Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hi, I'm Amelia, and These are NOT my Parents.

I seem to remember a moment in high school when I was at a solo and ensemble event, and a judge was talking to me about a wonderful performance, and they asked if Uncle Dave and Aunt Debbie were my parents. Not knowing what they would want to say, and I'm sure they were unsure of what I thought of them at this point of my life, an awkward silence ensued. At one point, I looked at the judge and said they were my aunt and uncle.

See, in essence, I no longer have parents. See, there is a story behind each of my parents leaving my life and both are full of much heartache and have caused me to grow up much before the time I was supposed to grow up. You can say that I lost my innocence a little due to the circumstances that my parents flitted in and out of my life. I will make this clear, though Uncle Dave and Aunt Debbie took me into their home for pretty much 5 years of my life, they will not now, nor will they ever be my parents. I will never call them mom or dad, and I won't think of them that way. See, my parents were a part of my life I won't forget. Though both left my life in completely difference circumstances, they still left something with me I'll always remember. 

You may ask why I am even writing this post this morning. Why talk about things that most people would try to put behind them? Well, for one, this is one of the ways I work through things. I write it all out. And for another, I know there are several people who actually read this blog who still don't understand my feelings on the deaths of my parents, and I feel as if they need to understand. There was a lot of mystery around both of their deaths in my family, and I don't even think they know as much as I know. But here goes.

The Secret

My father messed up. He messed up horribly. In a fit of rage, he landed himself in prison for most of my childhood. At that point, my mother separated with him and we saw him every so often in trips down to the prison and weekly phone calls. That was my childhood. Therapy for the actions her committed right in front of my young eyes (and yes, I do remember that day pretty clearly still), school and trips down to Jackson to see him every so often. He called once a week, talked to my brother and I. He sent cards on holidays. That was how my relationship with my father went for years.

When he was released from prison, he moved to Florida to live with relatives. The calls slowed and eventually the cards stopped. The last time I saw my father alive was in August 2004. He paid for my brother and I to come down to see him in Florida. I was angry at him for not being a part of my life that I admit that I used him. He tried really hard, and bought me things. In essence, he was trying to buy my love. I regret having him do that for me, but at the time, 13 years old and angry that I didn't have a normal life, I thought it was okay. We all make mistakes.

After that, I heard very little from my father. Mom passed away later that year and the last time I talked to my father was in November 2005, when out of the blue he called to talk to me. We hadn't talked since before mom's death and I didn't know what to take of this phone call. I didn't know what to talk about anymore with the man. It ended awkwardly.

And that was it. For years I thought my father was dead. I knew that he was sick at one point. In one call from a case worker, I was told he was sick in Detroit. One phone call I'm sure Uncle Dave never knew that I picked up. But I thought he passed after that. No one ever told me for sure. Uncle Dave gruffly mentioned my father's worsening sickness on our way to school one morning and gave me pretty much nothing to go off of. I didn't ask questions, I had been told by Uncle Dave and Aunt Debbie that my father was a horrible man. One of the threats Aunt Debbie always held over my head when she was yelling at me was, "you're lazy, like your father," or "do you want to end up like your father because that's right where you're headed."

I heard little about him since that December in high school that we received the call....until this past March. Out of the blue, my Aunt Shirley (dad's sister-in-law) finds me on Facebook and sent me a message saying she was trying to get in contact with me and my brother and left a phone number. So I called her back as fast as I could get to the phone, and she told me the news. My father had died. I knew this was coming, I just didn't expect how much it would effect me and the nightmare that would hold for the next few days of secrets being released from all over my family.

You think of a family as people who will share you their secrets, who will tell you important things in your life. You would never expect them to keep something like your father's passing from you for so long. 

Anyway....so I post a status on Facebook saying that I knew my father had passed, may he rest in peace, etc. and those family members that had been holding it came right out of the woodwork. This is probably one of the most painful moments of this past year. So according to the Aunt Shirley, he passed away in December 2010 and she wanted my brother and my permission to cremate him and lay him to rest with my grandparents. After I calmed down, I was okay with this, it was the right decision for the situation and I told her that though I couldn't pay for any of it, I will sign the papers so that she had the ability to do it herself. It was Aunt Linda who first contacted me about it. In essence we got to talking on Facebook about it and she said in the chat that she had known at Thanksgiving the past year but didn't want to ruin my good time with the news, and that he passed on October 15th.

This sent me in another tizzy, because here was my aunt telling me that she didn't want to ruin the holidays (which are already still ruined for me...but I'll talk about that later) for me but I had the RIGHT to know that my father had died, he was my father. So I cried it out for a little while longer.

At this time I was bitter with them but I put it aside for a couple days. The Wednesday after that (2 days later) I was online again and Aunt Rosalie pops on and starts talking to me. Remember during all this, I "knew" that his body was being stored in cold storage in Detroit and that no body had stepped forward to do anything about it. Aunt Rosalie and I get talking and in the end, I learn that he hadn't passed away in 2010. No actually, my father passed away in early 2009 and at this point he has been stored in Detroit for 2 years. At this point I was livid. If all the family members knew he had passed, why didn't they let the Moore side know about it (because Aunt Shirley had only recently found out) if they didn't want to do anything about it. I KNOW my father messed up his life, but he paid for what he did, and no matter what he did, he deserved to be buried in the ground.

So once again, I was set off in a whirlwind of emotions. For one, it was kept from me for 2 years, two years where I was of age (over 18) and could have contacted other side of the family members to get things done. For another, no one deserves to be left there like they left him. NO ONE. 

The last of the aunt's to discuss this with me was Aunt Anne. I don't blame her, or actually any of the aunts for this, but it doesn't mean I was angry. She finalized that the date of his death was March 15, 2009. We also discussed why I was never told. According to her, they all (Uncle Dave, Aunt Linda, Anne, Jane, etc) discussed what to do when they found out and decided that Aunt Linda would tell my brother and Uncle Dave would tell me. Now, at that time, I was no longer living at Uncle Dave's house. I want to put this out there that even though he was set on the task to tell me, he never called me to even ask me to come over to discuss an important matter, he never called me to let me know anything. While my brother knew everything, I was left in the dark. All the aunts thought I knew since naturally Aunt Linda told Josh pretty quickly. I never knew until March 21, 2011; just past 2 years of his passing.

It was a secret that never needed to be kept. According to what I later learned, my father spent about the last year of his life on life support before passing away from multiple organ failure. He was living off the state. They thought that I would want to try to take him in if I knew...but they didn't think I was smart enough to know that I didn't have the resources to care for someone who was on constant life support. But I guess according to Uncle Dave, I wasn't "mature" enough to handle these matters. Am I mature enough now, as I deal with a secret that didn't need to be kept? Did you think you were protecting me? I was always curious, he was my father and at one point in my life, I loved him dearly, and you thought I wouldn't ever wonder if he was biding his time out there. What about when I was getting married? If he was alive, I would want him to be there. He was my father no matter what. But, the grief process over him was prolonged and given more pain than it needed to.

This is how I lost my father, someone I never knew.

The reason I will always dislike the holiday season.

I don't blame my mother for ruining the holiday season for me, it isn't her fault that it was the time she got sick. It wasn't her fault that she got sick in general. The woman was a saint and she didn't deserve anything she got at the end of her life.

Rewind back to late 2004. I was a freshman in high school, I had just turned 14, and I knew my mother was going to die. I don't think a lot of people knew that I knew, but you know how you see someone and you have a feeling they don't have a long time left, I felt that way when I went to see my mother in the hospital on my birthday that year. I didn't think she had much longer to live. It wasn't long after that when she stopped working at Lesley Elisabeth because she was too ill. After Thanksgiving, I remember her being so sick, and even throwing up several times on the trip home from Aunt Linda's. Not long after that, she spent her days at home.

And when Christmas break rolled around, I became my mother's caretaker. I had done it all my life since the moment she got sick. I stepped up and cooked, I tried to clean (but wasn't very good at it...) and I took care of her as much as I could. It's what I did. But I was also a young teenager, I shouldn't have had to carry that burden at that age.

But I did. I was always 3 steps behind her no matter where she went. I did everything I could for her to make her life easier. So when she was bedridden in December 2004, it's what I did. I helped her in and out of bed, I made her meals and I tried my hardest to give her her Christmas present she wanted, a clean house. I had little help from my brother at this time, he was always down at Ryan's house down the road. It was just me and mom in the house all the time.

I tried my hardest, you have no idea. Remember, I was FOURTEEN years old. When the phone calls started rolling in telling me I wasn't doing enough, I about broke. Those who were telling me this didn't see what I did for her. They weren't there to watch their mother dying in front of their eyes. My mother had a lot of pride, and wouldn't ask for help, which left me there trying to do everything that some adults can't even handle. I remember that year because we didn't have a tree up at all, not even the small one that we had the year before. Our Christmas present was a VISA gift card and that was it. On Christmas morning, I didn't open presents, I just got up and made breakfast for mom like normal. 

At the family Christmas party that year, Aunt Linda also cornered me and said I was being selfish and not caring for my mother well enough. I was just trying to deal with the emotions that were going on at the time. I was over my head. I just didn't know how to tell them this. That night Molly came over and it was about the only reprieve that I had from the whole situation. I remember the next morning, mom told me to take Molly into town on the GLTA and see a movie, so we did. Uncle Dave and Aunt Debbie came and took us to dinner afterwards. It was the first fun I had had in a long time.

But when I got home, my brother cornered me. When I was gone, mom tried to get up to go to the bathroom herself and had fallen. Luckily he had come home and found her. I still feel guilty for that moment. But I was FOURTEEN (and I will always say that) and well...I was in a situation that no 14 year old should be in. I wasn't qualified for what I did for my mother. I felt so alone. 

I remember calling my friend Courtney one night later that week and telling him I wanted to kill myself. I couldn't deal with the situation anymore, and he sat there on the phone and talked to me for over 3 hours as I cried like I never cried before. The next morning, family members were in the house preparing the plans for my brother and I and the trust fund and mom had an ambulance take her to the hospital later that morning.

The next couple days were a whirlwind. I remember seeing my mom in the hospital as she signed over guardianship....and she could barely hold the pen. My last words to her were "I love you mom." I heard the word hospice swirling around. I cried into Aunt Linda's shoulder outside her room one morning. 

One the afternoon of my mother's death, December 31, Aunt Debbie and I were shopping at Fashion Bug. After the trip, I remember her calling Uncle Dave back and saying, "Well that's really unfortunate. Okay, I'll let her know." When we got back to their house (and what would be my house for the next 5 years) she turned to me in the car and told me the news that my mother had passed away. 

I spent several hours in my cousin Kari's room crying. I had lost my mother, my rock, the person I talked to about everything. The world was so strange to me. Later we went down to Todd and Michelle's for the weekend. The next Monday was the funeral, packing it in as fast as we could so Josh and I missed as little school as possible. Over the next weeks, I was moved into a new house, with new family members, and nothing made sense. None of it. I later wanted to get out of it all, I didn't like living with my Aunt and Uncle. I didn't understand why all the shit had to happen to me.

Every year when I hear Christmas music, I start to turn inside. To say I am the most depressed around the holidays would be a truth. Every Thanksgiving, I think of mom when I go to Aunt Linda's. I can never forget her in the kitchen making pies. Every Christmas song I hear makes me cringe because I can never forget the memories of 2004 and how the holidays were a traumatic experience for me. While others were at parties and celebrating, I watched my mother slowly fade away before my eyes. I watched a strong woman, who used to take us on week long vacations hiking in the woods, become someone too weak to get out of bed. I watched the strongest person I'll ever know turn into someone I didn't even recognize. 

So, now whenever someone asks about my parents, I don't know what to say. Do I tell them they are deceased? Do I just nod and keep going? It hurts, because normally someone would go on and on about theirs, but it hurt to go on about them. Nights like last night, I find myself randomly crying because it hurts, it hurts pretty badly. I don't have parents. When I graduate college, they won't be there to hug me. They won't be "there" at my wedding, which puts me in a predicament of who to walk me down the aisle. Do I go alone? I can't just call them up and tell them about life.

But I do know they are always there, in spirit. it hurts to not have them here all the time, but you make due with what you have in life. I am strong because of what I have lost, but I am strong because of what I have gained as well. Life may have dealt me some shitty cards, but in the end, I feel like I've played them the best that I could considering the circumstances.

And I hope, in the end, that's all that I'm remembered for.
My father, brother and I.
Henry Moore: 2/29/48-3/19/2009

My mother, brother and I.
Catherine (Proulx) Moore: 2/27/57-12/31/2004
The Music:
1. Free Bird- Lynyrd Skynyrd
2. The Funeral- Band of Horses
3. Heaven Forbid- The Fray
4. Songs from the Wood- Jethro Tull
5. My Party- Kings of Leon
6. Is There a Ghost- Band of Horses
7. Break the Spell- Daughtry
8. Hurts Like Heaven- Coldplay
9. The Suffering- Coheed and Cambria
10. Just Stay Here Tonight- Augustana
11. Happy X-Mas (War is Over)-  The Fray


  1. You are my hero, Amelia. Whenever life starts getting me down, I think about your incredible, superhuman strength and the fact that despite going through more in 21 years than ANYONE should have to go through in a lifetime, you are still kicking. You are still working to make your life a thing of beauty rather than the dark pit of despair that it would render almost any other person on the planet. You are my inspiration. Hang in there. In the end, all will be justly rewarded.

  2. You make me cry Amelia. No one could understand why this could happen to anyone.
    I still can't understand how some people can have their parents until they are 65 and you loose yours at such a young age. No one knew what to do or say. I don't think any of us knew that your father was in the morgue that long. You were young and had been through so much.
    I am sorry Amelia. I can remember that your father was a very good man when you were very young. He loved you both so much. I don't know what happened that he changed. It's hard to figure out how people or things could have been any different. You were doing so well in school and no one wanted for you to have to leave Lapeer East. It was hard for everyone....
    I love you Amelia and I will be there at your graduation and wedding. And I will know that your mother and father will be there in spirit too. Aunt Rosalie