Guest Post: What is family?

31 Aug

In today’s guest post, Mama Simona from South Africa is posting about her father, her family and how she feels that sometimes death is the ultimate freedom.

Mama Simona with her family.

Mama Simona with her family.

My father died last week. Don’t be sad. His death is the best gift he ever gave his dysfunctional family! Let me explain.

I really, truly and deeply love my dad, despite (or maybe even because) of what he put all of us through when he was alive. Please don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad, in fact my best childhood memories are of times spent alone with him. He was the kind of dad who whispered stories made up of bunny rabbits, green meadows and rainbows in my ear (while I was tucked up in bed) in order to keep nightmares away. On the nights when the nightmares came anyway, he was the one who’d comfort me and then lead me into the kitchen for a “secret” midnight snack. Being his “co-conspirator” made me feel so special! He would protect me when mom got really angry. He was my hero and then I got older.

By the time I was around 9 years of age a blind mouse would have been able to detect the ever-widening cracks in my parent’s marriage. In fact my last, really good, childhood memory with my dad happened that year. It was obvious to me that Dad was away a lot and, even when he was home, he wasn’t really “present”. I still clearly remember that cloudy, wintry afternoon in Cape Town. Dad was sitting in his favourite armchair, but he was very far away. I went up to him and told him that I missed him. I’ll never forget the look on his face! It was as if I’d thrown a bucket of cold water on him! He looked at me without saying anything for a long minute. Then he said that I was right and that I should grab a jacket – the 2 of us were going out. I remember Mom shouting from the kitchen; “Where are you going?” to which Dad just answered; “Out with Simona” and we left before she could ask anything more. Remember no cell phones back then! I was so happy! I didn’t care where we were going, I had my dad all to myself, for the first time in a really long time. Dad drove to our favourite ice-cream parlour and bought us each a cone. Then we took a walk along the deserted beach nearby. The wind was really cold and here we were, side by side, eating ice-cream cones, just talking and walking along the beach with the backdrop of a grey and stormy sea. I didn’t know it at the time but that would be the last time I’d feel so close to, and so loved, by my dad.

My parents finally divorced when I was 17 years old. It was not amicable at all and I got to know things about both my parents which (whether real or not) no child should ever hear about the people responsible in equal measure for her DNA!! As the oldest child I felt responsible for the fact that I was unable to “save” their marriage. When I was around 19 years old I suffered from my first severe bout of Clinical Depression.

Eventually my father came back into my life, together with the woman who would become wife number two. I always got on really well with her and actually tried to warn her about my father’s “dark side”. Unfortunately, blinded by love, she not only married him but gave birth to a daughter who is only one year older than my own oldest child!

Unfortunately, when I was 6 months pregnant with my daughter, my father left South Africa because he could no longer “borrow from Peter to pay Paul”. He told all his creditors that I had signing power on the Company Account and that I’d take care of payments while he was overseas. What he neglected to tell them was that all his accounts were already overdrawn, so any cheques I wrote would bounce. I refused to sign “bad cheques” and instead returned the cheque books to the Bank Manager telling him that I was in no way to be associated with my father’s business affairs any more. When my father heard that I had done that, he told all our family and friends both in Italy and in South Africa that I had stolen his money! The stress of this awful betrayal caused me to go into premature labour. (Luckily, with medication and strict bed rest, I managed to bring my pregnancy much closer to term and thereby give life to my only daughter.) Since (in his mind at least) I had stolen his money, my father refused to speak to me – or have any other kind of contact at all for over 10 years.

Meanwhile, his second marriage also ended and my step-mom and half-sister moved back to Italy permanently. My father “reinvented” himself as a “Great White Hunter” and ran tours into the Kruger National Park with the support of the latest woman to fall in love with him. I’m very grateful to M for being with him right up until the end. I’m also grateful to M’s daughter and son-in-law, who took our father in when he was ill and none of his biological children were in a position to help him.

So why do I say that his death was a gift? By removing himself from the equation, he has made past hurts and rivalries irrelevant. All the women and children who love him are free to love him together! He has also “woken up” those of us left behind to what is really important in life. We need to tell the ones we love that we love them unconditionally – just because they’re a part of our lives. I believe he has given us the gift of “rebirth” instead of 4 families we can be one, and we should be one because we all loved him, albeit in our own way and in our own time.

I believe that a FAMILY is tied by bonds of love and respect and not “bloodline”.

I hope this post has inspired you to spread the love and respect, this world sure needs to have a lot more of both floating around!!

Photo credit to Mama Simona of South Africa.

This original post was written by Mamma Simona of Cape Town. She shares her home with a loving and supportive husband, two teens, two cats and two dogs. Her posts are usually to be found on World Moms Blog but she was happy to be able to share these thoughts with all who follow The Alchemist.

Tell us about your family.  Post it as a comment to this post or share it in your own blog and post the link here.

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2 Responses to “Guest Post: What is family?”

  1. Purnima September 1, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Thank you so much for writing this post. Our deep condolences are with you for the loss of your father. But the courage to come out this story is truly appreciative.

  2. Tatter Scoops September 3, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Simona, my condolences for the passing of your father. It’s so wonderful that you can all come together and mend whatever happened wrong in the past. This post brought me to tears as I got to see my ex husband being in your father’s path. So sad really but that’s the kind of life he chose for himself. Thank you for sharing this. I love your honesty in this post. Very heart warming!

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