Sunday, January 28, 2018

Criticism, Critical Care, Critique

Looking back the words still sting.

Emails filled with vicious accusations of incompetence.

False accusations, wild misstatements. 

How could someone who lived in the same house as two other children at the same time believe their life was so completely different especially when that life parallelled a brother's almost completely?

At the time I was barely coping. With two family members, husband and mother, both facing their life challenges, differently but similarly. 

He losing his physical abilities and she losing her mental abilities while going through continuing physical challenges and losses as well.

Where was the "coming alongside"? One visit during the 100 days almost constantly in Critical Intensive Care for his father?

I understand. He was working. He didn't have the advantage his brother had of travelling for business and being able to "swing through" with quite a bit of planning.

Phone calls?  They were to question, to accuse, to find fault and to let me know no matter what I did it was never enough, never the right way and always, always, in some way negatively affected him and his life.

That last phone call he had with his father. I walked in as it had ended. I watched my husband begin to sob and shake. He went from this to uncontrollable shaking and needing a Nurse to find blankets and administer meds.

He cried after ending the conversation when I walked in. I can't remember seeing my husband cry. I'm sure he did when his father passed as they were close and for his mother but not in this way. He seemed to be torn inside out.

My husband knew this son had ripped me apart on the phone and in emails. Even when I didn't share what was said, when he had bad days or when I thought it wasn't good to "update" him on all the verbal attacks the son had made on me and in so doing on him. We were abusers this son said. 

Today I know it could have been different. We'd called this son after talking with the other and finding he could not help but his words were gentle, kind and wishing he could. We were going through every penny we had. Poor planning the oldest son said. We should have and could have done better all the years before, we were told. 

Didn't matter through it all we ensured he, his brother and his sister and for a while a child we took in, husband's brother's son's child, was provided with food, clothing and education and more.

Didn't matter we survived at least once each decade odds that put others in far worse circumstances:  his birth and necessity of medical care far beyond the insurance we had; his brother's birth and complications from a milk allergy; his sister's birth and taking in an extra person while helping with two college tuitions and so many additional costs; a fire and loss of seven years of what we'd accumulated; loss of a job and months trying to find another; economic losses from moving to another location in times when company's didn't cover the cost.

A long story. A life story. Always focused on family. Always focused on the son and the others but him first as the oldest. He set the way, we did not want to play favorites. 

It's interesting now. He's shut us out. The two of us who remain of three of his immediate family. It's not the first time. He's played this "joker" of a card at least twice before or is it three times -- going through as much as we have I've lost count.

I can't be around his children. I'm the problem. His sister chooses not to be around him. She's not a child. She's an adult who's endured many of his abuses and wants no more.

I understand. This son once asked me since I'd said long ago how when he was born he "looked like" his Grandfather, my father, "how" he resembled his Grandfather now. 

At birth this first born was bald and blue eyed -- just like my father. And I'd told him that several years ago. It's typical after birth to compare physical attributes to one or another family member and he was my "first" so that physical comparison was expected. Plus, my father passed.

Cancer of the lung, too many years of smoking and too much drinking, when I was in my first year of college. Even with the life we had together and what we went through apart, I still loved him and watching my mother cry after years of being divorced, when she was told of his death, I knew she did, too.

So many times I told him he wasn't like his Grandfather, my father, as my Dad was an abuser. An alcoholic. He couldn't stop. Once in a great while he'd try but he always returned.

"Don't reach in that trash can, little darlin" he'd say to me. "Dad's thrown away a razor blade and I don't want you to get cut."  

Now, I didn't usually reach into trash cans around the house but I knew, even at less than nine years old this meant he'd thrown away another empty bottle of Hill & Hill, his whiskey of choice, cheap but able to give him the "escape" he needed.

No, my son, even when you went through your phase of underage drinking and the other questionable actions you took, I never compared you to him, I never believed you were "like him".

You see, as I've told you, my first born and my oldest son, I did what I did for you because I'd been told my father probably did what he did because he had no advantages in life. 

Dad was intelligent, I was told by members of his family, but he had to work in the Barber Shop, take money home to the family, never able to go regularly to school and never able to feed his love of learning.

I vowed no child of mine would ever have to go through not having the opportunity and the best I could provide. 

I lived my own life loving to learn and making sure, in a time when people my age were just starting to go to college in higher numbers, I was the first female and the second person in my mother and my father's family to go to college and I finished and I continue to learn.

I'm sorry for you, my son, as I've told you .... what is it now, going on five years...since you cut me off, for the third time, from any contact with "your family" and that includes your children.

You've had another child in that time. Believe he turns three this year or it could be four. 

Interesting how life moves forward. You've told me how poor my choices were and how they created problems.

I noticed your wife wrote on the internet how she was surprised by this "late in life" addition. It had been what, six years, since your fourth was born?

I'd heard differently. I'd heard there was a request for a vasectomy and it didn't happen. That's a personal choice. Like so many we all make in life. And, like many choices, it can have unexpected or difficult challenges added.

You know, my son, I'm reminded how your father and I communicated. How we cared about one another and how he had once considered taking that action after your sister was born. I told him I'd be there with him if he did. And I would have. He didn't. We had your sister late in life; a true blessing as were our sons, you included.

Life is choices. Some good. Some may not appear so good. 

What I value the most is the love we had and the support we gave one another and how as I approach, alone, this year of celebrating an amazing anniversary I wish was alongside him maybe taking a trip together somewhere or gathering the family together as we did when we hit that first milestone while you were in college.

But I'd do things differently. I've learned, you see, my son. I opened my heart and arms to the woman who became your wife and who, in my opinion, has split our family apart along with your willingness to let it happen.

I can bear this time. I've been bearing many "times" in life since I was very young. I don't like it; I wish it wasn't so and I'm concerned that what the two of you have done this time will have repercussions you cannot begin to imagine the longer you refuse to reconcile and remedy other actions you've taken to tear asunder what a power higher than you joined together.

I've gone through several years since my husband's passing and Mom's. Years when your coming alongside would have made the journey easier even in the most difficult of times.

You walk your path. I walk mine. As did your father with you.

Why? What cannot be mended and what cannot be fixed if LOVE is truly within us?

Criticism, critical care, critique. States of mind and states of living. For how long is in your hands, my son.