So….. as my aunt is driving us down the road and my mother is crying and banging her head on the dash of the car, the other man is seen walking down the street. Coincidence? Who knows, who cares, it happened. At this point in time, no one realized my father had walked through the front door and put a gun to his head. A mad dash to the airport ensued. As we were waiting in the airport ticket area, the police arrived to tell us my father was dead. I don’t remember how it happened but my next flashback is of being back in the yard of my aunt. I looked toward the back door of her house and see the other man leaning against the door frame sobbing. My mother had a complete breakdown and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. My siblings and I were loaded into our family station wagon and my Uncle proceeded to drive across several states so we could live with another aunt until my mother could recover. My only memory of driving across multiple states was of my uncle pulling off the road to fix us bologna sandwiches. I was confused and afraid and all I could do was cry because he put mayonnaise on my sandwich and I didn’t like mayonnaise and I was too afraid to tell him. I didn’t lose just my father that day, but also my mother. My father’s suicide and how the aftermath was handled, shaped my whole life.
Even though I do not blame my mother for the suicide of my father, I do want to add that I think she, as a parent, handled it very poorly. I suppose it goes along with the the time period of people not talking about unpleasant things and counseling was taboo and a sign of weakness. I want to say that she did the best she could but I don’t really believe it. So, to be honest, I wish she would have taken me to counseling. I wish she would have said something positive about my father, just once, in all the years that followed. You see, the only words she said were to make him out to be a horrible monster, and that horrible monster was a part of me. So, in turn, I felt this constant struggle of the part horrible monster being in my DNA but I loved him and missed him and had no one to talk to about it.
Fifty years later, and after finally getting some counseling for myself, I finally told my mother that if she said anything negative about him again that I would walk out. I didn’t want to hear it anymore. She said “I thought you always blamed me” and I told her that I never blamed her. Fifty years too late but she has not said a word since. Fifty years!! Cuss words are not typically in my vocabulary but Fifty Fucking Years. For the love of God and all that is Holy, surviving spouses of suicide, please get yourself and your children some professional help. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. Don’t wait fifty years. Do it today.