Monday, 17 December 2007

Old Dog, New Tricks

Last Friday morning my dog was put to sleep, and I've no idea why. She, Jenny, has been the family pet for the past ten years and apparently suffered a stroke last week and was greatly hindered by it, so my Dad made the decision to have her destroyed. Funny thing is, last time I saw the dog she was as fit as a fiddle. Even funnier thing is, Dad had no idea what to get his wife for Crimbo; but now the dog's gone he's brimming with ideas. Specifically, a new cat or dog to replace the one we "sadly lost". Hmm...

Our last dog was 'lost' too, in very fishy circumstances. The babysitter left the front door open, and she 'slipped' out never to be seen again. Strange, because a week earlier the cat went missing too... Admittedly they were both half blind and deaf, but it's kinda strange how they both seperated themselves from my family at the same time. Lucky thing Dad was forward thinking enough to buy a replacement (Jenny) wasn't it..?

My family have always been good at keeping secrets, as you can probably tell. A few years ago my Grandad was rushed into hospital, but initially everything seemed okay. A week passed, and things got worse. We were told that Gramps had ulcers on his stomach one minute, and the next... full blown cancer of the stomach, pancreas, intestine and lower abdomen. At the time I thought it was strange how the doctors could make such a huge medical error / mis-diagnosis but I was too busy mourning my Grandad's death I didn't care.

Now, almost two and a bit years on I look at the whole thing with new eyes and an added perspective. My grandparents had started acted a little strange up to 18 months before his Gramp's death - selling their beloved caravan, and encouraging us not to visit as much as we were used to. Then there were the whispers, here and there, between my dad and his brothers and sisters - what about, I don't know. But I have my theory.

I think Grandad found out a long time before his death that he had terminal cancer, and chose to hide it from his family. Which was his right, I suppose. I think his immediate family were told, and the rest of us were spoonfed some - now clear - white lies, maybe to protect my Gramp's during his last days on this Earth. "Don't kick up a fuss because of me" he would have said, I'm sure of it. 'Cept I'm not. I can't be sure of anything; that's the thing about living in my family - secrets remain secrets forever, and you never quite know which reality you should believe in.

When he was drunk once my Dad told me that his father molested him as a child, and he did the same to my aunties and uncles. He spent a good few hours informing me of the things that happened to him, what he was subjected to as a five year old boy - things that five year old boys shouldn't have to be exposed to. And I believed him, and felt sorry for him. Only, the next morning he denied it ever happened. Dad insisted that he'd never been raped, and called me a liar for saying all those things. Again, the truth's been buried, and I'll never know what it is.

The saddest thing is, I've developed the character trait too. Every now and then I'll cover up the truth and hide it from the ones I love, in perfectly innocent ways (mostly to protect them from things they're not ready for) but just doing that proves that I am indeed my Dad's son, and my Grandad's grandson. I'm a guardian of secrets, and I'll hurt the ones I love if I'm not careful.

It happened with Katie. It's the reason why we broke up. I hid the truth from her, about my new job, because we were busy arguing. I didn't want to interrupt the argument by telling her the good news. Infact, I only told her I had the job when I had to (i.e. the day before). I think it's one of the thing's I'm most guilty of in my entire life, and probably one of the reasons why I can't move on from Katie - because I am to blame, and for the worst possible reason.

Secrets and lies, which have hurt me for years, took control.

The fact that I'm writing this now is good news, because at least I'm aware of the fault and clearly want to fix it for good. I just have to be an honest person and stop trying to hide the real me, and who I stand for. What I do defines my very person; I shouldn't be ashamed. And I shouldn't have my family playing a perverted game of chinese whispers, distiling the truth until nobody knows what the real truth is anymore. Open my eyes, tell the truth and maybe - maybe - show my dad how things should be done.

Teach the old dog new tricks, as the case may be?
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