A week has passed since my difficult child-dad died and I'm doing better, tapering down the tears from every fifteen minutes to every fifteen hours, give or take. As many of you have said and/or experienced for yourselves, the loss of someone we both love and dislike brings out a multitude of mixed feelings. Even if we've managed to detach from the destructiveness that surrounds that person, there is always a hole in us created by the missing relationship we've always longed and hoped for. And in death, the realization that the hole can never be filled hits you hard. Remembering the "bad" stuff is easy, remembering the "good" stuff is painful because there just wasn't enough of it. My mom and I agreed that there would be no "public" memorial, and the very brief obituary printed in the local paper, stating only his name, age, city of residence and date of death was sufficient for a man who had no real friends and only a handful of acquaintences. The day after the obit ran, my mom got a phone call from one of my dad's co-workers who'd seen the notice in the paper and was in a state of shock over the news. No one realized how sick he'd been even several years ago when he was still contracting at that facility. When my mom shared the specifics of his lung problems, the caller remembered times when he'd see my dad just sitting on a hallway bench for no apparent reason (he couldn't breathe and was trying to catch his breath). Dad did not want anyone to know he had anything wrong with him and would devise all sorts of pretenses and covers so that no one would know he was struggling. Just another example of the fear he lived with daily. My mom is doing pretty well, all things considered. She seems relieved that his suffering has ended, and her spirits seem lighter with the responsibility for his care now gone. There is some bitterness, though. Especially when she discovered some secret funds he had hidden from her that would have allowed her to stop working years ago. But all this time she had scrimped and saved and worked to cover "her" expenses because my difficult child-dad would not help her pay for things like her car, or clothing or any incidentals. He begrudgingly gave her money each month to cover groceries, the mortgage payment and utilities, but that was about it. She worried about getting called in to work as a substitute aide for disabled kids so she could get enough hours in. I am relieved for my mom and happy that she can spend the remainder of her days living a fuller and hopefully more joyful life. We have started the process of sorting through the junk my dad has hoarded over the years. First to go are the boxes and boxes of unworn clothing that still has tags. I'll be helping her sell whatever we can on eBay first, then her neighborhood garage sale, then whatever's left will go to charity. Then there is all the unused office supplies he's amassed. The computer equipment my brother will have to sort through. Boxes and boxes of magazines he had saved so that he could scan them all into his computer (including the ones he'd already scanned and never discarded!), thousands of dvd's and cd's he created, hours and hours of audio tapes of his doctor appointments he recorded (in secret), dozens of daily medical and "life" journals and files he kept (tracking everything from his bowel habits and urine output to the time of day my mom left the house and returned and dollar amounts he gave her each week), tools, jewelry making equipment and supplies, photography equipment, books, guns, hardware and miscellaneous building materials, boxes of stockpiled medications that have expired, and who knows how many other surprise caches of "stuff." It's going to take a long time, but we'll help her chip away at it whenever she's ready. Once she gets all the financial affairs settled I think she's going to travel a bit this fall: go visit some of her extended family in Iowa who are getting on in years, hit some fall dog shows in the east, maybe visit my dad's niece in Oklahoma. She spent more than 2/3 of her life so far catering to my dad because of her own codependent issues. It's finally her time to live the way she wants.