My dad died on August 29, 1993. Now 20 years ago. Many people experience profound changes in their attitudes when their last parent dies and I was no exception.
I was living in a terrifying marriage. My dad’s death made me realize I didn’t have to remain there. First of all, I would not have to tell my Dad that I was divorcing again, that was a big factor! Secondly, I could see that the woman he married after my mother died was a disaster for him from the beginning and he would not admit it. Therefore, the last 21 years of his life were miserable. He started drinking again just a few years after marrying her and never could quit again. But why would a sober man marry a woman who drank like a fish morning, noon, and night in the first place? Who knows. I only knew that I didn’t want to waste my life and spend 20 + years in a horrible marriage.
A week after my dad’s death, I walked out the door of the apartment I shared with my husband. He would not leave, so I did. He had disabled my car so that I could not drive away from him, so I grabbed my backpack and left on foot. I left behind all of my belongings, including my beloved grandfather’s desk, my mother’s table, and every other thing that I loved. I had realized my life was worth more than that stuff. – and I did get those things back, but it took a couple of months. I had been sober for 9 years, so I was well-connected in the AA social structure. I had many offers of places to stay.
I was working at a large hospital, in my first job in medical records – for $5.50 per hour. In case you are wondering, that wasn’t a living wage in 1993 either. Somehow I held on to that job, even when I was essentially homeless and had no car. I was staying with a friend who lived about as far as you can live from that hospital and still be in the Denver metro area. It took a LOT of buses to get to work.
After a few weeks with her, another friend offered her couch, and I went to live with her. I was also able to buy an old hail-damaged red Ford Tempo, which I thought was my salvation. Until one dark night when I stepped off the sidewalk in front of my friend’s house, into a pot hole, I fell and broke my left foot. My clutch foot. No driving for me!
Before I broke my foot, I had rented a 3 story walk-up apartment, but hadn’t moved in yet. On moving day, I called my son who was a senior in high school, he called his friends, and I had a teenage move-a-thon. For the first time in my life, I sat and supervised. They did all that work! Once I got in my beautiful, peaceful, lovely, joyous apartment, I holed up in there for a week or so. I could not navigate those stairs on crutches! My son, again, brought me groceries, and got me meals.
I finally had to go back to work. So grateful they kept me on while I was gone. I was a temp! Any reasonable person would have called the agency for another temp. But they waited for me to come back. They loved me, thank God.
My children were living with their dad, but they were now right down the road from me. They could come to MY house after school if they wanted, and they did – frequently. So different from being married to a man who was awful to them and they hated. My troubled daughter moved in with me. It was one of my favorite places to live ever. It had a front porch that overlooked a beautiful courtyard with huge oak trees. It had a screen door. It had a kitchen window that I made beautiful curtains for. It had exposed bricks on both sides of the apartment. My daughter and I went to Target and got towels for our bathrooms, sheets and bedspreads, waste baskets, etc. It was so much fun. We had some of our most horrible hours in that place, it was when she started using meth, but I still have good memories of that time and so does she.
Within a year my son was in the Army, my daughter was in a residential treatment facility (for 2 years), and I got the job with my current employer.
My life was becoming settled in a way that it hadn’t before. I was no longer attached to a man who was likely to decide we were moving on a moment’s notice. I still moved around a bit, but eventually I bought a home and settled here.
That walking out on September 5, 1993 was the end of the chaos. Truly. These days I may feel that I am in a rut, but Thank God I have been in a place long enough to have roots. I have not felt that my life was in danger for many, many years. I have a bit of PTSD from that time, which I believe keeps me living a lot more cautious than most people. But I can live with that.
I don’t know if anyone has taken the time to read this, but as I have written this, I have realized how much I needed to write and remember.
I am so very very grateful for this calm life of mine. Even though it is far from perfect, it is far from where it used to be. Thank God.