Back in 2000, when my grandmother passed away, my brother and father had a very nasty falling out at her funeral. My father invited my neice, my brother’s eldest child, and her mother, his first wife to the funeral. His reasoning was that it was her great-grandmother, and she had a right to be there, and if my brother would not go get her, her mother had to bring her. He also said that, just because he and her mother had gotten divorced, it did not mean that we considered her mother any less a part of the family. He felt that she knew my grandmother, and if she wanted to be there, she had a right to be.
That did not go over too well with my brother. He said that he and his new wife could not grieve our grandmother’s passing properly with her there, and that he did not appreciate the fact that dad invited her. He and my father yelled and screamed at each other, and I suddenly realized that this was exactly what would have occurred if my mom had come to the funeral.
For days, other family members had been asking why my mom did not come to the funeral home. They said they missed her, and she was still a part of the family. They told me to let her know that she was welcome any time, and that they wanted her to be there. I kept telling saying, “You know that daddy would have a fit if mama came here.” And they assured me that he could, “Just get over it.” But even after 20 years, I knew that he would still cause a scene if she were to visit. I also knew that she would never go because she did not wish for him to act an a** in front of my brother and myself and cause us more stress.
Every cruel word he had ever said about my mother was never more vivid to me than it was on that day. I saw my father in my brother, and it hurt. It was at that very moment that I finally understood everything that my mother had endured and realized how hateful my father really was. I was enraged that he passed this anger and rage on to his own son, and that it had the potential to destroy another child.
Fortunately, my oldest niece’s mother left before it was too late to spare her daughter the pain of growing up in a home with so much rage. My niece is now a well-adjusted, normal teenager who understands that she is loved. She also understands that, though she deeply desires to have her father’s love, it is not required for her to feel whole.
It makes me so angry to know that this is the legacy my father has left for us. And although I have chosen to reject it – it is still being passed on.