When my dad dies, there will be no funeral, obituary, or memorial -- per his request. He will be cremated, and his ashes will be scattered at sea by the Neptune Society. My mother, brother, and I won't even be on the boat that goes out to scatter them -- per my parents' request.
(Of course, that does not limit what I do, privately, to honor his life. A very appropriate plan has revealed itself to me in the last couple of weeks, and it will give me an opportunity to tie some important threads together and put some hard things to rest.)
When I told my childhood friend P about my parents' wishes, she said, "Your mother will not have a funeral or marker for your father...It's almost like your parents don't think they deserve to be here at all. They try to remain so anonomous and invisible. No bother, no needs.. almost like they do not exist."
This feeds into a phone conversation my dad and I had today.
Of course, I cancelled the trip to Boise. When I did so, I had to tell my cousin a little bit about why I wouldn't be able to come. She understood and wondered if she could bring her mother out to say goodbye to my dad. I told her I'd ask my parents the next time I saw them in person. I did that yesterday. I said, "No pressure, but J would really like to see dad."
Today my dad called to ask what he should do. Should he call his sister? Should he call his niece? Who the fuck is he supposed to call? What would his sister understand (she has some stroke-related dementia, and she has aphasia which makes impatient people like my father think she understands less than she really does)?
My dad had a complete tantrum on the phone with me -- angry that I told them anything about his health, angry about being put in a position to have a real conversation that might involve feelings, angry at having to admit the truth.
I said, "Dad, they love you..."
Get this... he said in snarly, sing-song voice, "Oh, well isn't that nice! Ugh." (Sort of like the Church Lady, actually -- really over the top.) It was as if it offended him that they would debase themselves enough to have feelings or attachments to him. And he felt inconvenienced to have to communicate directly and tell them he didn't want visitors.
There was so much there in that conversation.
He can't stand feelings. He does not honor the different relationships other people might have -- with him and with one another. Relationships inconvenience him. This is all about his privacy being invaded.
His sister has lost her husband and son this year, and now she is going to lose her only brother. Minor dementia or no, can't my father see that it would be a human thing for him to do to at least have a telephone conversation with his own sister?
Once I asked my therapist, "So what's wrong with my dad anyway? Does he just not care what happened or just not care about my life? Is he a narcissist?"
She told me that there is a narcissistic personality type that is somewhat different than when someone moves in and out of narcissistic behavior. She thinks that my dad is truly incapable of caring about anyone because -- on deep levels -- we don't exist as separate from him. Things work well, and he's happy when we're all moving around him to serve his needs. As soon as we do or think something independently, his rage comes out. (And I have the scars to prove that.)
That was a helpful conversation, and it lets me just watch some of what's going on right now without feeling too hurt or angry. It's almost amusing -- in a sad, sad way.
It's sort of like abject narcissism... and I think he fantasizes that he will just -poof!- and be out of here when he dies, and there will be no feelings or attachments left behind. No marker. No funeral. No obituary. Gone.