No one lives forever.
– Connor MacLeod
Timing changes everything. It can take something that might be shocking and make it acceptable, but it can also do the opposite.
My father, Charlie, died this week. He outlived Mother and saw his grandchildren grow into a rowdy crowd. We all knew he had to go sometime, but his solid presence, his daily runs, and his fantastic joy managed to persuade us he’d always be there. His generosity of spirit inspired his grandchildren during the many occasions that their more unfortunate parents were at each others’ throats. It humbles me that I can no longer rely on him to guide my children.
I will always miss you. Daddy.
And so I turn from sad news about a man we all respected and admired to the mess of a family life that remains to me. My “wife” has decided that she shall now be the Grande Dame of Willow Creek, and has set about arranging a social calendar. While I suspect she could have easily filled a party roster from the ranks of her paramours, she first embarked on a social tour of town to bring in new invites. Or perhaps new prey.
It falls instead to my long suffering sister Horta to raise any objections. Had I paid attention to her distaste for my bride-to-be so long ago we both might have had far happier lives. Alas that was not so, but that initial seed of antagonism has grown into a morass of slights and arguments. Having guests over in no way dampens their eternal dislike.
Though I have grown jaded at the witch’s increasingly overt displays of affection, she still finds new ways to inflict pain. Her social climbing could have at least paid some slight reward when it came time for my own celebrations. Such was not to be, and I welcomed adulthood with only Horta for company. I shouldn’t complain, my twin has always been there for me, as I will be for her. It might have been nice, though, to have a few other people around.
My children, Kree and Shi’ar, have grown close. It pains me still that I am distant from them, but they look so like their mother that I cannot bring myself to play the caring father. I hope instead that the bonds they form with each other will sustain them, as does mine with Horta. My fear is that it will not. There was always a healthy competition between Horta and I, a goal of fulfilling my Grandfather’s dream of an ambitious family. They instead appear to cooperate in the goal of supporting each other, with no worries over who will inherit. There is still time, and I hope to see more from them.
Nor do I neglect to place the blame on me. Despite my hopes, I know it will not be me in there pushing them forward.
In a perhaps vain attempt to get away, I took the family back to the woods. The change of scenery may have done us all some good, but it did not change who we are.
Is it progress of a sort that Horta now gets under Her skin just as she does to my sister? Those two are oil and water. My wife cannot stand my sister, as I’ve known for some time, and spends endless hours planning ways to trick or annoy her. While I ache for my sister’s pain, I also know some relief that my wife’s mischief is aimed at another target than me.
I am not the man my father was, and never will be. My children will not know the happiness Horta and I did during our idyllic childhood. It is said that every cloud bears a silver lining, and if there is any it is this; my ability to put misery to the page has sold very well. I may leave them with little in the way of happy memories, but I will leave them in a far better financial position.
It is small comfort to me, but I will take what I can get.