Edward Scissorhands

19 08 2014

That was the night of the “Great Photo Massacre”. With the girls well asleep, I sat in the middle of my king-sized bed, surrounded by photo albums, and with the dexterous hands of a surgeon, armed with my steel bladed scissors I began the surgical removal of Mort.

I did make the decision not to violate the girls visual memories of him, choosing not to destroy the photos of him from when they were born. I thought that was crossing the line and might be something that would come back to bite me later. The way things were going these photos would be the only memory that they had of him and they could make their own decisions to keep or destroy when they got older. (*)

Anything pre-children however, that was my space, my relationship and my visual reminders.

Michelle called me in the middle of the operation and when I told her that I was chopping up old photos she said, “oh my god don’t do that, you looked fabulous.” I quickly reassured her, “Oh, don’t worry, I’m not cutting the whole photo up, I’m just chopping him out.”

At the end of the three-hour frenzy there lay one pile with hundreds of photos with neat little holes in them, in another pile were the amputated pieces of Mort. I swept up the body parts and put them in a plastic bag with the remnants of the kitty litter box. Tying up the bag the last thing I saw was hundreds of his severed little faces looking up while sitting on top of nuggets of cat shit. It was a true Kodak moment.

(*) I converted some VHS to DVD’s of when the girls were young. Watching the footage you can see in the early stages of the montage how Mort was holding the camera, but then over the years he just became a pair of pyjama pants that wandered through the background every now and then. He had amputated himself from his life.


I’ll be right there

13 08 2014

On the 2 March, 11 days after he was admitted, I received the phone call. Given the reports of how he was doing in Rehab it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but it did literally take my breath away. Mort called, drunk, and simply said slurred, “I’ve been kicked out”. I remember I just started screaming at the phone “what did you do”? Simple scenario, he went to the bottleshop, bought vodka, got drunk and tried to smuggle it back into the Rehab unnoticed. Sure, like no one had tried that before and the zero tolerance policy was deployed.

Somewhere in there my screeches of “what did you do” became “what have you done” and I hung up. This is where I lost my shit. I went into deep uncontrollable hyperventilation. Not crying, just not breathing. Or way too much breathing. The next immediate call was to my dad…he said “I’ll be right there” before I could even speak properly.

As I lay prone (so I didn’t pass out) on the sofa waiting for my dad to don his superhero cape and fly over I realised that my query about “what have you done” was the crystal realisation that he was no longer going to be a dad to two amazing girls. Rehab was his chance to come out with some sort of an opportunity to be some sort of a dad (not one living in the same house of course). And he had blown that. He couldn’t get his crap together to be a part of the girls lives. Here I was in this state, and I had my dad’s words floating in my head, “I’ll be right there”. I knew that my girls would never hear that from their dad. He would only ever have those words for the next Happy Hour. That was the part that made me volcanic with anger.

Photo credit: www.etsy.com

Photo credit: http://www.etsy.com

Ugly curtains

11 08 2014

After the first few days in the Rehab, Mort was allowed to have visitors. All the husbands of our schoolie friends visited him several times. There was an alarming similarity in the recount of their visits and the line of conversation. Firstly Mort talked incessantly about the minutia of things. Discussing in detail the meal that he was served at breakfast and the watercolour class that he did. One of his favourite topics was to prattle on about how hideous the d├ęcor was, especially the garish curtains. Given his surroundings, it was beyond astounding to all that he could put so much thought into the window furnishings.

The second thing that was prevalent in all the visits was the fact that he was fixated with the notion that I would take him back. He would pose the questions aloud, almost as an affirmation to himself, “Ripley will take me back won’t she….Do you think there is a chance for me and Ripley….Maybe you could talk to her and tell her to take me back.” Tied in with this obsession was the clear lack of any sort of acknowledgment of Maddie and Clare; how they were feeling, how they were coping….nothing. This was heart breaking to the other fathers who have tremendous relationships with their children. Even when they tried to steer the conversation to the girls mentioning their school or sport, he would not even flinch and the conversation would snap back to me or the ugly curtains.

And therein the most obvious omission of topic of conversation was the fact that he was in Rehab because he was an alcoholic. He never once acknowledged that to anyone.


Decidedly unpleasant

5 08 2014

A series of things happened over the next few days. Most of them decidedly unpleasant.

The girls and I went to the local cattery and picked out two of the furriest cats that they had, brought them home and started loving them instantly. To this day I am not sure which way the love is the deepest, cats to the girls or girls to the cats. Either way, it is fabulous. (majorly pleasant thing…it goes downhill from here).

First decidedly unpleasant thing and one that I knew was coming but had me hyperventilating anyway, no salary payment came in that month. Frankly I was stunned that it had held out as long as it did, but it was official now, no household income.

The next round of decidedly unpleasant came from several phone calls to close friends and family in Mort’s home country.

The most heart wrenching to his best friend (and best man at our wedding), Bob, and his divine wife, Tanya, whom I had also developed a close relationship with. I did not hold back on the gritty details. Bob’s comments oscillated between “I can’t believe it”, and “I don’t understand”. Two perfectly valid feelings from someone who had been Mort’s best friend since the fifth grade. Bob was recalling snippets of times that they would get together and party throughout the years. Sure everyone has their moments of stupid drunken antics in their twenties/thirties but he could not fathom that this had gone past the frivolous (often short-lived and long regretted) moments of intoxication into the deep dark place of losing your grip on reality….and your life. Tanya was on the other line and she sobbed….non-stop. It was like a sound track to the conversation. Every now and then she would interject with “I am so sorry”. She cried for me, she cried for Mort, but I think most of all, as a mother she cried for my girls.

While that conversation left me empty and exhausted, the next one left me angry and hard. The next call was with his father. I had not spoken with him over the last few months. I had left the management of the trickle of information to Linda who knew how best to deal with him.

While I gave him an update on Mort’s admission to the rehab he interrupted to say that he heard that I had gotten cats. Knowing that Mort was horribly allergic to cats he took this to mean that Mort was not coming back to the house. Got that right. (It also cued me that Mort had been phoning him from the rehab centre, no doubt launching his twisted version of the tale). Mort’s father is also allergic to cats and I could tell by his tone that he somehow took it as a personal affront that I would put cats in my home.

The call was lengthy, slippery and twisted. I felt like a snake charmer, trying to gently coax him though I couldn’t read his reactions or motives. I was trying to be calm with him, soothe him but he wanted to strike….to blame someone…someone had to take his venom and anger. The final lunge came when he stated that Maddie and Clare would be removed from his will (mind you we had never seen a penny of this fortune). Well sure, that made sense, clearly this was all their fault right?