Family Matters

Well I thought today would be like any other day...
Then my dad stopped by my mom's house this afternoon while I was visiting to see me.

I understand that may not sound all that out of the ordinary to a lot of people, but here's a little family history.
My mom and dad divorced when I was... 16 or 17 I guess. Mom got the house and full custody or me and my sister, while Daddy moved down the road from us so he'd always be there for us. Everything would have been fine. Then about a year later or so, Daddy got rear-ended by a semi truck on the interstate coming home. His head smashed through the back window of his pick-up... he seemed ok at first. A few months later, he started acting different. Turns out, he had actually gotten some brain damage from the accident. His brain wasn't producing enough B12.

His doctors put him on a variety of medicines to level him out, but they all ended up either making him more depressed, anxious, or overly hyper. It was frustrating to watch my father disappear more and more every day. He'd have good months and bad months.

Well, during one of his good months, he actually found someone and remarried. He seemed happy and semi-normal all things considered. They bought land together out in the country and I really thought everything would be ok. Then he began to go down-hill... So bad I didn't think he'd come back this time. He was diagnosed as a depressed paranoid schizophrenic.

I got pregnant and had my daughter later that year. He never came to see her. About a month after she was born, my step-mother dragged him to our house to meet her. It was awkward... I didn't see the point in him pretending to care about her when he'd never be there for her.
Our relationship after that has pretty much been non-existent.  It felt like my dad had passed away a long time ago, leaving his body to a stranger that I had to hug and pretend to miss at our rare family functions. Basically, it felt like when long-distance family members come down once a year for Christmas... that awkward forced hug you feel obligated to give. He never called me, I never called him.
Maybe you're thinking, "Wow, she didn't even try to understand his situation." He'd call my sister all the time. He'd ask her to come visit him. It was just me. When Annelise was born and he showed no interest in her, I decided I didn't care anymore. I put myself on emotional lockdown and that's where my heart has stayed.

Tonight, my sister was at my grandparents house (where he stays too now - his wife moved in with her son a few months ago) and when they brought her home, Daddy came too. He said he wanted to see me and Annelise and has missed us. He hugged me, called me his "Sugar-booger" - a nickname from when he was my real daddy, and bribed Annelise into playing with him with Tic-Tacs. He laughed about my 7-month pregnant belly and pointed at his gut saying we were probably due around the same time.

He's had nothing to do with me in years. Annelise is almost 2 and he's had nothing to do with her. Now suddenly, he wants to jump back into this close family-bonded relationship and act like nothing happened. He told Annelise to call him "Pappi" and told her how much he loves her. It was so confusing. She kept looking at me like, "Who is this stranger who keeps hugging me, Mommy?" What can I say to her? I can't explain something I don't understand myself. It makes me angry in a way. He actually thinks he can just jump back into our lives like that? With no apologies or explanations? How dare he play with us like that.

In another way, I'm hopeful. I want my Daddy back. I want him to be at the hospital when The Bean is born and I want him to love Annelise and be there for them. I want them to have a Pappi. But I'm terrified. I've become to emotionally unattached from him that I don't think I can go back. My dad is dead, remember? He died when I was 18. And looking at the past, I know these happy moments with him never last. I feel like he'll be right back to the stranger again in a matter of months. How can I let him into our hearts when he's just going to abandon us again? How can I allow my sweet Leesie to fall in love with another grandparent and then have to explain to her why he doesn't want to see her in a few months? She's already lost her favorite grandpa to drugs - her PawPaw who won't stay off the crackpipe long enough to be there for her. How can I let that happen again? She's going to be so confused if the people who act like they adore her keep going away.

I feel like I should at least try to let him in, but I'm so scared. But I'm also scared that if I leave things the way they are, I'll regret it one day. He told me he'd love it if I'd bring Annelise to see him when I make my weekly grocery shopping trip to town once a week. I told him I'd try...


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