June 01, 2005

Adult Children of Dead Parents

Like me, Jonathon experienced the death of a parent as a kid. I was six, he was fourteen--the same age as my brother when my dad died. My dad. His mom. We have both written about it.

I can't help but pull out Jonathon's comment on my stepfamily post.

I think I now know why I am drawn to certain bloggers and would rather piss on others.

Those I can do gang signs with all have gone inside themselves at some point in time. Then again I am dark. Thus the gang signs.

Thanks J and frank.

Now, to the story at hand. My dad was convinced I needed to call my step-mother, "mom."

The power of the fist, certain.

She did not want that. He did. It was the first time I told him to go fuck himself. The next time would be 17 years later.

IT was a huge source of tension as the other kids were lots younger and they had no problem swapping nouns. That is until they were older. Then everyone was confused.

Sometimes the words mom/dad were used and others their first names. Multi-personalities in that house. That is what happens when you go inside yourself and yourself stops letting you.

Anyway, amazing how freaky things can get when a parent dies. Does it occur to the living parent that by making you call the new addition mom/dad that you have the unique f'ng pleasure of buring two dads or two moms in your lifetime? How sick is that. I think if they make you call em dad/mom you should have the right to make them call the new addition the same name as their dead spouse.

That would prolly clue em in a bit.

Do you understand that he just told a joke to change my life?
Yes, me the angry kid's life--he just cracked me up by telling me something I never thought of, and believe me, when it comes to this topic, if you've been there, you pretty much think you've heard and thought of everything.

Not this though. THIS IS AN AWARD WINNING LINE. Steparents, listen up. It isn't about YOU.
I think if they make you call em dad/mom you should have the right to make them call the new addition the same name as their dead spouse. That would prolly clue em in a bit.

That is Absolutely The Bomb. Stepkids, listen up. Let me give you the quote, from Jonathon's mouth to your ears, pure and simple:

"Sure. I'll call Ted 'Dad' if you'll call Ted 'Robert'. Does that work for you guys, Mom?

That, in a nutshell, is it.

Another part of what Jonathon wrote that made me jump mental rope was this:
Sometimes the words mom/dad were used and others their first names. Multi-personalities in that house. That is what happens when you go inside yourself and yourself stops letting you.

Hello, yes? Right, let me introduce you to my parents. This is my mom and this... is... uh... my... dadidyouseethegamelastnight? Or, this is my mom (anxiety building) and this is my... Ted. Or, These are my mom and stepfather. AND the one I finally settled on: This is my mom and step-dad. I did get that close. Step-Dad.

But when talking with my step sister, even to this day, it's "Your dad and my mom" (me), and "Your mom and my dad" (her). THAT'S RIGHT, WE NEVER GAVE OVER OWNERSHIP.

But when talking to my "blood" brother and sister, even to this day, they are "mom and brian."

Oh, and Jonathon--remember trying to phrase sentences so that you didn't have to use pronouns or proper nouns at all!? The implied "you," direct sentence became an important tool. Or, the time-honored, walk into the room with out acknowledging anyone--best to practice equal opportunity avoidance.

NO WONDER WE WRITE.

STEP.
STEP ON MY HEART.
STEP ON A CRACK BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK
STEP ON A BUG
STEP.

How linguistically complicated and panic inducing our lives become when we try to shoehorn love relationships in place of one another and give them simple names. Reduce them to the lowest common denominator, give simple names to the most complex dramas of our lives. And force kids to figure it out for themselves.

How much grief do you think kids like us carry into our 20s, 30s, 40s? You don't want to think so, because blended families are a lot more common now than in the 1960s and 70s. But you know what? Your kids are us. We roll it up and hide it in places you can't see. We find extra places to keep it, or grow some. But we bring it with us. A big stinking package of grief.

Just ask me or Jonathon. We'll tell you.