First Nothing - Then Too Much
- 2007 May 22
See? I can’t even think of HOW boring it’s going to be. Terrible! I had an image of a guy jabbing his leg with a fork in order to stay awake, but that’s way too gross. Then I imagined someone wanting to stay awake so bad that they bang themselves in the chest with those two iron-things doctors use when someone’s having a heart-attack (you know? when they yell, “Clear!”?) but then I realized nobody just keeps those things around the house. Plus, heart attacks aren’t funny.
They’re not too funny to me, anyway. My dad had a massive coronary when he was 39 years old—when I was ten. And this was a big, strong man: He was six-foot four, maybe 230 pounds. An athlete. And I guess he hit the floor like a ton of bricks. Didn’t kill him, though. Didn’t miss it by much.
It happened in the middle of the night. I slept through the lights, sirens, and paramedics. I woke up the next morning, and he was just ... gone.
“Your father’s in the hospital,” said my “mom.” “He’s had a heart attack.”
I put “mom” in quotes there, because the woman who told me that wasn’t actually my mom. She was my dad’s new wife; she was someone our father had asked my sister and I to start calling “mom.” (And we did.)
Our Actual Mom didn’t live with us anymore. She and our father had divorced two years before, when I was eight and my sister eleven. When that happened, our father had moved out of our house: Suddenly, our family of four became three.
Our mother lived alone with my sister and I for two years after the divorce.
Then one day she said to us, “Well, I’m off to the store for some bread and cigarettes! Be right back!” And then she left for the store. And then she didn't come back.
And I mean, totally disappeared. Gone. For two years, as it turned out. No phone call; no letter; no stop by the house and say hi; no nothing. Total silence; two years. We didn’t know if she was dead, or had fallen off the face of the earth, or been abducted by aliens, or what. Just … nothing. An empty hole, where once our mother had been.
I don’t know how much our mom's disappearance hurt my sister. I assume a lot. But my mom was really mean to her during the time the three of us lived together.
A nightmare that, of course, I got to watch.
Not exactly a picnic either way.
So then our mom disappeared. Then my sister and I spent a night alone in our house, frantically wondering where our mom was. Then, the next morning, who should walk back into our lives and house, but our dad! He was back! Like he never left! Except of course his first wife, our mom, had disappeared—and he had a new wife with him.
In my book, I’m OK—You’re Not, I talk a bit about Mom 2.0. So I won’t do that here. There isn’t space here anyway.
But suffice it to say: Yikes.
Not a happy camper.
And then—after New/Old Dad and New Mom had been living with my sister and me in the New Arrangement for about eight months—my Dad’s heart exploded.
If it didn’t happen the way it did, you couldn’t make it up.