A last words journal of a dying man
As my life begins to come to a close my mind becomes thoughtful of those loved ones I hope to soon meet again, and to those who are left behind that I feel apologetic for all the things I wish you could have been said or we could have done together while there was still time.
Where do I begin? Will the first person I choose to speak about somehow rate higher than others? I don’t want this to be the case. Funny, but as I started to write this the song, Cats In The Cradle, began playing on my Pandora station. I’ll take that as a sign that I should first talk about my father, David Ryan Kirchner who passed away in 2005 from a prescription drug overdose.
I wasn’t blessed to have grown up with my father as after two years of marriage my mother divorced him never letting him know she was pregnant with his child. I think that was an evil thing for my mother to do. I was his child as much as hers and he should have had all rights to have a proper relationship to me starting with being there holding me when I was born. If my mother would have revealed her pregnancy to him could that have been a catalyst for them to fix whatever was wrong in their relationship so I could have grown up with a loving father instead of not knowing him till I was 25-years-old and sought him out on my own?
Imagining my parents being centered in love and forgiveness and having a healthy marriage where I had the chance to growth up in a nurturing environment is a nice fantasy I’ve often entertained since the age of 13 when my mother first revealed to me who my real father was.
It was another of my mother’s drunken evenings when I was 13 that decided to break my heart a bit more as she abusively screamed the question, “Do you want to know who your real father is? It’s not Chuck Hall!” She grabbed me by the hair of the head and shoved me down into a ladderback chair that sat between my fish tank on a chest of drawers and my bedside table, and continued her verbal and physical abuse.
My memory of this event is etched deeply in my memory so please forgive me for giving specific details like the glass bottle of green apple scented body splash that my mother picked up and beat me over the head with. She hit me over the head till the cap broke off the bottle and the entire contents poured over my head and into my eyes and it burned. If only I somehow could have stopped this all from happening like it was a nightmare I could wake up from somewhere over the rainbow. Opening my eyes in a place where these clouds of my childhood were far behind me was not possible. Stopping reality was not possible. My mother was in control and my abused mentally could only respond in one way, taking the abuse, and continuing to be a good boy so hopefully the abuse would not get worse.
This abusive event culminated in my mother taking me with her to the kitchen where the phone book was and looking up the phone number of the home of the parents of my biological father. I filled with fear. I was all eyes as I memorized the page number in the phone book where she found their number with the address of Alton Road in St. Matthews which was not far from where we were living. Why I never called that phone number after that night I do not know. My mother got my dad’s mother on the phone and revealed to her after all these years that she’s had a son by David. I don’t recall the rest of the conversation, but it wasn’t a long one. As usual, the next morning nothing was ever said again about my real father, and as the child of an abusive alcoholic I knew very well not to ever bring the subject up because anytime you confront an abusive alcoholic parent with the abusive behavior or anything they did while drunk it only stirs up more anger in them and you will be get abused even worse the next time they get drunk. This was my life as a kid. This was the mode of regular abuse I endured.
Life had gotten better for the brief 18 months my mother was married to Bob, but then he died and my brief respite from abuse was gone. Thankfully, my mother sought herself out another alcoholic by the name of Charlie Bush and he became my 3rd stepfather. Together they hatched a plan to move us all away from Louisville, Kentucky 1000 miles away to Tampa, Florida. This move prevented me from entertaining any hopes of meeting my real father. I had a whole plan rehearsed where I was going ride my bicycle over to his home where he lived with his parents and I was going to knock at the door pretending to be a neighborhood boy looking to cut lawns for the summer.
It’s difficult to be open about this lost hope of meeting my father. If I could have only met him, maybe he would have fought to keep me and I would have never had to leave Kentucky or the girl I loved. In my imagination the family would agree to have me cut their lawn and they even provided the mower. As I’d return the mower to their garage there would be my father with some woodworking project and I’d show great interest in what he was created and ask him if he’d teach me. I guess you can imagine how the rest of my fantasy unfolded with us growing to know each other and one day he’d say to me, “I wish I had a son like you”, to which I’d reply, “You remember being married to Virginia Hall? I am your son.” How my life could of changed, if only…
Some people get stuck in pride in life and dare not drink from the wellspring of humility and forgiveness as if it were poison to them. People get stuck in their ways and belief systems without keeping an open mind to other possibilities. Why do people get so psycho instead of being easygoing?
Yeah, so my dear father, David Ryan Kirchner, is gone without me ever getting closure on our relationship, but I am thankful we got to have one. I’m thankful I was able to find out what a caring and fun man he was. I’m thankful I was able to know both my mother and father and ultimately know my mother didn’t deserve such a good man. She ran him off like she did every single one of her husband’s, save the one that escaped through death after 18 months of marriage.
I guess I kinda killed two birds with one stone with those recollections from my childhood. You might think I have a lot of resentment towards my abusive mother, but what I have for her is deep pity in my soul and heart that she somehow became the person she was. What was her psychological trauma that made her they way she was? I wonder if she ever knew the family secret that her mother’s grandfather was born into slavery? Certainly, passing for White, but having the skeleton of half White/half Black great grandfather meant that no matter how White you looked, if people where to know your secret they would consider you Black too. Maybe that was part of my mother’s psychological torment that made her such an abusive person? I can imagine if she knew she may have resented her mother for ever having children that would have to bear such a family history in a world that at the time was not very accepting of such.
In August of 1994 I had prepared to have a special conversation with my mother on the 1st anniversary of her death. I had rehearsed a lot of grievances as the months, weeks, and days passed till her yahrzeit arrived. I lit a candle next to her photo that sat atop my fireplace mantle and I began to speak to her as if she were actually there listening. All that anticipation of the day and the preparation came to an immediate screeching halt when it suddenly hit me that she already painfully knew my long list of grievances. Was it a spiritual connection where she let me know she already knew how badly she had hurt me and let me down? All that preparation for that big talk with mom was for not because I knew in my soul that if she could come back just for two minutes she say how sorry she was and she’d hug me and tell me she loved me for the first time in my life. I realized all was left to do instead of airing my grievances was just to let it all go with forgiveness and a great burden was lifted from my heart in 2 seconds and I went on with my day.
I missed so much by not having my father as I should have had all my life. I suffered much from a mother who was very mentally and physically abusive to me. In my heart though all is forgiven because I have hope in my heart that one day I will see them again and they will have reunited before my arrival and I expect the best family hug with the three of us. I admit I don’t fully know how heaven works, but I do hope it’s a grand reunion with all those who have known and loved.
I have shared this thought with only a few people, but my dream is that when I close my eyes in eternal sleep and reopen them on the other side that I will find myself in a glowingly beautiful sunlit meadow of grass and white daisies, Scotch thistles, and milkweed in bloom. Is I am walking I begin to recognize the slope of the rolling meadows and the oak trees and then I know where I am. I am home on my grandparents farm again and as I round the corner of the pasture gate our lake comes into view. Everyone is there fishing and waiting for me to arrive. Grandma, grandpa, mom and dad together, aunt Mary and Uncle Eddie, the cousins, all the great aunts and uncles and their families, even my half brothers and sisters that I don’t have much resolution on yet. Everybody I’ve ever known or loved is there and it’s the best family and friends reunion ever. A lovely new pavilion has been built on the lakeside with picnic tables, grills, and an attached dock that lead out into the water. The best time ever. Family, and the love of family has always been so important to me, and I never got to taste enough of it in my lifetime.
Onto Phyllis Hogan. I guess I’ll go to my grave never really knowing what happened to you that made you jump and marry someone else the month following my April 1982 return to Kentucky for you. And of all people, Patrick Hickey? I remember him from school and what mean person he was. He certainly has the personality to become a Marine. They look for a certain psychological type and he had it in spades. I know you have suffered much for having married such an abusive asshole, so I won’t say anymore about him. I just wish I could know what was going on with you. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve often wondered if your desperation was due to the loss of your father a few years before we met. You and I never talked about your grief over him.
I think back doing that “what if” and “if only” thing. Why was I such a good boy who wanted to wait for marriage for sex? I know the reason. I was so abused into never misbehaving that I didn’t have the ability some people have to give into reckless abandon. Were you trying to get me to have sex with you so you could trap us into an earlier marriage? I suspect you were. Why didn’t you tell me? I was clueless. If you could have explained the plan to me I would have been on board before my mother ever decided to move my family to Florida and I imagine it would have prevented us from ever moving.
So, let me do the math….58 – 15 = 43. Wow! Our oldest child would be 43 now! Of course I know our first would have been a boy. I see him now taking over the farm duties for his dad who just can’t do it all anymore. That’s the way it should be. I’d like to imagine at least some of our kids would have wanted to live on the farm property and build homes there. 20 acres is enough room. Imagine how many grandchildren we’d have running around now! Life would be so full of love and so many blessings. I think we would have moved your mom out to the farm too. She was so lovely and I would not have had it any other way. Your mom and I talked a lot over the years, but not at the end of her life. Did she ever tell you of us talking when you had begun communicating with me again back in 2007? I don’t know if your mom felt she should keep our conversations to herself or not. I just never thought of it. I’ve always been one to keep confidences with people so it’s just part of who I am, not to keep secrets, but I guess you’d say to have special confidential relationships? You mom always made time for me and was so kind. She was a good listener and went above and beyond when she truly had no reason to with me. It was part of who she was, a deeply caring person. I miss her a lot. Gotta take a break now….