At approximately 8ish a.m., four years ago to the day, I was in the living room when my father took his last breath.
I spent the night before slipping droppers full of morphine into his mouth in an effort to keep him comfortable. Praying that I was helping to keep him out of pain, while not crossing any sort of unconscious, unintentional line.
Looking back (which is always how we can see every last thing, so perfectly crystal clear), I know that I could have given him plenty — it would have eased my worried mind about him being in pain, and I wouldn’t have been heedlessly rushing him to an untoward death.
He had been semi-slash-unconscious for well over 24 hours, and had his last hurrah at my nephew’s birthday party three days prior. It truly was one of those moments where the knowledge that he would be in “a better place” was writ large and deep into my psyche. I was not upset to see him go from where he was.
I had spent the better part of that summer with him in various ways and means — driving to and from doctor’s appointments, sitting in a predictable cadre of waiting rooms, ingesting mass quantities of daytime and syndicated television.
I watched our relationship change quicker than it ever had before; it had slowly morphed over the time that I had been sober, but now the forces pressing on it were more urgent, more crystallizing. I saw that he trusted me with things that he hadn’t before — because I could be trusted, but also because he could no longer *entirely* trust himself. Just being the designated driver was a huge shift in our dynamic.
I felt like we both softened. We both were less easy to irritate, more able to understand. I think we were quick to see the value in resting in someone’s company. In the newfound ability to give without expectation of return and in the possibility of receiving gracefully.
But diamonds still need a LONG period of pressure to become the gems that they are. He and I never fully got around our long-standing family tradition of sidestepping emotions and failing to be perfectly forthcoming if it seemed like it might engender an uncomfortable situation — even if it was just an outpouring of gratitude or love. Too much direct truth was never our forte.
So, after he died, I think some of the things that I have regretted most were not asking more about him. Recording the history. Of what he thought about my mom when they met. About what it was like when he left the service. About what he was thinking and feeling when he got so sick that both of his kidneys failed and he needed a transplant and both of his kids were under 10 years old.
Asking him more about his childhood. Asking him about what he’d want people to remember. Asking him to tell me more about the family tree and the history of Wind Lake so I could have it in some sort of tangible record. Oh, the information that left with that man. What an encyclopedia.
And in doing so, I guess the tables would be turned. He could do said same.
In the last few years, I’ve felt increasingly weird when I see “coming out” days. I don’t know that I’m *not* out, but I guess I never had an actual conversation with my father, and have never had one with my mom. My reasoning has always fallen into the “need to know” train of thought.
I identify as bisexual; queer. I am attracted to men and women. However, at 44 years old, I have never been romantic with/dated a woman. I’ve not had a girlfriend, or smooched a lady sweetie. So, I figured, if/when (?) I ever get a girlfriend, I’ll bring her around and tell them and that will be that.
So far, I have not had the opportunity. But for whatever reason, the last few years or so when these days have come around, I now have felt like I have a “secret.” Or that I am actually IN a closet that I was never in before. It seems crazy to me, but that’s how it feels, so it must be how it is.
I guess I haven’t had to prove myself in some sort of Kissing Jessica Stein moment (which I thought was going to be my benchmark). But, it does seem like I’m protecting some part of myself from the rest of the world — both them from me and me from them — because I haven’t fit into some sort of pre-conceived notion of what I think YOU think my sexuality should look like.
I am a bisexual who hasn’t had a romantic relationship with a woman yet. Who is TOTALLY open to it, but who hasn’t yet. That’s as out as I can be about it. And my living mom can see/read this — as can my sister and nephew and niece. And wherever Energetic Dad is, he already knew.
Nothing’s really gonna change, because nothing’s really changed. What’s changed is that now I don’t feel like I’m keeping a little piece of myself from a little piece of my world.
My dad used to joke that he was “bi,” because I think he finally came around to the understanding that he was “bi”polar, like myself. He was never gonna get treated for it, but I think he saw/understood what it was, and why he had the same things I did.
We’re BOTH “bi,” Dad. I’ve just got two heaping helpings.
In memoriam: Jon W. Geboy (1.25.49 — 10.11.14)
In celebration: Jocelyn D. Geboy (3.5.74 — let’s rock this thing out)