Thoughts by Richard Bleil
As my readers know, the past couple of weeks have been difficult for me. My father was put into hospice and passed on a little bit later. My father and I hadn’t spoken in many years, but he was still my father. I’ve been spending hours on end remembering him, thinking of the relationship we had when I was a child, and thinking of his life. There is no doubt in my mind that he suffered from depression and was raised in an era where he learned self-reliance, restraint and honor. He was not easy to like, but he was my father. I know that he always did what he believed was best and worked hard to provide for us. But this post isn’t about that.
Those who have been paying attention know by now that my family puts the “dis” in dysfunctional. I begrudge them nothing; my sister and her family is dealing with my father’s death the same as I am, and I’m glad that they have each other to lean on. But their actions through this have been hurtful to me and I feel have increased the chasm at a time that we should be pulling together. But this post isn’t about that, either.
Throughout this time, my friends have reached out to me and have been incredibly supportive. They’ve reached out to me via social media, text message, phone calls and even conference calls to show their love and support in this difficult time. I’ve heard from friends that have been close to me and a significant part of my life for a very long time, and from friends that I still adore but have drifted from me for quite a long time.
This post is about that.
For a man in my position and having learned how to be a man from my father and his stubborn isolationist self-reliable attitude, it’s easy to feel abandoned and alone in this world. It’s easy to slip into the habit of loneliness. I spend far too much time alone and convince myself that this is what I want. Then a friend asks if I want her to call and calls anyway despite my insistence that it’s not necessary.
Family comes in different forms. We’ve heard this before. Divorced and single parents, homosexual parents, childless couples, they’re all families. My uncle Bub lived with my grandfather, as far as I know, for his entire life. The two of them constituted a family. Bub estranged himself from the rest of the family for reasons that I’ve never known, but I remember when my family went to visit grandpa, he was simply no longer there. One day we saw him sitting in his car down the road waiting for us to leave. Eventually, we stopped visiting my grandfather as well.
After moving out on my own, I went to visit my grandpa. The last time I saw him, he had a long rope tied to the apex of the barn and was pulling on the rope by hand. I asked him what he was doing, to which he replied that if he tears the barn down, there won’t be any insurance money, but if it falls there will be. He was literally pulling the barn down by hand, and he was making progress. After he died, I went to visit my uncle Bub. I didn’t know if he would see me or not, but he did. I asked what happened, but he never answered. He did tell me that he was past whatever hurt he felt, though. I was glad to have had that time with him.
I am the last Bleil standing in my bloodline. My father had one brother who had no children, and I have no brothers. When I die, my bloodline ends with me. I don’t have the legacy of children to carry my name forward. It’s easy to look back at my life and wonder if I’ve accomplished anything at all. No children, no grandchildren, I’ll be leaving no legacy. Then my friends show me such unconditional love, such incredible support, and I know that I have accomplished something. I can’t say that I will ever understand what that something is, but to have such dedication is irrefutable proof that I’ve made a difference.
Everybody needs, from time to time, love and support. You no doubt have been the support of others and have others who have been there for you. When you think of those people in your life that you can rely on in dark times, you might want to take a few minutes to be thankful to have them in your life. Reach out and tell them how much they mean to you. As for my friends, I love all of you. Thank you for all you’ve done for me.