October 29, 2014
Dad spent a good part of the year traveling the world. After all his bellyaching about money, he was suddenly splashing out left and right. Even more amazing was that he somehow had all this money to spend. How was that possible? Well, I guess not paying taxes leaves extra cash lying around.
First he went to the Holy Land, Dad left me a voicemail immediately upon his return, his rumbling voice proclaiming “I’m baaaaack…” Not to be outdone, he drove past my place twenty minutes later on his way home from the airport, blowing his horn nonstop. Once again he had to rub it in my face that he knew where I lived and that he could drive by anytime he wanted.
Next stop, Alaska. He drove up there with his van and camper and spent three months working with Habitat for Humanity. Why he went all the way up there, I had no idea, especially when there’s plenty of Habitat for Humanity work close to home. But I guess he wanted to see Canada and Alaska, since he went on helicopter tours and saw the sights. He even returned home with a church pew he picked up from the Army chapel in Anchorage or some such shit. I half-expected him to be saying Mass in the living room the next time I went over.
Of course, his first stop when he returned was to visit Mom at work. I dropped her off and sure enough there was his car in the parking lot. This time I went inside to head him off. I found him lurking by the lamps and mirrors. He looked like a deranged homeless person. His clothes were dirty and unkempt, his hair and beard were wild, and he had a bloody spot on top of his head. He was loading logs onto a handtruck when it became unbalanced and the handle flew up and whacked him. That had to be his twentieth blow to the head. Dad was going to end up nuttier than ever.
Anyway, I buttonholed him for a half-hour and listened to his stories about Alaska. He finally shook me off so he could deposit his film at the photo department, but I “bumped” into him a few minutes later in front of Mom’s desk. I kept him occupied until 9AM. By that point there were more and more people milling about, effectively ruining his opportunity to harass Mom without anybody else around. I knew my plan was working because I could sense his growing restlessness, and Mom told me he left the store right after I did. Good.
Nonetheless he was in again the following morning. The first thing Mom saw was some religious picture on her desk, which she swept aside without a second glance. Dad appeared moments later, asking if she’d ever heard the phrase “mansions in the sky.” Mom just looked at him until he continued: “Because I have a mansion you could live in…” Mom snorted. She’d taken advantage of his absence to snoop around the house with me. If he really wanted her to come back, he certainly wasn’t making an effort to clean up or make room for her.
Dad then launched into his usual speech: “Remember when you said you’ll always love me…?” and “You made vows…” etc. etc. Then he asked whether he can come over to her house to visit. When Mom told him he wasn’t invited, Dad said, “Well about I stand outside and talk to you through the door?” The guy just doesn’t get it. Finally he informed Mom that was leaving for Rome, and asked if she’d like to come with him when he went to England and Ireland. Mom shot him down right away, but hell – I’d be up for that, although it was most likely a religious trip.
I remembered how he wanted to take me on a trip the summer after I graduated high school. First he wanted to bring me to World Youth Day in Canada to see Pope John Paul II, and have us sleep on the floor of some stranger’s house in Toronto eating rice and beans. Then he wanted to drive from there to Guadalupe to see the pilgrims going to the basilica. Say what? “Dad, if you want to see a bunch of Mexicans going to church we only have to go two towns over,” I told him.
So I said thanks but no thanks, and he was irrevocably butthurt about it. “Oh, I’m sure if one of your brothers or sisters asked you, you’d be right there,” he snarled. One, they wouldn’t ask me to go to something like that, and if they did I’d still say no. Plus that was around the time I was starting to experience friction with him, so the last thing I wanted was to be stuck on the road with him for four weeks.
Back in the present day, Dad left for Rome and Kathleen tearfully informed Mom that she was moving back in with him. Again. This was after Shannon and I had helped her move all her things out when Dad threatened to change the locks and put her stuff on the curb. And now she was getting back on the merry-go-round for the third time. Or maybe it was the fourth time? I was losing count.
Kathleen had a party cleaning the house and making room while Dad was off in Rome. She went berserk seeing the additional clutter Dad accumulated since her last stint there, so she put it out to the street without waiting to consult him. Karma strikes again. Then she brought in two guy friends to paint the bedroom for her. But it wasn’t until Johnny went over to poke around and see what was going on did the neighbors come running over to find out who he was and what was he doing there?
“Um, this is my dad’s house…” he told them. It was a WTF moment for him, and an illuminating one for me. Apparently the house was being watched. Good to know. Johnny just fed them a story that he was coming to see Dad since it’s been a long time and he missed him. Then he told Kathleen the same thing when she showed up. Now it was going to get back to Dad that Johnny was at the house, and who knew what kind of shit that was going to start.
Meanwhile Kathleen was moving in on Halloween. Halloween… well I guess that was appropriate.