Marty hadn’t seen his father since the big blow up. That was almost three years ago. Blow up doesn’t even do justice to how embarrassing and pathetic a scene it really was. But wasn’t that how it always went? With the fighting and yelling and hurt feelings? The modus operandi really. And for as long as he could remember.
The last thing his Dad said to him was, “You’re dead to me now, I have no son anymore.” That was after he delivered the final face punch. On that note, and because Marty always believed his Dad to be an angry monster, Marty had no intention of ever seeing him again.
And got his wish.
Under the circumstances Marty had to come home from California. Because it was Christmas, they would stay for two weeks. This way he could be there to help with the arrangements and give support, and spend quality one-on-one time with his Mom. Marty’s row with his Dad had certainly put a damper his relationship with her. He hadn’t seen her for this whole time either, although they did keep in regular contact on the phone and through email. Just not the same. Mom always encouraged him to come visit, almost pleading really, saying his father would be civil. But she said if he did come, it would have to be alone. On those terms Marty declined. But the situation had changed, so none of that mattered much anymore.
His sisters would be coming home too, with their husbands and babies in tow. His Mom had insisted they all stay at the house, which certainly was big enough to accommodate them. Marty decided it was best to stay in a nearby hotel. He and Eric would have more privacy there, be able to use the indoor pool and gym, and eat a leisurely dinner. His Mom had protested, but relented. Never one to make waves, she shrugged her shoulders and told him, “do what you want, you always have.” His Mom wished things were different with how the family all got along all these years, always with the arguments getting out of control. She was over the moon to see her Marty again.
Things were so different.
While Eric drove, Marty stared out the window. They pulled their little Cavalier rent-a-car into the subdivision and Marty silently took in the neighborhood where he grew up, all covered in snow and lit up for Christmas. He was nervous, but it was with anticipation, the just coming home. Although his heart was filled with sadness, he had no regrets. His Dad had never accepted him, even after many years of knowing about him. He was brutal with his Mom and sisters too. Dad was that kind of person. Marty never hid anything about himself from any of them either. And his Mom always truly accepted him no matter what. But she said she had to be loyal to her husband.
She was always that way, towed the line. Apparently it was the only way she could keep things going.
Marty and Eric pulled in and parked in the driveway, already filled with cars, some with out-of-state plates, and walked up the steps into the house. Kids were running around inside, the house was hot. And LOUD. Marty led Eric into the dining room, where the adults were sitting around the table. Mom was fussing in the kitchen, as she usually was. Growing up, they always spent time in the kitchen, as the living room was Dad’s domain. They never ever really spent time in there. His Mom had her usual stoic expression, but brightened upon seeing him, and Marty went to her with his hugs. She pulled him closer, holding on, then busted out in sobs. “Marty I’m so sorry, I’m SO sorry,” looking up at him through tears, her hand on his face, taking him in.
“Mom it’s okay, it’s okay, we’ll get through this Mom.”
She looked past him at Eric, and walked up to him, taking her hand on putting it on his shoulder, “Welcome to my home. You are always welcome here, here in my home.” The eyes at the table were watching as she smiled up at him, putting her arms around his neck in an formal embrace.
Marty walked over to the table where his sisters and their husbands sat in a huddle. The lady from across the street was there too, the one he’d known since he was born. Also a man in a suit. Papers were spread out in front of the man and he was talking up a storm, everyone rapt with attention. Marty walked around the table, kissing and hugging his sisters, and nodding at the man. Jenny, his older sister told him, “This is Mr. Speezi, the funeral director. We’re going to have the funeral tomorrow Marty.” Mr. Speezi was reviewing Dad’s living will and discussing the funeral arrangements.
“Your father paid for everything up front, so no money is owed. The obituary ran in the paper today and we’ll have the viewing at the funeral home first, at 11AM. Then we’ll all proceed out to Rosemont Cemetery for his interment in the family plot.” He looked around the table. “Your father was very specific about what he wanted.”
Jenny laughed. “Well that’s a sigh of relief. I mean Dad was never one to be specific about anything”.
Mr. Speezi continued. “After the viewing, the hearse will lead the procession from the funeral home to Rosemont, with Marty and your mother in the first car, behind the hearse. You daughters will be in the second car, along with your husbands. The kids will have a car of their own which will trail after the family. Your other relatives and any guests who want to go out to the cemetery will all follow behind.” Mr. Speezi lifted his eyes from the papers and looked around the table.
Jenny motioned to Eric, “What about him?”
“Again, your father was very specific in what he wanted, and we encourage you to honor that. But it really is up to you.”
Mom took Eric’s hand and stepped over to the table. “He will ride in the car with me and my son. He’s with my son, and there’ll be no more of this.” Her voice was shaking and she was flushed, and squeezed Eric’s hand while motioning with both. “There’ll be no more fighting in this family,” getting louder now. “There’ll be no more, NO MORE. We’ve been fighting each other for years and because of HIM. He’s gone now, and everything’s different for everyone now.”
Marty walked over to his Mom and held her close, and included Eric. She pressed her face against Marty’s shoulder. Sobbing and muttering she said, “Everything’s different for everyone. My son is home now. Everything’s different. I need my son back.”
Mom stood close, holding each of their arms. Her eyes passed over everyone at the table. “ Let’s go into to the living room. It’s too stuffy in here.”