Jan 17, 2013 - 3:54 pm
Today is a momentous occasion…Today is a victory in my life…Today represents me standing alone at the top of the pinnacle…after a year long climb up some of the most treacherous and jagged terrain I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across.
This is not a story about Cancer…
For me, this is a Tale of Redemption…
It’s the story of how one can run, seemingly for a lifetime…only to find one day, that you were only “Running in Place”…and never really putting any distance between you and the problem itself.
It’s the story of how one can stand up to Adversity…how one can battle seeming overpowering odds…how one can battle the Adopted Daughter, who had her hand in my dad’s till and was working to gain control of the estate with either POA or through Guardianship…
It’s the story of how one can overcome prejudice from his dad’s friends…and even an entire church congregation…based on the false witness that my dad told the people in his life….none of which were even true.
It’s the story of being a newbie to the world of lawyers, probate court, estate probate, estate liquidation, and other estate business…plus a litany of things I had to figure out, starting from saving the estate from being taken by the State of Texas itself.
Mostly, it’s a story of what should have been…and it’s a tale of the darkest side of our Human Nature, that I’ve ever bared witness too…it’s the dark side of our natures that I despise so deeply.
And I saw it all the way…up and down the entire line…and the view wasn’t very pretty.
We’re getting close to the point now, where this will become a story of What Was…
And then, we can begin to write the new story for me of What Will Be?
When all of this got started at the beginning of last year, I wrote in a post, that I expected no Personal Growth for myself with this chapter of my life
How could I?
Suddenly, I was confronted by all of my old house guests from my past…the folks I had been running away from for most of my 50 years…you’re familiar with them…they run in some of your families too…Anger, Bitterness, Resentment, and Betrayal.
In the end, I would find out that his life had been a LIE. And many of his friends found out at the very end of it….some of it I shattered, because I was tired of enabling him…and other truths emerged as his folks saw the REAL person while they visited him in the hospital.
I witnessed some of that…and he was the meanest thing to his friends who came up to see him….he was very mean and angry with me on too many nights.
The more I dug through his life…the more upset I got. He did not handle his life the way he perpetrated it to be. He buffaloed me through fear and intimidation his whole life…since nobody could ever challenge…he held onto “The Illusion of Control.”
Only at the end, did I see none of that….only false pride and bluster…unable to ask me ever for any help…for reasons that are between him and the Lord….he told all of friends to NOT TELL ME for 3 DAYS what had happened - and where he was.
I don’t know why.
All my life, even into late adulthood, he always told me, “You’re not worthy enough to carry the name of Harrison."
Now, when I look at it…I think it’s the other way around…he got it backwards:(
He used to inspire me and ‘grow me up’ with such phrases as:
And the big one (that he used when he really wanted to insult you)…
“You need to change your name to X….” (insert mom’s maiden name for X).
What kind of bully beats up on his ‘planned’ son?
I guess that’s really what it was…just bullying…through fear and intimidation…through verbal and mental abuse…and if that didn’t work….we’d break out the razor strap and school me…and in later years, boots for kicking you up the stairs and hitting you like a grown man that you weren’t at 12-13 years of age.
I’ve not shed one tear…and after all of this…I doubt that I ever will…I don’t think I even can….that part of me died long ago…
So, he’s gone…and all of his stuff is gone now too…I’ve dissolved him, piece by painstaking piece…we finally cleared the house….took us 7-months….
We threw out over 400 contractor sized bags of trash….we set out pile after pile of stuff by the curb for the pickers or the trash man…the pickers picked and picked some more….we had multiple picker and junk man teams circling the house like vultures…
They were passing out business cards…and running morning and evening shifts stopping by…rooting around and looking for treasure amongst the debris.
I took 3 full pickup loads of chemicals to the recycling plant…front to back…top to bottom….paints, solvents, glues, fertilizer, etc…you name it…irony of this story, was that dad never did any handywork…
He had over 40 quarts of motor oil…some dating back to the 70’s…a couple with labels even I couldn’t remember.
Dad kept every check and bank statement….from every bank he used….dating as far back as 1958…we had to call a Shredder/Recycler service to come out to his house to pick it all up and shred it…we filled up a 100-GALLON bin….and later found more stuff to shred…and had to take it home to store at our house….we’ve got mile high pile of his papers now at our house:(
We boxed up over 30-cases of boxes….18 cases were religious books, including 32 Bibles at last count…I took them down to Dad’s church and donated them to the church library so they could be used.
Even told the pastor to say that “Dad is still giving to the church – even after he’s gone.” Still taking care of his name with all that had gone on….
We gave up EVERY vacation day last year to work on Dad’s life…we worked every weekend…a lot of the days at the end were 20-hour days…..so we didn’t sleep….didn’t eat….but still found the strength to and gritch at one another…
But, we were simply acting out from the pressure we were under…and having to do all of this for a man who did not love us….lied to us…and left us with nothing but a big old mess.
I told Kim, “Dad wants us divorced…nothing would make him happier.”
And that’s true…I’m sure he would have delighted into knowing we were in each other’s grills….over him. Would have been giddy if we had broken up over this.
“I’ll make you work for it”…were some of his famous last words.
He divorced 3x…and was always envious that Kim and I stayed together…through thick and thin. He told me he never liked her and did not approve of her.
But, he approved enough for her to “Take the Burden Off of Him” through her care of me while I was sick off and on.
When I was born, he told me I was “Planned” – when he saw me so sick with cancer the last time, my status was downgraded to “Burden.”
Nothing like being a “Planned Burden.”
What a guy…what an inspiration…what a teacher…what a nurturer…what a mentor…what a father….
I want you to do me a favor…
When you’re done with this post…go into my Expressions…on the last page, there is a picture called Baby Craig. It’s one of my favorite pictures:)
Take a close look at that little boy…stare into those inquisitive, beautiful, hazel eyes for a moment or two…and tell me…what do you see?
I see a young boy, who was full of life…full of fun…full of adventure….full of energy…full of wonderment…full of hope…full of curiosity…and full of questions.
Some of you might say…”Full of $hit.”
LOL! Guess, you wouldn’t be too far off from the truth:)
As John Lennon so famously sang…”All he needed…was Love.”
From the distance now, what I see is an innocence lost…what I see is this big, beautiful smile that Baby Craig had….but that wasn’t good enough for either of my parents….or the world in general, as it would turn out.
And folks have been trying to slap the smile right off my face ever since…
For decades, the world and everyone got their wish…got what they wanted…BUT cancer changed all of that for me…and for you….
It knocked down the walls I had built and imprisoned myself with…it unlocked the key I used to protect my inner self…and unshackled from those chains, I began to grow in ways I could never envison….right here on CSN…right here with you.
So, I pose the question to you…”What was there in that picture that Dad didn’t care for?”
Was he secretly jealous or envious of his own son?
Looking back on it now, I think it’s a multi-pronged answer…
I think that deep down he was jealous that I would have the childhood that he had been denied…
The problem always was that Dad demanded perfection out of me – but never put anything into me…he never supported my extra-curricular activities…never came to see me play sports…never listened when teachers told them I had aptitude in Writing and Music…
He just never had any interest in me as a person…much less as his son….I was just a trophy…the son of the big preacher man. I was left alone to go to my room and figure it all out…
I was ‘raised’ with some very hard rules and a strap right across my back…
Good luck…end of story.
How do you have a child and then care nothing about them….put nothing into them but clothes, food, and shelter…and then expect….no demand that you be all that you can be? And then take you to task if you can’t deliver?
And if somehow you did, well…it should have been sooner…not later:(
There was no way to end…and the criticism never ended....even at the end.
Janie1 got it right some posts back, when she commented that I grew up without role models….and that dad was a narcissist…mom was too….so there were two narcissists in the house…who were responsible for raising children.
Lucky us – for me and my sister, huh? We got 2 of the same kind out of the Cracker Jack box when we reached inside to pull out our prize:(
Where are you, Suzanne?
I so wish that you were standing here with me…I miss you…but know you’re doing something else right now…I miss you still…more than ever now…and I love you…I dreamed of a life together, me and you….growing old together, brother and sister.
I dreamed of the adult relationship to replace the missing childhood relationship that was taken from the both of us far too soon. I just wish you and I could have a big do-over.
I’m sorry that we had two incompetent, narcissistic parents, who did not know what to do with children…and that their ineptitude, inadvertently resulted in your murder….and a lifetime of struggle for me as I tried to figure it out on my own without any direction to help point me down the right path.
You would have been such a joy to the world…I just know it. I’ve loved few things in my life, because I’ve never know that kind of love…though I read about it and saw it in the movies. That was until I got here and started seeing real life love stories of families and spouses.
But, you, my dear sister, I did love and I did care about you…and I’m just so sorry it took me a lifetime to figure it all out…far too late for you, as it all turned out..
Perhaps, too late for me too…but I’ve got to keep going and see how far I can get. If there is a Heaven, then there is an opportunity I might get to hug you again…and see what a beautiful spirit you turned out to be.
Did Dad make it through The Pearly Gates?
I don’t see how he could…not with the way he lived his life…and the things he did. How could he preach scripture like that…and then do the exact opposite to his own family?
From what I’ve been studying about religion, the facts just don’t jive…allowing him in seems to be contradictory to the principles that are being taught.
If he did make it, then I’m not so sure I want to go to Heaven…because, it would seem like sheer hypocrisy…and I so can’t stand the hypocrite.
If he did make it, I’ll probably just hang out at the gate and wait for you…perhaps, we could press our hands together through the wrought iron…and connect one more time…like the way it should have been.
Then, I can turn around and go where ever it is I’m supposed to be next.
Did I ever tell you the story about me and Suzanne – and how we were going to be the next “Donny and Marie in the ‘70’s?”
Yeah:) I always thought we were better looking:) LOL!
Before the divorce, we were “The Rebels”…I sang…and Suzanne danced…she would wear this confederate cap and we would put on “shows.” She was so cute…she was about 6-7 then.
I know I’m all over the map…please stay with me…this is a harder post than I thought it would be when I first sat down.
I think my cancer story mirrors my real life story…because, I’ve always had to survive on my own – even as a child.
As Janie1 alluded to, I had no real role models…but I thought about it some…and in some way, I guess I actually did.
I looked to my heroes on TV in the early 60’s…at around 4-5, I would get up early on Saturday mornings…grab my blanket…apparently, I called it a “shive.” And I would go into the living room while my parents slept in, and turn on my cartoons…I knew what channel and what times they were all playing.
I learned early how to crawl up on a chair…and onto the counter…and grab a bowl and make myself cereal…you had to be resourceful in our house…because, you were on your own.
Prime Time TV was the best then, circa 1965-1966…I was 5-years old and grew up watching Captain Kirk fly the Enterprise around the galaxy…I watched Batman be the good guy…I saw Superman with super human strength…I saw Matt Dillon tame the West.
I grew up with Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson , Marshall Dillon, John Wayne, and Paul Newman, just to name a few.
I watched some of the biggest motion pictures in the history of cinema…as a very young boy.
I learned of the heavy storylines that were full of deep human drama of all kinds…war, chain gangs, prison life etc….anything to do with the human struggle always appealed to me…how one could take a beating and then overcome?
I guess I was being inspired at a very impressionable age.
I was raised to be a grownup…and as such, I went to all of the grown-up places…I blended nicely and the adults liked me…and I was well behaved.
I don’t think my parents understood that I understood what I saw on the big screens. They just thought I was a child.
As a 5 or 6 year old, I watched dramas like “The Blue Max”…”The Sand Pebbles”…”Cool Hand Luke”…”The Great Escape”…and ”The Dirty Dozen”….etc.
That was some pretty heavy duty stuff for a child this young to be exposed to…but I loved it…and I learned a lot about how people operate from my observations…I’ve been a student of human nature ever since.
As a 4-year old, I was even watching “Dr. Zhivago”…and explaining the story plot to my mother…that’s a true story:(
I didn’t grow up with Big Bird on Sesame Street:)…I didn’t live in Mr. Rogers neighborhood either.
I was keepin’ it real…long before real was real.
So, after decades of torment and fakery, it looks like I can begin to close the lid on this box now. This post is a part of that healing process.
A little over one year ago, this journey started…it has been a hard one in many different ways than any of my cancer fights…in a lot of ways, much harder….the sheer logistics of all of it were almost too much…and emotionally, there was a lot of action there.
A lot of bridges burned…and I settled a few scores along the way…in the end, a couple of folks got what was coming to ‘em.
It’s nothing I can’t live with….when it started, I went into this all gracious and wanting to do the right thing….all the way up and down the line….I handled business in good faith…and dad’s friends too…despite what they were trying to do to us.
As always, many folks don’t share the same ideology that I have….where a person’s word and honor is their name…
But, mostly, I did what Dad asked me to do…minus the headstone…if I ever get a few dollars, I’m taking a long awaited, and truly deserved vacation for the two of us…..not on a piece of rock out in a hayfield….I’m out of the “Memorializing Business.”
I went up against the Establishment and got my guts kicked in and my brains beat out…the game was rigged…all the odds were in the House’s favor….but we never gave up…I wouldn’t let us…I used my indomitable will to get us through…
And in the end, I’m the Survivor…”Outwit, Outlast, and Outplay.”
I beat a lot of people with OUTLAST…you don’t think I use the words Time and Patience without the sustenance to back it up, do you?
As Val Kilmer said in the movie Tombstone…”I play for blood, remember?”
And if you want to play…”I’m Your Huckleberry.”
So, it’s mostly out of my hands now…up to the realtor to do her thing…I’ve taken it as far as I can right now…we’re hoping for a quick sell…the utilities and the repairs have wrecked us…and the house taxes are due in just two weeks now, so we need to get out from under this mighty avalanche.
I always try and look for the Good in any Bad situation….and this chapter is no different.
And here’s what I come away with from this experience…
What I’ve said all along…the ability and resolve to turn, stand and fight Adversity, when others would have tucked tail and ran.
I empowered myself by confronting five decades worth of !@%^ that I knew I would have to face one day….I just never wanted to have to really do it.
I wanted to run away and drop everything…I remember many of you saying to me, “Walk Away.”
And I could have, I suppose….but then as I said in the beginning, that would have been a permanent chain around my neck and I would never really have the chance at finding some peace in this world.
I had to be able to live with it…had to do what I thought was the right thing to do…even at my own expense…those stupid code of ethics I try and live my life by and all of that…
I just need to sort of like the reflection that stares back at me in the mirror…it’s taken me 51-years to get close and understand this guy living within me…we understand one another now.
The fact is, I didn’t deserve two terrible parents…and having to grow up on my own…but as my boy, Phillie G likes to say…”I Played a Bad Hand Well…”
And that’s all that we can really do in this life…any of us…if we don’t we sucb to anger, bitterness and resentment…and we lose valuable time off our life clock trying to get these feelings out of our system.
I would have never thought that I would have the guts and courage to speak out about something like this…even though I’ve needed to all my life…a lot of my friends that I thought I would be talking to, are no longer here physically or by their own volition.
I’m grateful for the friends who have surrounded and supported me through this most difficult chapter of my life story. You’ve all been very important and have played a key role by allowing me to express myself in this forum…with or without cancer.
For that, I can’t begin to thank each of you enough.
What I’ve found interesting is how the HURT never really goes away…despite, how old we are…the feelings are still very strong…very powerful.
What happened here was that I had buried them through various techniques I’ve employed in my life to throw dirt on it and put it out of my mind.
The Day of Reckoning came and forced me to unearth all of these feelings….and you get what we’ve had thus far.
At first, I thought this was embarrassing to be a 50+ year man still commiserating over a life that up until Cancer, had been squandered. I felt ashamed for what I felt…and even more so, by confessing it all to you.
Here’s what I learned about that…
That feelings are feelings, good or bad, and they don’t evaporate over time. I know this, because I’ve read so much about grown women here…and even older women, who still “love their mommy.”
So, it dawned on me that if folks could have those kind of wonderful feelings for their mom or dad, that it could also be the reverse…that the bad feelings are equally, if not more intense, than the good ones.
I guess, ultimately, I just yearned for what most of you have….Love, Acceptance, and Validation.
As humans, those are the intrinsic values that we all want to share…I know there are some folks, like myself, who don’t always get what they deserve…
And that’s wrong…and their people are wrong…just as my people were…and are wrong now.
I stand for the downtrodden….I stand for the underdog….I fight for injustice…I fight for truth…I fight for those that can’t…and I always will.
I hate folks being mistreated…as I understand it all too well.
I’m grateful that we can talk about it…because TALK is the road to where HEALING begins…may we all heal through one another:)
And if we can’t…at least we won’t be lonely while we figure it out.
Winter Marie said something to me not too long ago that I thought was truly remarkable…it really steamrollered me…I’ve thought about it often.
I guess what got to me the most, was what she saw from what I’ve told all of you.
I’ll have to paraphrase, but it went a little something like this…
The post was much like this one…about how dad was bad and fkd me over and I was so blind with rage, that I couldn’t see straight….still cannot.
And she said something that really touched my heart…and it made me think of what impact, if any, that I may or may not make on someone when I talk to them.
Something about how even though Dad was bad to me, “That he had me – and for that, Winter was grateful that I was born.”
That’s some heavy Enlightenment from one of my star pupils:)
I still get choked up and order a tear when I think of what she said – and the way that she said it.
There will still be some stuff to do before I can cross every T and dot every I…much to learn still from the probate process and all of that.
But, for now, I’ve got this thing to a resting point…I’ve done my job…upheld my integrity and my name. I have no regrets about how I’ve handled things…I learned on the job and did the very best that I could…with little to no help, except Kim.
We could have used some help…but, we’re now even stronger than before. This was hard on our relationship and many unpleasant exchanges traded back and forth as the stress level pushed us to places we didn’t want to be…but had to be.
I crushed my enemies along the way like cheap, aluminum beer cans…I know how to fight, remember?
I didn’t want to be that way…but I’ve found that while I’ve changed…the world and most of its people have not…and they try and change you back…back to what you don’t want to be anymore….but you inevitable discover that from time to time, you have to don the cape and fight for your right.
Before I go…anybody else out there want some?
Are you sure?
Well, let me know if you change your mind:)
What’s the moral of this story?
Very simple really….”Don’t ever kick The Sleeping Lion – and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
What started out as Mission Impossible…has now been re-written and re-titled…
It seems that there is nothing that Sundance cannot overcome:)
We’ve all seen what this guy can do on his own – we can only imagine what he could do, if he had the proper backing behind him?
Scares me almost….
ADAPT and OVERCOME…those are our marching orders for 2013…and to be honest with you…for the rest of all our lives.
Thank you again – one and all – for all the love, support and friendship that you have given me through all of this during my time here.
Hip, Hip, Hoorah for the Semi;Colons!
A finer bunch there will never be…
From your front line reporter…on the firing lines…keepin’ it real…
BTW, now who's the baddest mother trucker that you know?