Heart of Stone
When boys are very young, our Dad seems like a god: all-knowing and all-powerful. As we age, we see their human flaws, and they gradually descend to human status. Then we get our hormones, and the accompanying mental and emotional tumult, and we see them as misguided fools. Gradually, we learn about life and acquire some wisdom of experience, and we see their values again... these values increase with our own age and wisdom. Eventually, hopefully before they're gone, they're like gods again: so wise, and with the power of age.It's beautiful when that circle completes itself. It sure hurts like Hell when it doesn't. I remember when my Son thought the world of me; when He looked at me with visions of magic in His eyes. I remember when He believed everything I said, when He trusted my word, when He looked up to me. I remember seeing His deep sadness, when He was 10 years old, and not being able to fix it. I remember seeing the magic leave His eyes, seeing His gradual dismay with my words and my presence. I remember talking to my Dad about it, and Dad’s words of reinforcement and encouragement: "Nature has a way of making it easier for a child to leave the nest, and for us to let them go." I should mention that my Son graduated from High School Valedictorian, and was always noted for politeness and consideration of others... He was the kind heart that everyone felt comfortable near... an "Old Soul." He was always warm and kind to others, but I was an annoying jerk. I knew that was coming; I understood it was a phase; it sucked, but I took it with a grain of salt: He’ll come out of it, one day; He’ll understand someday what He doesn’t understand today. By the time He was 17, He had little use for me. I was doing a terrible job of dealing with divorce from his Stepmother, had no self-esteem, and was lost in my own private Hell. I remember Him referring to me as a loser and my not arguing the point. I remember when He came back from His first year at college, and his girlfriend told me she needed to tell me something... sometime. I remember Him telling me "Love you, bye," as I told Him I was going to the store to get a cable for the computer I'd built - first computer I'd built; I had a cold and was sick, but I was excited about being ready to power it up. I remember coming home 20 minutes later and feeding the stray cat outside a package of Carl Buddig ham. I don't like cats, and I've always been allergic to them, but this cat was quiet, gentle, pure snow white, bright green eyes, beautiful... a good creature. I spent five minutes chopping up the ham for it to eat, and putting it on a paper plate behind the utility shed outside. I remember going to his room to ask if He wanted to see me power up the computer. He looked like He was asleep, but He had his .22 caliber rifle laying across His chest... then I saw the pool of blood under Him. I remember an eternity, then. I don't think it was more than 30 seconds, maybe a minute, I don't know. The cordless phone was beside Him. I picked it up, and there was a dial tone, or some sound, maybe Muzak, I don't know. I called 911. I remember talking and shouting at Him; trying to find a pulse; thinking I needed to go after Him. I remember realizing He was dead, and I didn't know what to do. I remember kissing Him goodbye. He was still warm. I remember thinking I should go after Him, bring Him back. I remember thinking of my Mother - seeing Her see that He and I were both dead. My Dad had died a year and a half before. My Son idolized my Dad like He used to idolize me (Grandpas are immune to adolescent tumult; they've already paid their dues). I know several ways to end my life, without the overt appearance of suicide… but I know what She’d feel. I really don’t want Her to feel that, but I know I won’t be able to keep on much longer. I remember the Police coming to our home. I was a murder suspect, but they treated me like a father who'd lost his child. I remember the Medical Examiner telling me that, though I'd asked to see Him once more before they took Him away... maybe I shouldn't. Something like: “People want to see their loved one a last time, as they were. The process of legal inquiry changes that. I strongly advise that you wait till the funeral home has seen Him.” His eyes clearly stated what he was saying. I remember understanding what he was saying. I still see what I never saw. I know life has more horrible images available, but I haven’t been able to see them; maybe I should try harder. I remember kissing Him goodbye in the casket. He was too cold. That was in February of 1999. Within a month, I’d seen that I would be dead within a few years. I’d try to last 10 years, if Mom didn’t pass away before then. I felt no obligation to last more than ten years. It’s now February of 2008. She’s still going pretty strong… I’m on the edge, trying to keep the charade of “busy and occupied.” She knows I’m screwed up in the heart and head. I’m so damn tired of pushing on and trying to keep myself within society’s guidelines. I have to be drunk to sleep. I can’t talk to anyone about this, so I’m talking to you. I’ve said it to myself for so long that the words are inaudible. I think Dads want to be loved and respected by their kids. We want to instill strength in our kids. I feel like mine died drained by life, empty, alone, seeing no love around Him. Thanks for listening. Don’t let it hurt you. I’m history. I haven’t really existed for years. I’m just a lesson with a moral that’s not clear to me. I hope you see it and get something of use from it.