Today I feel like being serious. I'm not diving into the Great Perhaps, but I am diving into my great beginning. To tell you about my beginning, I have to start at the end, which is also a beginning.
The end happened on September 19th, 2009. Next Tuesday it will be four months. Four months since the world as I knew it just stopped, and I was on pause. I wasn't feeling, or wondering why. I just was. I had lost the single most important thing in my life and realized that the phrase "You never know what you have until you've lost it," is the truest thing anyone has ever spoken.
Now we jump backward to March 14th, 1991. 25 days shy of entering my second year of life. 6,764 days before the end. That day the greater piece of my father's heart was buried with the love of his life, the mother to his six children, and the woman that it slowly killed him to live without. In what was left of his hollow heart, he knew he had to survive. He had to keep going to make sure there was a comfortable, if not always flourishing, life for his children.
He had been working the night shift loading Hi-Lo trucks for Pepsi Cola Co. and continued to do so, making a pretty decent living and making sure we didn't go without anything that we needed. We moved into a giant five bedroom house on the lake, and we led The Good Life, to say the least.
He eventually married again in 1995. Her name was Rose Marie and he met her when she called the house from Milford, Connecticut selling encyclopedias. They hit it off and before anyone knew it, Dad was on a road trip with me in tow to meet the woman who swept him away with encyclopedias. I remember laying on her living room floor whining because I wasn't allowed to call home and talk to my sister when I saw him get down on one knee and pop the question. She said yes, and so on the way home he had a new wife AND me in tow. I couldn't be bothered by this, because at that point I had never really given the idea of having a mother any thought. I liked her, I was six so I liked everyone. To say that my brothers and sisters liked her would be a lie though. She was a decent woman, but had MS so there were mild mental issues. The marriage lasted until I was in forth grade, when my dad packed her things and sent her back. It was cruel, but there is only so much one man can handle. I still love her to this day, even though it's been over eleven years since I've seen her. I still look for ways to contact them sometimes, though I know she is in a fragile state and it wouldn't be fair.
In 1998, several months after my oldest brother left for the military my dad slipped a disc in his back while loading the hi-los. He had to have double back surgeries and was never able to work again. Things went seriously down hill from that point. He began drinking heavily, and abusing his pain medication for his back. Eventually he had his doctor take him off of the pain meds, but the drinking continued. He was depressed, and quite frankly I don't blame him. He lost two wives and his job. Things went on this way for years, half the time he wouldn't even want to get out of bed. My brothers were out of control, my sister Holly had long ago moved out and on with her life, starting her family, and Angie was trying to be the first one in the family to graduate High School.
The summer before my 8th grade year Dad met a crazy little woman from Logan West Virginia who was working at the bait store down the road from our house. The house was being foreclosed on and it was only a matter of time before my dad and I didn't have anywhere to go. He was in the middle of a lawsuit against Pepsi for his disability benefits, and he was broke. I started off my eighth grade year with the few clothes kim bought me, and living in an apartment with my sister Angie across the street from my middle school. Eventually in November Kim somehow managed to buy a trailer on her Bait Shop salary, and we all moved into it. The Bolles Harbor house was gone.
I was devastated, I went from our crazy five bedroom house on the beach, to a trailer. I made different friends out there though and drifted from the preppy kids to the punk kids, and it's where I stayed. That April my dad's settlement from Pepsi finally came through and we were living the good life once again. We took trips, and I got to invite my best friend Danielle, we had nice things, but we never moved out of the trailer and I was okay with that. It was home now.
My was chill about the things I did. I was his youngest and he always told me he made a promise to my mom to make sure I got to be 18 and to keep me happy. So he did, he let me live my life, dye my hair blue and party when I wanted to. I never really got out of control though, I dabbled in pills, and pot, and the occasional hallucinogen but have long since put the drugs to rest. I had the best friends through high school, and even though we were crazy 15 year olds, we all seem to have turned out well.
When I turned 18, in the spring of 2007 I moved in with my sister Angie. She had a tiny situation and I spent a lot of that time taking care of my god son and nephew Jayden. Dad would come and visit, but not often because you had to walk up three flights of stairs and he was usually too drunk to make it. But when he did come, the hilarity was a sure thing. He was the funniest man you could ever imagine. He even made one year old Jayden laugh.
Living with Angie was good while it lasted but a year later in the spring of 2008, we both decided it was time to move on and she needed to be with her new little family. So I moved back in with Dad and Kim and things we're good. Money was a little tight by this point, but it didn't matter. I spent that summer with them, and I am forever grateful that I did. In September my sister Holly bought a house and asked if I wanted to come live with her. She lived about 40 minutes away from my dad and my friends, so it was a tough decision but one I ultimately accepted.
I spent the next year seeing my dad only about once or twice a month, though sometimes for a few days at a time. We got phone calls, and a few of them were grim toward the end of 2008. Kim would call and say they were both really sick. I never really took them seriously though, and I don't know why. Maybe it was because my whole life I knew my dad was a story teller and a hypochondriac, just like me. On The Fourth of July 2009 we all gathered at my dad's trailer to have a get together, everyone was there. It was really lovely until Kim said she felt awful and needed to go to the hospital. She apparently had not been kidding when she told me how sick she was. On July 22nd after two weeks of being hospitalized she passed away, and was finally with her daughter Kristina, who had died in 2006. There was no funeral, and her mother treated my dad very poorly. That's what comes with grief though, people do not act like they should. I think the fact that none of us ever got to say goodbye made things easier, or perhaps harder. It depends on how you look at it.
So for the next two months my dad was alone, not truly alone because my brother's Ollie and Tony still lived in Monroe. Joe had moved four hours away shortly after Kim's death. Sometime in late August we got a call from U of M hospital saying our dad had been taken there. Apparently he wasn't feeling well. They ran some test and gave him special diet instructions and sent him home. A few weeks later at the beginning of September he wasn't answering his phone. My sister Angie took a drive to Monroe to find him laying on the couch as though he hadn't moved in days. We packed up his things and I drove him straight to St. Joe's hospital down the road from our house. The doctor there told us if he didn't get a liver transplant within 24 hours he was going to die. That doctor sent us to U of M where we got the news that he had liver cancer, (a fat that he conviently didn't tell anyone about) that had multiplied by thousands in the few weeks since he was last there. The cancer was streaming off into his blood causing cell cancer. The liver failure was causing my dad a lot of confusing and he didn't really understand what was going on, hence the reason he didn't leave his couch for days. The doctors told us the best thing we could do for him is take him home and let him pass comfortably.
So on September 17th, an ambulance brought him to Holly's house and Hospice of Ann Arbor set up shop in the living room. Many of his brother's and sisters came in from Georgia and Florida to be with him in his last days. On the 18th, after realizing that all of the kids had seen him but Joe, I made the four hour drive to Prescott Michigan with Danielle to pick him up. We didn't get back until about 9pm. Joe sat by his side every second that he was here. In the middle of the night it was apparent that things were taking a turn for the worse so we called a Hospice nurse and not long after she was here my dad passed away at 4:25am, but not without a fight. Just moments before he passed I walked out of the room because I really didn't think it was going to happen, I thought he was just having a fit. I made it to my kitchen sink when I heard a blood curtailing scream come from my sister Angie and my Aunt Judy told me I needed to get in there, but it was too late. He was already gone. I believe in my heart that he wanted it that way, he didn't want me to see the look that is still haunting my sisters to this day. He saved me from that, and I am forever grateful.
It's been 114 days - 16 weeks since the end. Sixteen Fridays have passed, I've seen 4:25am 114 times and never once does it get easier. Never once do I think "Wow, I didn't think about Dad today." He is an ever present force in my life. Even though he wasn't perfect, he was perfect for me. I wouldn't be the person I am without him. I wouldn't be able to be sarcastic, or tell ridiculous jokes. I wouldn't know how to cook, or know that I can't become an alcoholic because it will kill me. (Really, I probably wouldn't know that.) Most of all I wouldn't know how to never give up on people, or myself. My dad was heartbroken from the very moment my mother died, and it never got easier for him. I would catch him weeping in his favorite chair at the kitchen table in the middle of the night. Through all of this, he never waved a white flag, because he knew we needed him, that Kim needed him. He didn't give up on anything. Even when the doctors told him of his cancer through his dementia he said "We're going to fight it, it'll be fine." In the end though, his body wouldn't let him fight anymore. But I think he knew that he raised us to be a tight knit little community. We have each other. Three boys, and three girls who are nothing alike and have absolutely nothing in common, yet we are one.
We are one because of him.
Here we are, 114 days later - back at the beginning because the end has to stop somewhere. It can not just keep going on forever because eventually it would engulf us. We have to live, because that is what he wanted to do. If he can live through us, then he can live forever.
In Memory of Ollie Warren Wright Jr.
August 15th, 1953 - September 19th, 2009