johnstonmr: (Default)
I've been looking for my father for years, and giving it signifigant effort since 1995.

I've always known that the odds of recreating a father-son bond with him were pretty much nonexistant, and I knew it was likely he'd be homeless, or at best, poor. I didn't care. My dream was to Know -- why he and my mother divorced, why he went to prison, why he never tried to contact me (the one thing my maternal family can agree on is that he loved me very much). I know I have an uncle, and I wondered if maybe I had brothers, sisters, cousins, I didn't know about. I dreamed of finding a family that, if I couldn't join, I could at least get to know.

All of that ended today. Robert Eugene Johnston, born 26 November 1949 in Kansas City, Missouri, died on 7 December 1993 in San Francisco, California.

Gods damn it to hell.

There's still more to learn, of course -- my Uncle is probably out there somewhere, and I'll keep looking for him, and I'll be looking for information about my father's life before he died, of course... but it's over. He's gone, and I can never know him, now. All I have left are two old photo albums, one of which is nothing but pictures out of context.

You know... I have blood family that I care for. My little cousins who call me their brother, my maternal half-sister and her daughter, my aunt, my grandfather, lots of cousins and other distant relatives... but I suddenly feel very alone. I've had two sets of parents, natural and adopted, and both are now gone. I feel like I'm all that is left, even though I know otherwise.

Damn it.
johnstonmr: (Default)
It's a terrible thing, to watch someone you love die.

I watched my (adopted) mother die. Not swiftly, and not nearly as much as my brother and sister did -- I'd been kicked out some years before, and no longer lived with them -- but I saw it happen, over the course of years, as the woman I'd known and disliked for so long became a pathetic shell of a human being. When I saw her in her last year of life, she rarely knew who I was. She talked to dogs who'd died a decade before I'd been born, or her father, or sometimes even her ex-husbands. But she never knew me.
And the last time I saw her, she thought I was her dead first son, Ronnie. And I didn't have the heart to tell her otherwise.

Ronnie, you see, died a few years before I was born, victim of a surgical accident. I was adopted some eight years later, and I grew up with the spectre of Ronnie in my life. Whenever I did something she didn't like, she'd say that "Ronnie wouldn't have done that."

Anyway, the last time I went to see her, I swallowed all the years of bitterness I felt towards her, and the anger at what she'd done to us. And I swallowed, too, the pride and dignity of an 18-year old who doesn't want to talk like a kid. "Mommie?" I said, sitting down on the bed.

"Ronnie?" she asked, turning to me, delight on her face, her eyes closed as they always were, now that she couldn't wear her false eyes anymore. And all the anger and hurt just didn't matter anymore. In a blinding moment of clarity, I knew I couldn't let the history of our life together -- the beatings, the emotional and mental abuse -- affect how I handled this. This was a chance to do something Good, for the sake of doing it. So I glanced at the door, and said "Yes, mommie. It's Ronnie."

"I'm so glad you came, honey. I love you so much." And she began to tell me, in the rambling way that only a woman whose mind is mostly gone can do, all sorts of stories of a life Ronnie had never lived. Most of the stories she remembered were things that had really happened with me, and the tears began to fall from my face as she told how she'd lost her eyes, and how wonderful it was that "Ronnie" had read to her for so many years, had been her eyes. There was more, which I'll leave unspoken.

At the end of it, she asked me if she'd been a good mother. I didn't even hesitate. I leaned down, kissed her cheek, and said "You were a perfect mother."

I've always hated myself for doing that. I've always wished I'd said something else. Something more truthful. But now, I look at that night, as the anniversary of her death approaches, and I realise I did something good. I enabled her to die peacefully, not thinking her son hated her.

But I also remember when, after all this, I asked her "What about Michael? Is he a good son?" And she replied "I don't have a son named Michael."

And people wonder why I'm so fucked up.


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