“Nowhere Man”

Posted: May 5, 2013 in Life
Tags: , ,

dad2

“He’s a real nowhere man, sitting in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans for nobody”

When I was a teenager my parents split up. My Dad had a girlfriend but continued to stay with my mother as well. His life with his girlfriend was a secret to everyone. He spent time between both places, so I always referred to him as the “Nowhere Man”. He was with his family but usually when he was there he was drinking and abusive. When he left we “knew” but didn’t really “know” where he was, what his other life consisted of, so he was really “nowhere” to me.
On March 10, 2013, my father, Kenneth Ellis Arnold, Sr. passed away from prostate cancer. He was 65 years old.
The last week of his life I couldn’t go visit him. I could make all kinds of excuses as to why I didn’t visit him, but I won’t. The bottom line is, I didn’t want to watch him die. I knew it was close, I could see it in his eyes, I could see his fear. I’m a nurse, death is a familiar thing for me, but not when it’s your own, someone you love, your family.
I think about my Dad all of the time. He has so much potential in his life. So many things he could have accomplished. He was an alcoholic and never admitted it or sought treatment. He had a few health scares over the years and he would quit for awhile but always went back to drinking. He was much mellower in the last few years though. He became cranky rather than explosive. I attribute the alcoholism to his death. Perhaps he would have gotten more aggressive treatment for his prostate cancer if he wasn’t drinking.
I don’t want to remember my father as a destitute alcoholic. He had alot of attributes that I admired. He was handsome. All of my girlfriends from grammar and high school have told me recently that he was the “hot” Dad. He was smart. As a kid, I used to look through his old notebooks and drawings from when he went to school to be a steamfitter. His mechanical drawings were impressive. Meticulous and neat. His grades for these drawings were almost always “A’s”. That made me proud of him. Once, in junior high, I had a science project to make a kite out of household materials that would actually fly. My Dad built me a kite out of sticks from the yard, newspaper, string, and old torn up yellow curtains for the tail. I took it to school, so PROUD of that kite. It not only flew, I got an “A”. My Dad made me that kite! MY DAD! I’ll never forget that as long as I live.
He was my protector. Although at times he could be abusive, he would never allow anyone to hurt his kids. When I had boyfriends that were unsavory characters and were not taking “no” for an answer when we broke up, all Dad had to do was answer the front door and they never bothered me again.
He had a sense of humor. I remember many times at family functions when he had everyone laughing their asses off. Even in the hospital when he was in excruciating pain and dying, he was cracking jokes and being funny, telling funny stories. When I would visit him, usually on Sundays, we would have a beer together, just the two of us, and we would laugh. I cherish those memories.
And when he used to play softball. He was a power hitter. He knocked it over the fence often. He wasn’t the fastest runner, I inherited that from him, but he was good. His team always went to the championship. He taught my brother baseball and my brother ended up playing professional baseball for almost 10 years. Dad deserves some credit for that!
My father’s death has caused a small ripple in our family dynamic. Because of the “secret life” he had been living, after he passed away alot of old feelings resurfaced, for my brother and I mostly because we knew Dad differently than my sister, who is much younger than we are and doesn’t have the same experiences and memories that we do. I’m not going into detail about this “ripple” because it’s fixable and will heal itself in time. We are family and should love and support one another before it’s too late to make things right.
I have some regrets where my father is concerned. I wish I had spent more time with him these last few years. I enjoyed his company. The last time I saw him before he passed away he was actually bragging to his nurses about me. He told them I was a nurse too and that I was really good at art and writing. Finally, he acknowleged me after years of struggling for his approval. I will NEVER forget that day. The last thing we said to each other as I walked out of his hospital room was, “I love you.” And that’s what I want to remember most about my Dad.

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Comments
  1. Robin Renee says:

    Ha – You got the “hot” dad and I got the “slobby” dad, lol. I love you so much, my friend, and it is painful to watch you go through this. It’s hard to witness it knowing there’s really nothing anyone can do but to be present. Grief is so terrible and inevitable. The one thing I’ve learned, especially with the passing of my mom in 1998 is I believe that people do the best they can in life. We may not all make the best choices – people may not always behave they way they wish they did, but at the core of it, especially with parents, I think there is always love. Now the good memories and the recognition of all the positive interests I acquired from my family far outweigh the sad and traumatic. I’m happy to see you healing yourself with good memories of your dad. I love the kite story!

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