My father died a year ago today. I thought it would be fitting to put up a pleasant story about my father. If you didn’t follow my previous (and now defunct) blog there is a copy of what I wrote last year, when I found out he had died, at the end of this post.
A lot of what I learned about life and survival I learned from my father. My father taught me to use my wits from an early age. One of his favorite things to do with me during my visits with him was playing board games… specifically Chess and Monopoly. He was a man who valued calculating his next move both in a game and in life. For us these games were not only a fun bonding experience but also a life lesson. A lot of parents are easy on their children and let them win which is something my father never did. He would let me lose time and time again and get frustrated time and time again. But every weekend I visited the Monopoly game would come out or the Chess board. He didn’t let me give up. He kept pushing and pushing. When I made a wrong move he would let a few more turns go by, show me the mess I had gotten myself into, and use it as a lesson. He always told me the proudest day for him would be the day I beat him fairly, on my own. I never did.
This was posted October 20th 2010.
Last week I found out my father is dead. He didn’t die last week or even last month. He’s been dead for quite some time. March 30th of this year, to be exact. I found out because my mother has been having some abnormal reoccurring dreams. All of her dreams are fundamentally the same. She’s having trouble finding him, she’s afraid something is wrong, when she finds him something has happened with his heart and he’s dead. She felt like someone was trying to tell her something. So she Googled Robert Henry Butler to see what would pop up. She found his obituary.
Here’s a copy of his obituary which hints at why I didn’t know until now that he is dead until now.
This was taken from The Winchester Star newspaper:
Robert Henry Butler,
68, of Bloomery, West
Virginia, died Tuesday,
March 30, 2010.
Mr. Butler was born at
Washington, DC on July
12, 1941, the son of the
late Dennis F. and Dorothy
Mr. Butler is survived
by his wife, Margery
Butler of Bloomery, WV;
daughter, Sherri Ross of
Minneapolis, MN; a sister,
Pat Butler and her husband,
Steve Taylor of
Woodstock; and a brother,
Ret. Col. Dennis Frederick
Butler and his wife,
Rosemarie of Seattle, WA.
Service will be private.
My mother was pissed when she read it. I was less surprised. She was pissed because, if you notice, I am not mentioned in the obituary as a survivor. I knew this is how it would be. My father and I were estranged. Those of you who know me know the story of my past and more importantly the story of my past with my father. So I won’t speak ill of the dead.
I will give a brief history of our estrangement. Our relationship came to an abrupt pause during my 16th year when I wrote a letter. A letter that my counselor, at the time, was very impressed with (good for her). It stated that I was terminating our relationship for my own reasons spawned from our own nasty history. I sent it certified mail so I knew he had received it. Some of the fall-out from that included his mother (my grandmother of whom I’m her namesake) called me to tell me I was a bitch and my father’s unexpected arrival and then removal from my high school. A few years later I, being in college with a child of my own, decided to reinstate contact at about the age of 22. That turned into a few choice letters, phone calls, and then my father ambushing me at a class. I could tell he was anxious to see me. I went to see him a couple of times. I brought my son to one such meeting at his home. As soon as we (my father, my son, and I) were the only ones left in the room he proceeded to confront me about how none of what had happened was true. He couldn’t let it go of the lies. So for the good of my own sanity and my son’s that was it. I didn’t contact him anymore and I ignored his contacts. I received a letter a few months later stating that he hoped I was happy with myself and I would be written out of his will and I would not know when he died. I left it at that.
So there it is. I’m not surprised. I’m not sad, either. I don’t really know what I am. I feel like an ugly part of my life has closure. But to me it seems so cold. He was my father and I will remember the good times and the bad and I will give a fitting farewell to the man who is at the origin of most of my fears.
So here are pictures of him during the “good times” when he was young and his life was before him. Before getting kicked out of the military, before jail, before my mother and myself. Just… before.
The left picture was taken in August 1946. My guess is he’s the one all the way at the top. He would have been 5 in this picture. The right picture was taken at some point during his days in military school at Massanutten Military Academy. It’s during his high school years, anyway. There is no date listed.
Goodbye and I hope your soul finds rest.