i searched the internet for his obituary and found someone with his exact full name save that they died in idaho- a place as far as i know he had no connection with. when his mother died her obituary listed him as being in virginia but at the time i did not follow up this information. when he returned here because of his mother's illness and subsequent death, he had left (or more likely had someone leave) a typed, clinical AA/NA missive for me with no return address and no postal stamp in my mom's mailbox. it was self serving, distant , and formulaic- the work of a selfish and damaged but still arrogant man who showed little if no shame or genuine remorse for what he had done to me . writing that you're trying to be make amends for your past wrongs is not the same as making amends. i can't see how anyone can seek forgiveness, even if so half assedly, and not allow the person to whom the apology is addressed to respond. it was as if he thought that by typing out a pat acknowledgment that he may have done something wrong, he could both receive forgiveness and wash his hands of me at last. my cats care more about how i feel and how i am than this sorry excuse for a father was my thought at the time. i have often noted that i spend more money on my cats per week then this tool was required at first to pay in child support for me. when my cats were sick i was beside myself with worry and when they died i was beside myself with grief. it sounded as if phil didn't spend much time at all giving a fuck about me because that would have been too messy and too problematic and he'd have to feel something. but your parents dying has a way of making your own mortality press upon your psyche and his note to me seemed more like a scared little twinge of self concern rather than any real attempt to try to contact me or apologize to me. then i was just not ready to try to hunt him down. it was a very distressing time in my life, very chaotic. having enough trouble just getting by, confronting runaway abusive asshole dad just wasn't a major concern nor would it have been an emotionally healthy undertaking.
so a few weeks ago i sent away for his death certificate to make sure it was him and just to get more information about him. i received it yesterday- pretty quick considering i was not sure they would accept my trail of documentation proving i was his child. in idaho death certificates are not public documents until 100 years after a death . you have to be a close relative or have legal reason to obtain them . i have changed my name and didn't know some of his vital information. but now i am sure dead idaho phil was my dead idaho phil and i finally have his social security number and the name of his second wife. i know that he lied about his birth date for most of his life, something my mother recently confirmed . i know he was living in idaho even though he did leave a message on my mother's answering machine several years ago, identifying himself and probably concerning his retiring(social security suggest you contact any ex- spouses when you apply for benefits) and the caller ID identified him as calling from virginia. he never called back and when my mother called the number a woman answered and claimed it all ' was a mistake' and refused to identify herself or confirm phil called from that number. (sister, you're telling me it's all a fucking mistake- i've been telling myself that my entire life.)
he died from a massive pulmonary embolism, one of the contributing factors to his death being listed as' ETOH use'. in other words, he was an alcoholic- bad enough that it effected chronic heart disease. and an autopsy was performed which seems odd- except if he was alone when he died and no cause of death was apparent. he was cremated.
because my mother did receive his survivor benefits i knew he was dead but holding this stupid but elaborately printed piece of paper with all this information on it had me feeling odd and off kilter . my father was ever present but also a non entity for me for years-living only in memory and only surrounded with a certain amount of pain and hurt. the idea that he is dead has become both shrug inducing and disturbing in a deep, near hidden way- like a depth charge at the bottom of the deepest ocean that forgot to go off. i had hoped that things would have ended differently even though i always seemed to know subconsciously they would not. right before he disappeared he wrote a highly surreal, disturbing farewell to me on the back of a photo . my mother kept it from me for some time rightly knowing that a 10 year old could in no way be expected to comprehend it especially a distraught, suicidal one. when i at last read it i was in my late teens. it still made little sense. now it has finally become highly understandable. he was never going to come back into my life- and he knew it the second he turned and walked away in 1974. that knowledge, fully accepted and understood, would have bestowed upon me a level of hopelessness i never would have been able to live with when i was a younger.
his death has changed nothing. he had 30 years to right the mess he left behind him and opted to apparently drink himself to death. in fucking idaho!
this song always makes me cry.