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Edward Leon Gibbs Died July 19, 2009

July 19, 2009

My father had been seriously ill for two years, and during the last two months, he just went down hill fast. In fact, for the last month of his life he was mostly bed ridden. Still, when my mother and sister dragged him to the car to take him to the doctor -- he was convinced if he went to the hospital he would die -- I still wasn’t sure he was close to the end. You see, The Mayos (my father’s mother’s family) were always dying. It took them so long to die that when they did in fact die, people were either stunned because they couldn’t believe they were finally dead or were thinking, “Gee, I thought they died years ago.” But three days later, when I started for Washington Regional Medical Center, I knew he was dead or close to it.

We made the decision to put him on comfort care, which was not only a good decision but the right one. Then my mother and I sat with him for three hours while he slowly died. Just before they stopped forcing him to take the medicine that was keeping him alive, I told my dad I loved him, and he said, “I know.” That’s comforting because, you see, he and I had such a love-hate relationship that I knew I loved him, but I was never really sure that he knew I actually loved him. It wasn’t at all like you see in the movies. He made no death bed confessions. He never apologized for the way he treated any of us or our mother.

The last thing he muttered before he went comatose was, “Where’s Mother?”

So we stood there for those last three hours, my mother and I holding my dad’s hands and telling him all the things he’d done and all the places he’d been in his life. None of the bad stuff; just the good. We opened the curtains and the window and just talked to him till he just stopped breathing.

My father hated and loved me, and I hated and loved him. He was abusive to me. I was the oldest and, while he was sometimes rough on my sisters, he was hardest on me. He also did more with me and taught me more than he did them. He was always verbally abusive to me -- and often physically abusive.

Though he was never diagnosed, he was seriously bi-polar. When he was good, he was very good and when he was bad, he was horrid. You never knew what you were going to get at the end of the day when he walked through the door.

He was selfish in the extreme most of the time, and then he would do something just for us. He never went on vacation that he didn’t also take the kids.

He was an amazing talent. He could sing, dance, draw, paint, and sculpt. He could write, though he rarely did when we were kids, but he would tell us stories he made up that were brilliant.

I loved him and I hated him. Everything that is good about me and everything that I hate about myself came right from him.

He never admitted to faults, except the physical -- he never wore a short-sleeved shirt because he hated his body. He never apologized for anything. The closest he ever got was when he was in the ICU about four years ago and had been deep in something they call “ICU psychosis.” He had been screaming about all sorts of weird shit for days. Mother and I would come in and try to calm him down and likely as not we did more harm than good. Then, in the middle of one of these tirades, he looks at me and my mother starts to cry and he says, “I’m sorry I’ve always been such an asshole.” My sister Tania said then that I’d better take it and run because it was the only apology any of us were likely to get.

My father married me off to my son’s father when I was 16. He and mother signed the paperwork that made the marriage legal after a discussion he had with my first husband, in which they arranged the marriage. I was a virgin at the time. He married me off to a 34-year-old man in order to keep me from being queer -- which he had apparently known about me, if you believe what he later said, since I was three. That’s a lot of resentment and anger to carry around so I try not to. At that point I would have done anything to get away from my father. What I didn’t realize was that I was trading one father for another.

Dad never really praised any of us. In fact, I can only remember a couple of times in my whole life when he said anything positive about what I’d done without instantly telling me everything that I did wrong.

My dad was bigger than life -- a real character -- and everyone who knew him either loved or hated him. Those that knew him best often did both, and often at the same time.

We were talking about gun safety awhile back and my mother says, as if it was a perfectly sane thing, “Daddy always kept his bullets in a different room from where he kept his gun. That way, he said, he might be over being mad by the time he loaded his gun.” Now there’s handgun safety for ya.

Selina

If you enjoy these bitches, please contact Selina directly at selinarosen@cox.net. Thanks!

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