While heading up a mountain in Banff, Jordon got a call asking for me. I had no idea who it was at first which is probably the first clue I am not close to my family but it was my sister-in-law who was telling me my father was close to death. At first I thought it was someone who was calling from work. Despite not wanting updates on his condition and making that really clear, someone always had to give them to me. A few hours later a nephew called to tell me he had died.
For those of you who care, here is his obituary.
I know obituaries highlight the good in person but as much as I hate to say it, my experiences with my father were far different than what is written here. My father openly hated Jordon, despised me, and rejected a relationship with Mark. He never met or saw Oliver. He never cared enough to do anything about it. I asked before and after the obituary was created not to be mentioned in it, I keep being told “it’s a fact, you are his daughter”. Yes I do share DNA with him. He is my biological father. I was his daughter he liked to tell how much he despised and assured me that he wished I hadn’t been born. Seeing my name in there brings back a lot of pain and memories. It also really upset Mark.
I don’t know what happened to my relationship with my dad. I used to be daddy’s little girl. We used to be close. We took road trips together. We talked for hours. He called all of the time from home and work. Then it got weird as I became an adult.
When I went home after being engaged, he immediately called an ex-boyfriend who had threatened to kill me and had at one point told me he had me lined up in rifle sights because if he couldn’t have me, no one could. He sat in the middle of the room and made a big deal about calling up this guy and made it really clear to Jordon and I that it wasn’t him that he approved of. He then went down and brought up some coffee beans he had given my dad, and kept going on about it. That was Jordon’s introduction to the Hardinge family. Jordon didn’t care but I did. It was so out of character for him. Then it got back to me that during Jordon’s and my wedding he bad mouthed Jordon horribly during it. At the time I was really hurt by it by it only got worse.
I had been married to Jordon for a year and was losing my mind. We were vacationing in Waskesiu when I told him that I had been molested and sexually assaulted growing up. I didn’t understand it at the time but I was suffering from depression and also PTSD from it. After talking to Jordon and him being supportive (and he has since I told him), I decided to tell my mom and dad. I had hoped it would help me move forward and us grow together as a family. I was completely wrong. It drove us apart.
While my mother was telling me that I had possibly made up the memories, my father asked the person who molested me if it was true. A year after that, he told me the person confessed but he said it was consensual and mutual (which is what all molesters say) and my dad believed him and he threw that back in my face every time he was upset. On top of that he hadn’t told my mother so I had to listen to her question whether or not it happened in front of him and he said nothing. Later on he would tell me that I wasn’t a member of the family anymore now that I was married to Jordon. “You are a Cooper, not a Hardinge now.”
He lied about Jordon and I to others in Brandon. He never understood that things got back and would get angry at me when they did. In the end he seemed determined to do everything he could to destroy my relationship with him. Finally he said that he didn’t want anything to do with me because he wanted to be around the person that molested me. It was so shocking when he said that and I remember Jordon saying, “You are destroying your relationship with Wendy!” He said coldly, “Well I don’t care”.
I tried to reason with him but it turned into a weird power struggle. He would lie to me constantly and then get enraged when I would call him on it. After he would fly into a rage, we could never talk about it because it was in the past, even if it happened earlier that week. Everything upsetting was off the table so nothing could ever be talked through or dealt with. It was more about my parents keeping control than anything.
He never had the capability or strength to make it better. At the same time, he would never seek help for his temper or his own demons and took pride in that. He would rail years ago, “I’d rather never see you again than talk to a therapist!” It became a self fulfilling prophesy. He went from being a person of integrity and turned into someone that liked to lie and be dishonest to me. I think he got off on it.
When Mark was small, he came out and wanted to see me. He had been horrible to me recently and neither Jordon nor I wanted to see him but he kept emailing and calling and finally I said yes. I had talked it over with Jordon and said how much I wanted my parents back in my life and to be grandparents to the boys. I kept telling myself things could change and I had hoped we could work things out since he was coming to visit. That night I begged him to be a part of my life that night but he came out and was clear he wanted nothing to do with Jordon, Mark, or myself. He was very clear that he didn’t want a relationship with Mark because he had two other grandkids and didn’t want one with Mark. If he had tried to be more hurtful, he could not have been. I guess it is why it makes me sick to see my name mentioned in that obituary. He was so clear how much he hated me and even Mark.
Aubrey went back home and said that he had a great visit with me to my mother. She was thrilled because she thought we had this breakthrough. He didn’t tell her that he had destroyed our relationship. I wrote a bit about it and then he emailed and threaten to sue me for talking about. I tried to talk him but he wouldn’t take my calls and hid behind my mom. He ignored all of my emails. He just stopped talking to me. Almost a full decade later he told me that he had too much coffee to drink and his stomach hurt like that was a rational explanation for saying what he did and then going away for a decade. When I called him on it, he said it was because he didn’t like our living room layout. I tried for years to find out what he was thinking but my mom was his great enabler, and since it was in the past, it could never be discussed. I still don’t know why he did it.
He became meaner over time. His outbursts were crueler. He crossed over the line to abusive and seemed to enjoy being so. My mother once said that she thought he cared for me deep down but there was no evidence. My therapist pointed out he was just being abusive now.
We just never saw each other. He would never write back, never initiate anything, never bothered to care. After treating me like crap for years, him and my mom tried to connect with Mark after 14 years of no contact and did it in the worst possible way. After never talking to him all of the time let’s Mark know what he has always loved him and seen him part of the family, despite what he did years before. He also took a shot at Jordon and I and Mark replied back by saying, “If you want a relationship with me, be nice to my mom.” From that, my father and mother would go on about how Mark rejected them like it was my fault. It was always my fault.
I don’t know what happened and never will. Family members have given me their opinions. He would tell me he had some secret to tell me in time, in other words if I did what he wanted. The secret went with him to the grave. I have my theories but in the end, something snapped in him the day I told him I was molested and he desperately needed therapy in order to process his feelings. A few years ago I posted about how Guyana has one of the worst attitudes to sexual violence. As a culture, they saw it as the women’s fault. His constant tossing back that my molestation and sexual assault was consensual makes sense in that light. He saw everything, including his lying as my fault. In the end, I had to fix things to become part of the family again. The only way to do that was for me to pretend that nothing had happened.
When he was diagnosed with cancer, he texted me. He wanted to see me one last time. Nothing about the boys at all. I emailed and asked if we could try to fix things, he blamed everything including me being first molested and then sexually assaulted on me. He made it clear that he didn’t even think the people who had done it in the wrong. I was a slut and whore to him and I deserved it. What a way to end things off.
He met Mark once. Never met Oliver. Hated Jordon. Despised me. That was his legacy as a father and grandfather to me. Other will have their own positive experiences, those are mine. He may have had his last breath this week but my dad died years ago. At least now he can find some peace.
For those of you who have great parents, appreciate them, I once thought I had one. I was wrong.