Apparently, when you claim to love me, and then just walk away, something happens to you. I joke, yes, but I’m also amazed at the “coincidence” that I see.
Let me explain.
Linda, my youngest daughter, began rejecting me when she was in her mid-teens. I was inflexible about some of the rules of the house, and standards of behavior I expected of my kids. You know, things like pick up after yourself, don’t leave dirty dishes on the counter when they can just as easily be put in the dishwasher, don’t run the dryer at midnight (it’s located right directly under my bedroom), no phone calls after 11:00 p.m., especially on the nights that I had to work the next day, behave in school, that sort of stuff.
After she graduated high school, she began taking classes at the local community college where I worked. We did not have the benefit of a tuition waiver at that time, but I was able to pay her tuition by payroll deduction over a 5 payroll period – a bit more than $300 every two weeks. Believe me when I say that deduction was painful in the household budget, and a lot of sacrificing had to be done in order to ensure Linda could stay in college. During that time, she worked a good number of hours at her part-time job, and when she wasn’t working, she was out with her friends. More than once I mentioned to her that it didn’t appear she was taking college seriously and not applying herself completely. With a last name of “Martinez,” it was going to be easy for her to get financial help via scholarships and grants from local and national Hispanic organizations. All she had to do was have decent grades. She couldn’t be bothered. When she graduated from the community college, with around a 2.0 GPA, I told her I wasn’t going to pay for her to continue her college education and, if she wanted to get a bachelors degree, she’d have to pay her own way since she didn’t even TRY to get financial help from other sources. That summer, when she was 20 years old, she announced she was going to Colorado to see her father. She had three part-time jobs and was certainly capable of buying her own plane ticket and, honestly, she was 20 so who am I to say she can’t go, right? A couple of weeks before she was due to go, Joe offhandedly mentioned something about Linda’s car and then said something about her not coming back. “What do you mean?” I asked him. He explained that Linda was MOVING to Colorado, not just going to visit. I was floored. I was hurt. I was angry that she hadn’t bothered to tell me this. I was a lot of things. So, off she went to Colorado – pretty much thinking Dad would pay her tuition. Yeah, no. Dad “couldn’t” help with her tuition, so she had to work a year to establish residency. In that year, her father and stepmother got transferred to California, so Linda was left to fend for herself. There was a huge battle between her, her father, and me because she wanted him to give her “her half” of the child support, and he thought she should be able to have it. I refused, explaining that it was taking away from Joe and he deserved the same opportunities Linda had for college. I also explained that I went into debt because I’d had to pay her tuition in cash for the past two years. So, she stopped speaking to me. Over the next three or four years, there was on again, off again contact. At one point when we were on again, we were talking on the phone one day and I mentioned to her that Michelle and her husband had bought a house and I was so thrilled for them, and I expressed how proud I was that Michelle had pulled herself up out of the gutter in which she had found her life in the years before that. Linda went off about how SHE wanted to be the one I was proud of and how Michelle hadn’t really EARNED that pride, and yadda yadda yadda. I let it slide, and I shouldn’t have. I told Linda I had always been proud of her, and had told her that constantly.
She met a guy, got pregnant, and they had a big wedding planned. At one point, her stepmother mentioned to me that Linda had been particularly nasty, and the stepmother wondered if it was the real Linda showing, or just the pregnancy. I assured her it was a bit of both.
On Easter Sunday that year, I was talking to her on the phone, and mentioned something about Joe. Don’t remember what, and that’s not really important. What’s important is that every single time I mentioned Joe when talking to her, she’d come back with some sort of insult about Joe. “That kid is as dumb as a box of rocks,” or similar insults. As I’d heard this so much, I had grown weary of it and that day I said to her “That’s my SON you are talking about. If someone talked about your son that way, it would piss you off, so you don’t get to talk about mine that way.” She became enraged and screamed at me “I hate you! I never want to talk to you again!” She continued on telling me she didn’t want me to come to the wedding, telling me “You haven’t earned the right to be there.”
A couple of days later, her soon-to-be-husband called and said “I know you want Linda to feel the wrath of Mom, but…” and told me that Linda felt bad about what had happened and that she was sorry. I asked him “Then why am I talking to you?”
As it turned out, Brandon’s reserve unit got called up for the Iraq war, and the wedding was off. Brandon Jr. was born and the two were married a few days later by a justice of the peace. Linda and I were back on speaking terms at that point, and I actually flew out to Colorado to visit for a couple of weeks. We had a great time, but I found myself walking on eggshells around her, as I had been doing since she was about 15. Over the course of time since then, it’s been on again and off again, mostly off.
However, during that time, Linda had a scare, as pre-cancerous cells were found in her cervix (cervical dysplasia I think it’s called). Okay, so, it’s not cancer, but it’s just that other side of it and could still end up as cancer, especially since it’s a condition that has popped up with me over the past 3 years.
Quite simply, Lisa cheated on me. She then gaslighted me for a couple of months afterward, while at the same time not even trying to hide her infidelity any more. Three months after I learned of her infidelity, I booted her ass out. That was six years ago now.
Late last summer, while Joe and I were cleaning out the garage, I came across some stuff I thought she might want. I sent her a text, with pictures, asking her if she wanted the stuff. She replied back that, while she wanted it, it would be some time before she could come get it as she wasn’t supposed to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. I asked what she had done to herself. I was shocked (but honestly not surprised) to learn she’d had breast cancer, and was recovering from a double mastectomy. I say I wasn’t surprised because she’d had an aunt with an aggressive type of breast cancer that apparently is passed along family lines.
Michelle (my oldest), as a teen, was my cross to bear. She ran away at 16 and found herself walking roads that no mother ever wants to see her daughter have to walk. She landed in Bath (where I grew up) and found herself pregnant in 1994. Even though I loathed her “man” (and I use that term VERY loosely), I was congenial to him in order to keep peace. From 1994 until 2016 Michelle and I had a great relationship. We talked on the phone a lot, we shared the holidays every year, and often got together “just because.”
In the weeks leading up to Christmas of 2016, I started sending Michelle messages, asking when we could get together for the holidays. I had made her a blanket with her name embossed on it, and was really excited to give it to her. She worked shitty retail hours and I knew she was going to be busy, and told her so. I told her we could work around her schedule. I got no replies. I sent her message after message. I left voice mails. I sent emails. I think it was around February or March when I finally just sent the damn blanket to her. I got a text from her saying how much she loved it, and that she was going to try to keep it nice, for a family heirloom. But that was it.
Later that year, I learned from Joe that Michelle and her boyfriend were picking up and moving to Las Vegas. The kids (21, 17, and 15) were staying behind to live with Michelle’s ex-husband. About a year later, they got married (again, I heard this through the grapevine). And then, last year in May or June, my ex’s wife sent me a text message telling me that Michelle had been diagnosed with breast cancer – highly aggressive. I reached out to Michelle, and we made our peace with each other. She wouldn’t tell me what I had done to warrant banishment from her life, saying it was in the past. I was grateful to have her back in my life.
This past spring, even though in December they had found no cancer anywhere in her body following chemotherapy treatments, another mass was found during a surgical pre-op for an elective double mastectomy. I flew out to Las Vegas and stayed with her for six weeks, while her husband was out on tour with the band that employed him. I thought it was a wonderful time, we sat for hours and chatted, I cooked and grocery shopped and cleaned, did poop and piddle patrol on the pads in the house, walked the dogs, fetched things for her, and just generally did whatever I could to help out. Toward the end of my stay, Michelle was told that they had gotten all the cancer – that the “margins were clear.” I came home, and two months later, BAM. Banished again. Just blocked. No word. No fight. Just – banished.
A couple of months after that, she learned that the cancer had spread to her brain. And that’s where we are with that – she still won’t speak to me, and she has cancer in her brain. I have sent hundreds of texts to her, telling her I love her. No response. Again. With NO real idea of what I said or did.
Tammy is my foster sister – 10 years my junior. For around 20 years we had a pretty cool relationship. She was my confidante and, sometimes, she confided in me. We rode out some really horrific family shit together, concerning her father.
When Lisa and I split, Tammy held me up, even though I didn’t want to be held up. She pushed me to “live well” and learn to get past my grief. But the same thing happened with her that happened with Michelle. I asked her when we could get together for the holidays, as I’d bought her a Keurig and I knew she was going to love it. I also had a sweatshirt of hers that she’d left at my house. But, no answer. She didn’t respond to texts, voice mail messages, emails. Nothing. I pushed on trying to get through to her until around March (her birthday) and finally one day in August, just left the shit on her front doorstep.
I went to the property the ex and I had owned, to get some clearing out done so that I could get it sold. She had made it clear through Lisa that she wanted a piece of equipment she had loaned us, and that equipment sat outside the barn. I did what I had to do at the property and left at dusk. I had been in the area from late morning until around 5-ish, and not one word from her about that equipment. My property was about a 10 minute drive from her house.
The next morning, I went back to the property, and found the equipment gone. She and her husband had come under cover of darkness and gotten it. So, she and I fought over that, and she took exception to something I had posted here on this blog, so she banished me from her life, too.
I learned a few months later that she’d had cervical cancer, had surgery, and was doing well. I learned yesterday, though, that at the beginning of this year, she, too, was diagnosed with breast cancer and has had a double mastectomy as well. She apparently has a rare, aggressive cancer, similar to that which Michelle has.
So, there you have it. Four women, all of whom I have loved immensely, have banished me from their lives and have gotten cancer. Well, in Linda’s case, it wasn’t cancer but, if I’m being honest, I’m not terribly concerned much about anything to do with her. Perhaps that’s why she simply had the dysplasia instead of full blown cancer.
I’m finding, though, that I’m not a very nice person. I say that because of the preceding paragraph, and also because, with the exception of Michelle, I have come to realize that I don’t care about the others. Well, let me qualify that by saying I care, but not enough to do anything about it.
Each of these people had some sort of issue with me and, rather than talk to me about it, rather than be grown-ups and face me, they just walked away without a word. With Linda, I can list a hundred things I have done or continue to do that irritates her. The fact that I draw breath at all is likely very high on the list. So, she doesn’t bother me at all.
Lisa, well, she chose to cheat. She blamed me for her cheating. She never once said “I’m not happy,” or anything remotely similar. She just walked away from our marriage without a word other than “I never meant to hurt you.” Well, that ship sailed, too.
Tammy, well, she talks a good game about empathy and caring and all that happy horse shit. But the truth is, it’s all bullshit. I think I was a burden to her during those dark days immediately following the collapse of my marriage. I was grief struck, and I know she got tired of holding me up. But when it got tough, she bailed and has never once responded to the texts I occasionally sent over the past 5 years, extending an olive branch.
I care about Michelle and what she’s going through. I’m heartsick about the cancer’s recurrence. But I have also accepted that she does not want me in her life and I will respect that. I have tried to emotionally distance myself from it and have been able to function better because of it. I may just be kidding myself too, but there it is.
And there it all is. I apparently give people cancer when they banish me from their lives without a single word.
Be nice to me.