When I was fourteen years old my mother said to me, “Kristi, I’m done raising kids.” She rented me an apartment and moved in with her boyfriend which was forty-five minutes away from me. I admit I was both terrified and thrilled because in my mind my house was going to be party central. Luckily for me just down the hall there was a group of three twenty-something guys who were nice enough to truly look out for me. Yeah well, they also let me smoke pot any time I wanted but they saved me from a lot of bad things and made sure I got to school most days. Fast forward to three years later. My mom decided she didn’t want to rent the apartment for me so I could finish high school so she told me to find a place to live. We didn’t exactly have a great relationship because I’m sure I was a normal teenager and I was pissed that she had taken off on me. Anyway, I dug up my father and he found a condo that we could live in. He bought me a little car that I could drive forty minutes each way to school every day and I moved in. I was there a total of eight days and the phone rang one evening about 7:30 pm. My mom was dead. I was seventeen. To say that there were things left undone and words left unsaid is a gross understatement of epic proportions. I cannot ever express the regret I have about leaving things the way I did. People always say, “If I could just have five more minutes…” but that would never work because those five minutes wouldn’t be enough because how would you leave them? How could you leave them?
After the death of my mother I stayed in bed for six months. Literally. My father attempted to help by getting me counseling but it was a total waste of time because the counselor was an idiot. We also took the, “someone died, let’s take a trip” vacation, which was fun but weird and sad. Of course, I paid for the trip with my inheritance. I also bought a car. In fact, we both did, dad and I. When we returned from Mexico my father bought a house so I could start college and he could commute back and forth to Kansas City from Minnesota. He had started seeing a woman pretty seriously around this time and was spending a lot of time with her which was fine because I wasn’t used to seeing him anyway. He finally came to me and told me that he was moving to Kansas City for good and if I wanted to come along he would pay for me to attend the University of Kansas. I was in a serious relationship and had been for nearly two years but it was tumultuous and had been for quite some time so Kansas City was a no-brainer for me. I packed my things and headed south. Dad had re-married and they bought a house that we all moved into. None of us were used to living together or even really knew each other. I suddenly had four brand new brothers and a stepmom and I was twenty-one years old. I had been living on my own since I was fourteen years old so to suddenly be thrown back into a home with rules and limitations was a bit of a wrench-to-the-head. My stepmother expected me to act and behave like her children did and when I didn’t conform to her standard, she hated me. She hated that my father didn’t discipline me for things that she didn’t like. She finally told me that she didn’t care about me or my poor dead mother. That was the point when I turned loose of any hope of ever having a relationship with her.
That first fall I lived with Dad and her, I enrolled at KU and I gave them my tuition statement. Apparently though, the agreement had changed. They declined to pay. I spent that year working and saving money and learning how to get loans. Then the following summer I went to my dad without any previous discussion and let him know that in one week I would be leaving for the summer and in the fall I would not be back. I graduated with honors from KU four years later without taking one red cent from them. That was my fuck you and my thank you to them.
Currently I have no relationship with my father and that’s totally by choice. The relationship we used to have was phone calls, seeing each other at family gatherings and seeing each other if I bring my kids to see him. We live thirty-minutes apart, not 500 miles. He has never taken the initiative to seek me out or spend time with me unless he needs a ride to the airport. At this point in my life I have no plans of ever re-establishing a relationship with my father because I fear it would always be on his terms and I’m not prepared to go the distance of fighting it out and being a belligerent child in order to get my way. I am prepared however, to just walk away.