past the time for me to be angry at my father.
My old man is exactly that – an old man. He’s 70 years old. He had a heart attack about 4 or 5 years ago.
I was standing outside on the balcony of my downtown sublet apartment when I got the phone call.
“Dad had a heart attack.” My older brother said.
My chest sunk. Tears started to form. “Is my dad going to die?”
He pulled through. He was air lifted by helicopter to a hospital for coronary specialists. That was the closest I’ve come to knowing what it’s like what my dad went through. Still not even close.
My father has a hell of a sense of humour. I get mine from him. He’s told me some great stories about funny stuff he did in his youth.
But when it comes to his family, he doesn’t talk much about his past. Hell, I didn’t even know one of his sisters existed until 3 years ago.
I respect that of him. Like I said, it’s his past, his history and his private memories and they all belong to him.
I want to ask him so badly – What was it like losing your father the way you did?
All that is left for me to do is to just ask him. I’m at an age where I think I’m comfortable enough to ask him. We’ll see.
Thank you for reading. It means a lot to me that you did.
Now, I put it to you – Do you have lingering questions and things to ask your parents, but were too afraid to?