2009 – July 9

Here is a little about my dad’s memorial service and the gathering following.

First, my sisters and I were asked to be at the church 30 minutes early to greet people as they arrived. My sister Tracy (from Atlanta) who was staying with us left even earlier because her husband was playing piano for the service. When Luke, the kids and I arrive, one of my great friends from years gone by was parking right across from us. I haven‘t seen Bill in about 5 or more years and had lost touch with him in the last year. I gave him a big hug and told him he was going to make me cry! Not only was Bill pulling up, but so was my best girl Heather. I couldn’t ask for more that my two best friends to be there for me. As we entered the church, Luke took the kids on in and sat down while I stayed in the entry way to greet members of the church and friends as they arrived. My step mother was there with my step sister Haley and some of their family members as well as one of my first cousins and one of my aunts. Oddly enough, I felt like the step child as Haley put on quite a show of emotions and a dramatic performance for all who entered. I did not know many people since they were generally from their church or some of their neighbors. I introduced myself as Ken’s daughter to anyone who inquired…they were few and far between. After about 45 minutes, it occurred to me that neither of my sisters was standing up there with me. I asked my aunt where they were and she said they were already seated at the front of the church. Not sure why I was left to post duty, but ok. PK, my 20 year old step brother was in and out; he seemed to feel about as awkward as I did.

Before the service began, the family was led into a small room to have a prayer before the service. My sisters came in for that. My two remaining uncles (my dad’s brothers) wailed during the prayer. They have now lost three of their brothers and one of them has lost TWO of his three children and his first wife. After the prayer, we were led into the church to our seats.

The first part of the service was a slide show of photos from my dad’s life. There were pictures of him from childhood and throughout his life including our weddings, graduations, etc. Lots of pictures with the grandchildren…including PK’s illegitimate daughter. More crying from the uncles. And I started crying at that point as well. Fuck. I hate messing up my make-up. Three people spoke: the current minister, asst minister read the Lords Prayer, and the retired minister. They all spoke of the “Ken” they knew from his years of living in Orange Beach…and that’s not quite the “Ken” we know from growing up in Montgomery. At one point, the retired minister was telling a story he said my step mother had approved. It was about my father asking to meet with the minister and give an anonymous donation to the church to help the less fortunate. He specifically asked that it not be known who donated the money. At that point, my tears began to DRY UP and my muscles began to tense, my jaw clench. I wanted to stand up and YELL, “And this man threatened to cut off my dying mother’s alimony because he ‘couldn’t afford it’ anymore! Did you know THAT?!??!” As they droned on about this kind, caring, loving, devoted husband and father. I couldn’t decide if I was going to cry or vomit. I felt sick.

When it was all over…and it was way too long…we began to leave, I saw my uncle Gary (my mother’s brother) and his wife along with my aunt Jeanette from my mother’s side and my cousin Christy (Jeanette’s daughter). I knew Gary would be there but was completely surprised by my aunt and cousin…they drove up from Baker, FL and went directly back home. Very kind of them to come seeing how my dad didn’t pay them much attention over the many years of my parent’s marriage. I gave my uncle Gary directions to the luncheon and gathering after. And as soon as I could, I went to my friends Heather and Bill while Luke chased our children all over the church. I began to do my normal cynical, snide, sarcastic remarks with Heather and Bill and felt much better.

The luncheon after was also interesting. When I walked in the door, my first destination was the alcohol table. Of course I got stopped like 20 times by people in my effort to get there. My step mother stopped me and said that she had only bought 24 beers and didn’t think that would be enough. DUH! I immediately began to glance around the room and count because I had to make it to that table before I got to 24!! I sent Luke’s ass to da sto. Luckily, my girl Heather was looking out for me and delivered me a beer. As the day went on, my sisters ended up in a room off the main area with their friends…once again totally isolated. The highlight of the day was when Haley (the 26yr old step sister) made her way around the room with a tray of Old Forrester shots then stood on a chair and made a final toast to my dad. She talked of how they both had a love of bourbon and spent many nights drinking Old Forrester together. YIKES! If I had ever even thought of drinking bourbon with my dad at her age, I would have been dead. Once again, not the “Ken” we knew. Kinda creepy…she was always sitting in my dad’s lap and hanging all over him. Eeek! That was the last real kick in the gut for me that day. We stayed there until we were down to three beers then Luke grabbed those up and we left. Bill went home to Montgomery and Heather came with us. Heather and I sat on the deck at my mother’s condo and talked until about midnight; Luke entertained the kids at the pool and put them to bed. It was nice to just sit and talk with her about everything.

Luke had to go back home to work the next day for one day and then came back down. We had a mini-vaca planned that week and coverage for my mom so I stayed in Orange Beach. The night he was away, I was invited to dinner with my step mother, Haley, my uncle Darrell and his wife, and my cousin Tina (we call her Teener behind her back). Tina is the lesbian cousin that introduced my step mother to my dad. Yep. Sure did. Crazy Teener wanted to pull me aside after dinner and drone on about how she hopes I won’t cut her off and will continue to keep in touch with her. Dude, I never hear from her and haven’t ever. WTF? She is so strange. I was nice and tried to shift the conversation in another direction. She then went on about how much my step mother loved my dad and how much she loves my kids, etc. I told her I was certain of all that and I had no intention of losing contact with her; she is my kids’ GMama and they love her dearly…more than they did my dad truthfully. I just wanted to get away from Teener. I’m glad she lives in North Carolina.

Now, current date and time. I have had many issues with my sister Tracy in Atlanta. She is totally fucked up by all that is happening. It is nearly impossible for me to get along with her on a normal day so this is really straining our relationship. She lives in a fantasy world where everything should be perfect…but she doesn’t want to do anything to make that happen. She started on me while on my mini-vaca about transporting my mother back to Orange Beach to be at home for her final days. My mother is now completely confined to her bed other than to use a potty chair at her bedside. And using it wipes her out. She is on oxygen 24/7. And my sister thinks we can transport her to Orange Beach??? I say WE but in all actuality, that would be ME. She insisted that I call hospice and discuss taking her home. I told her I would call on Monday on my drive home. I ended up waiting until Tuesday since the nurse was coming out anyway and I could talk to her face to face. The nurse thought I was nuts; I explained to her about my sister. Hospice did not recommend we attempt it but said they would gladly work with us to get her set up in OB if we wanted. When I tried to talk to Tracy about it, she got harsh and snippy with me. I reminded Tracy that the last time my mother left the house, she had to be taken AND brought home by ambulance. She cannot walk and merely using the bathroom wipes her out. It just is not feasible and would be detrimental to her health. I would freak out if I was driving her down there and something happened to her in the car. Holy crap! Can you imagine??? All I knew for sure was that I was the only thing in that scenario that was 100%; I did not have a 100% commitment from anyone else to help me with her care once I got there. She cannot be left alone anymore so how would I get to the store for food? And what do I do with my two kids while I am trapped inside with her all day? I mean, come on. If we were going to take her down there, we should have done that months ago.

Having Tracy here is also stressful because she brings that little shit of a son with her. When we were in Orange Beach that one night for my dad’s service, Avery (her son) spit in my son’s face. That was the THIRD time he has spit in one of my kid’s face. Because I had been drinking, I marched him in to his sleeping parents’ room and told them what happened and left. The next morning, I had a talk with Tracy and Avery. I let her know that while I was completely sober, I wanted it made clear that Avery had spit on my kids for the LAST time and that should he do it again, I will not be responsible for my behavior and I planned to tear his ass up. But I know he will do it again. Luke had gotten on him here at home about something and Avery said to Luke, “You can’t spank me because you are not my father.” Luke took him to my sister Tracy but I authorized him to beat the crap out of him next time and that I would have his back. I won’t take that crap in my own house. My aunt caught him peeing in our koi pond while we were in OB and also catching the fish with a net and throwing them on the concrete. He’s a sick little fucker. Tracy is coming this weekend but luckily Avery will be at a camp out of town. 😀

I’ve had so many visitors coming and going since I got home. It seems someone comes daily to see my mom. It’s like having your house on the market; clean, clean, and clean again. Luke said he is getting tired of having to take the decorative pillows off the bed every night…I usually never make the bed. 😀

My mom is declining quickly. She probably weighs about 90lbs, if that. She is becoming delusional at times and sleeps all but about 4 hours total a day. She says some funny things though. I told my sister Kelly that I was enjoying having her here with me because we can laugh about the crazy things she says; I think Tracy would cry and be very disturbed. My mom talked about Chinese babies the other day and also told us she thought “they” would make us have her memorial service on the lawn at the church because those people down in Gulf Shores are getting crazy. We assured her we could have it inside. This morning, I fought with her over drinking out of a cup with a straw. She wanted to keep turning it up and couldn’t get any water and wouldn’t believe me that she needed to keep the cup down. She hasn’t eaten any solid food since I came back on June 29th. I had to begin calling around for cremation arrangements last week. Unreal. It occurred to me the other day that this Christmas will be the first without either of my parents. Another strange feeling. Luke promises to take me somewhere sunny and warm; we will do something different and not traditional.