A Long Shadow over Thanksgiving…
November 23rd, 2003, My father died in a car crash
Music of the post: Father Time by Kendrick Lamar ft Sampha
Two nights before, he sat us down at the kitchen table and said that he had a problem with drinking.
He said that he was going to stop because he had a problem.
He seemed sincere… But…
I was 17, so I didn’t know how to react. My first reaction was to be skeptical. I’d seen this play out before with my addict aunt—his sister.
I had long given up on needing anything from him after him being a lifelong alcoholic. From him being a shitty father.
I didn’t know then, but it would be the last time I’d see him again.
After work that night, in the middle of the night of the 23rd, he went to a bar with coworkers. The accounts given there, say that he only had one drink. Later confirmed by a blood alcohol test.
Like the many times he did before… He drove drunk.
He had been in multiple car accidents in the past, which I didn’t know about until recently after a conversation about addiction patterns on my dad’s side with my mother.
The vehicles he drove were a reflection of how he lived life.
Used, beat up junk vans with hundreds of thousands of miles on them, near death, poorly maintained.
He was a carpet and floor installer. He needed a van to store the materials he needed for work.
Always a junker from the 80s or earlier, each van being replaced yearly or more.
He ran his life, his vans on eggshells.
Booze came first.
There always was something wrong with his cars.
If he faced his problems earlier, if he stopped drinking he easily could have afforded repairs for the brakes, other engine problems, or simply buy a car that isn’t an excuse to avoid his personal problems.
A reflection of what was wrong with him.
He drank to cover up his problems. He drank to not deal with his shit. He drank to escape.
He was yet another addict in the chain of generational trauma. Of family dysfunction.
To my grandparents credit, they stopped drinking and smoking cigarettes late in life after my addict aunt caught aids.
I don’t know if anyone went to therapy, I suspect not.
I suspect not because of what I know about addiction, codependency, trauma, grief, and generational trauma.
This ends with me.
Maybe I am so comfortable working at a cannabis company because of this. Hm.
That last van was a death wish. It had a couple different engine problems which caused it a constant screech, and the brakes barely worked.
He drove home from the bar in Sodo, next to the Home Depot where he worked in the flooring department.
On his last drink.
The accident happened on top of Beacon hill, which is a couple miles from our house.
He died instantly from a broken spine.
Maybe he could have survived if he had maintained the brakes on his van. Perhaps he could have survived if he had a seatbelt made past the 1980s design on his van. But he didn’t. He chose these risks on top of driving drunk. He put himself and us, his family because he chose to run away from his problems.
Until he embodied being a living problem. As said in modern therapy terms, he was a danger to himself and others.
Another driver was disabled due to the
accident crash. There was a third car involved, but I guess they were okay. More on this later.
Seattle Police came to our house, knocked on the door and told my mother what had happened.
My dad was in a car
accident crash and died.
The morning after, my Aunts on my mom’s side came over. It was that day that I was old enough to understand, and know first hand… What it feels like to have your father die suddenly. My grandfather on my moms side died in his 40s from heart disease when my aunts were teenagers and my mom was young.
It was comforting to hear from my late Aunt Ann that they knew what it felt like to be where we were. That we would get through this hard time. And though I’m not religious, it was comforting for my Uncle Gene to lead everyone there in prayer, asking for grace from God. (I wish I could have told this story at her funeral last year.)
I was told to call my friends to tell them what happened. I managed but was traumatized for a long time after. I was only able to heal in therapy about ten years later.
After those calls, my brother and I decided to go to a friend’s house for a few days.
I felt like a stranger at Dad’s funeral. It was a decent-sized crowd at the act theater where it was hosted. (Grandma had connections in the Art community through her corporate job at Safeco Insurance). I wasn’t that sad because he had died. I barely knew the man, and he was emotionally unavailable or distant from my brother and me. I was sad for others there that I knew were sad about his passing. Because of their Alcohol addiction and many personal problems, he never dealt with them.
As a result of dads blood alcohol level being at or just under the state legal limit at that time, he was deemed at fault for the crash.
The driver who was disabled because of the crash, sued my mother. Which led to an 8-year-long lawsuit for everything we had.
For eight years, I didn’t know what would happen. Even though my mother dealt with the majority of the shit involved, for that entire period, I didn’t know if we would become homeless or be forced to move to another state just so our family had a place to live. There wasn’t much I could do to help since I was in high school and then going to college.
I had no idea what this person looked like. I don’t know their name. All I knew was that he was a threat to my family and our survival due to spite. Yes, my dad was at fault for him being
in a wheelchair and breaking bones. The injured guy did recover, and didn’t have any worse injuries. However, to sue the family for everything and spend years chasing it is messed up.
The lawsuit ended because the bastard died of a heart attack, which was in 2011. That was when I was finally able to start grieving. It took several more years and several therapists before I could process that grief.
I obsessively read all I could with the limited information and the internet to teach myself about being a man and psychology. But since I struggled to find a consistent therapist, progress was slow. Or there wasn’t any. I was stuck in a swamp and needed help. Eventually, I got it.
One story I learned about my dad is that he once went to therapy in the 80s. But, he acted strangely and later on said that he made up what he said to the therapist he saw, which made me so mad when I heard about it.
More on my experience with therapy in this post below.
All said, I’m grateful to have turned the corner.
It took until 2020, to try dozens of different medicines for ADD, Depression, adding many supplements, reading lots of self help articles and books, psychedelic mushrooms used therapeutically, cannabis, and not giving up on therapy to get to where I am today.
I still have healing to do. Im not perfect, and I make mistakes.
I only feel down regarding dad this time of the year. I think of him as examples of who I don’t want to be.
I take care of myself; I am mindful of my mental health. My biggest life goal is to end this chain of dysfunction.
Therapy tips and helpful information
- Attached by Amir Levine & Rachel Heller
- No more Mr Nice Guy by Robert Glover, The body keeps the score by Bessel A. van der kolk
- The dreamer and the fantasy relationship by Natalie Lue
- The six pillars of self esteem by Dr. Nathaniel Branden
- Complex PTSD by Pete Walker
- Dating Greatly by Brene Brown
- Man’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl
- Codependent no more by Melony Beattie
- Healing from a narcissistic relationship by Margalis Fjelstad
- Late bloomers by Rich Karlgaard.
- All of the above are on audible. Most of these I’ve read twice.
- Still not recovered
- Struck by Seratonin Syndrome
- On short hiatus for health reasons
- I need help moving out.
- It feels like a new chapter is on the way
- Rejected again
- A gift from a reader, and a repaired cellphone.
- Life with Long Covid
- Let’s Cook: How Baked Alaska turned into Dos Leches.
- Potluck at a Pot Company