THE BROKEN CHAIN

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I wear a large, gold pendant on a thick, gold chain around my neck.  My hand frequently gravitates to the pendant to make sure the necklace is still there.  When I am nervous, I rub the six points and the intricate grooves on the surface and feel the smoothness of the two Hebrew letters—Chet and Yud—that spell Chai.  I never take it off, unless I need imaging done and the techs force me to unclasp it and then I hide the necklace in my purse, as it is really worth its weight in gold these days. The large pendant—a popular style from the late ’70s and designed for a man—has sat on my chest for almost 25 years, but the chain is not the original and was replaced less than a decade ago.

The pendant was my father’s.  He bought it for himself most likely to follow the trend and display his pride of being a Jew when most men had large crosses, and wore it until the disco look went out of style in the early ’80s.  The pendant is solid gold and heavy—far too heavy for the near 30 years of wear on the original, thinner, gold chain.  I never noticed the links were wearing down in spots or that the chain was slowly weakening, like that old bridge on I-5 in my home state of Washington that just gave way and collapsed into the river below.

Around 7 years ago, I was living in a dumpy, rental condo across town.  One afternoon, I was standing in the living room next to the laminate pass-through from the kitchen.  I bent down for some reason and when I came up, one point of the pendant caught on the edge of the pass-through and the chain ripped off my neck.  I saw it fly through the air in slow motion in a state of shock—as the necklace had so much significance to me.  I picked it up off the floor and saw that there were numerous thin spots in the chain that I had never noticed, but it was that one spot—the weakest link I suppose—that had broken the chain in two.  I knew at that moment that like the chain, the relationship with my father would never be mendable, and thus far, I have been right.

My father and I were estranged, as usually is the case, when the chain broke.  We have semi-mended ways and then become estranged again at least a dozen times since that fateful day.  He stopped talking to me—and by that I mean via infrequent e-mails—two weeks ago.  I had responded to one of his chain e-mails, usually something Jewish: a little humor, a story of the Holocaust that he adds a memorable comment to, or some randoms facts that come his way.

I told him I was about to reach my insurance’s limit for physical therapy for the year and that I could not get an override, despite numerous attempts to do so.  My Ehlers-Danlos and subsequent tendonosis is getting worse and I need physical therapy like a diabetic needs insulin.  I have not been able to work for years and despise even hinting that I need money.  He gives the same stock answer to any problem I mention, even though he would never really do anything.  The e-mail came back with the familiar, “What can I do to help?”  It sounds so wonderful and caring, like the father I knew as a child who I would search frantically for in our house after a day of being called derogatory slurs at school, but it is just smoke and mirrors now and I already knew the game we would play.

As he would never part with a dime to pay cash for my physical therapy, I gave a smart-ass reply and asked if he could grow a money tree outside of his home—the one that is half a block from Lake Washington with a 180° view of Seattle and the lake.  The argument ensued.  He claimed he was broke, his other stock answer, and I asked how a broke man has that home, and a custom Mercedes, and two country club memberships, and takes vacations every year. I would have mentioned shopping at Nordstrom’s and his young, gold-digger girlfriend, but that gets very messy.  He replied with, “How easily you forget.”

That was a reference to my childhood: growing up as the daughter of a successful businessman who bought me rabbit fur coats and diamond earrings for holidays, living in the beautiful homes that he, a high-end contractor, built, and taking vacations to warm places with palm trees and swimming pools.  The poor-little-rich-girl saga that he loves to put me in lately.  I suspect the gold-digger, pulp-mill-town girlfriend is behind this as my father would never insinuate such things about me.  I was as self-made as he was and he knows that.

How easily he forgot that he, my only real parent, emotionally abandoned me by middle school, made me start working when I was 14 so I would have a work ethic, that I never had anything in common with the few, spoiled, Jewish girls I knew growing up, and that if I wanted something as I got older—I bought it myself.  Let us not forget that I rarely even lived at my home once I was a teenager due to the dysfunction swarming inside it.

I have had enough of this Jewish-American-Princess story he has invented over the past few years to avoid looking like the horrible father he has unfortunately turned out to be.  His story is almost laughable considering I am on SSDI and live in a motel, but I suppose this is how he saves face while golfing with his old friends who have the princess daughters who aren’t even disabled.  I ended the e-mail argument by replying, “I do not even know who you are anymore.”  I really do not know this man who was so great at times in my early childhood—memories that have nothing to do with material possessions.

Before the price of gold went through the roof, I replaced the broken chain with the thickest twist chain I could find that would fit though the loop of the pendant.  It is strong and sturdy and has only had one weak spot that I had a jeweler fix for next to nothing.  The newer chain—of a lower karat and different style—is like the father I remember: the rock in my life, the bridge that would never crash down into the cold Skagit River north of Seattle.  The old chain, with all the weak spots that eventually broke due to the heavy pendant, is my father now.  He is a damaged version of his former self, unable or unwilling to carry any load, and like the chain that was beyond repair, so is he.

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21 thoughts on “THE BROKEN CHAIN

  1. Hi Stranger : it was good to see your post, and oh how I relate to this. I have a woeful jewish american princess tale, and I am not even jewish 😉 Thank you so much for shaing this. HUGS

    • Hey,

      I just left a quick comment at your place and will be back–promise! Feel free to elaborate; my blog is your blog. My body and brain have kept me from writing much lately. Funny stuff and so ironic in my situation. The Jewish American Princess in her furs and diamonds in the dumpy motel by the airport. It just swirls in my head. I wish I had those rabbit fur coats so I could pawn them. Lol! 🙂

      Talk soon…
      A

      • Totally understand. And I can share something similar. Years ago, ( my ex, now deceased) has just suffered his first INJURY, and lost his big toe in a job related accident. We were hurting. My dad and stepmother knew this so they, instead of groceries gave me a trainset. I gave it to my pastor’s grandson. Why? Because the pastor and his wife were the ones who came through for us despite my familiy abilitty to help in a crisis situation. I wish people understood that coming from money IS often NOT any help at all!

      • Amen, sister. That’s just deplorable and sorry about your ex. However, you could sell that train set! Sort of kidding. I luckily had my mother’s parents (not my mother) who were very blue collar and I learned a lot from my grandmother and have always been thrifty, so luckily I can make a dollar out of .15 cents. She’d wash out the Ziplocks and mend things (I can’t with my vision now) and just never spend a dime unless needed. If I really need something, I head to the thrift store and pray my vision will allow me to sort through the drek (junk).

        When I think of my father’s side, who does nothing for me, I really want to throw up. That grandmother (in her 90s and fine, while the nice grandparents are gone now) is the worst! She’s such a selfish, spoiled brat. If I lived in Seattle still, I’d take all her minks and designer clothes (I mean real designer stuff) and sell it all just to get even with her. Meanest woman I’ve ever met. I think if you don’t grow up with that balance like I got from my maternal grandparents, things can get pretty scary. Well, it helps make you a survivor if nothing else!

        Hugs,
        A 🙂

  2. Before you mentioned it I was already convinced the girlfriend was behind it. Your father must be feeling terrible inside – I think he knows better but he may be guided by his “other” brain. Sorry for saying that. Sometimes money doesn’t do the right “stuff”. Last year my mother gave me the family home to make sure I had a roof over my head to take care of my daughter given that the situation was so crazy. Yet, my mother has never had much as my dad was also very ill. Ironic isn’t it? She actually moved out of the house, into an apartment for seniors to give us more room and she brags about how happy she is for having made so many friends – which I know is just to make me feel more comfortable.

    If I were a witch I would put a curse on the girlfriend from the – what did you call it? – pulp mill town (lol) – although I also come from a pulp mill town (lol lol).

    • Sheep,

      You’re such a good read! OK, pulp mills are all over Washington due to the forests/lumber industry and there are rather trashy towns to go along with them and I will not put you in that category! How odd–I thought all the logging would be in the Western Provinces since it’s the same climate and all pine forests. Sorry!

      Here’s the back story of how things got very bad with my father–his ex-wife (married/divorced twice) was the same age as this one, around 20 yrs younger than my dad, and from the same town as this one in S. WA, yet she claims she doesn’t know her. They both have unusual surnames and come from huge families (like 10 kids). Really? Never heard of each other? The ex has that histrionic personality disorder and did everything to drive a wedge between my father and me, as we did get along well after I was 18, but she showed up when I was 19. That was the beginning of the end and I had to deal with her (and my dad taking sides with her) for nearly 14 yrs. She was overly sexual and weird (and her sister was an escort in Japan!) and I know how she got my father–they’re both Scorpios. She’s now an opiate addict and her son (former step-brother I didn’t care for but was my youngest brother’s age) died of a heroin overdose a few yrs ago. My dad did 2 uncontested divorces and lost millions to her each time (another thing that pisses me off as she was worthless and I don’t get a dime) and due to her mental issues and substance abuse, she lost all the money and homes (I could have used all of that!) and now lives with her aging father back in the pulp mill town. Apparently my mother gets collectors calling her as she shows up as a relative–haha!

      The current GF, who has lived with him for too long, met my father at the formerly Jewish country club. You have to be a member or be a guest of one to get in. Who would she know that belongs there and how would she golf when she has no money? I strongly suspect she knows the ex, got an *in* with someone, and looked for my father–the dupe who thinks with the wrong head. We all say this about him. You nailed it! He got completely brainwashed by the last one and it’s happened again–hence, not knowing who the hell he is! I have called him a few times over the last 5 years and the GF keeps talking to him in the background so he can’t talk with me–all so familiar. So, that’s the back story. I could write volumes about my father, hence being able to get this out in 1 night vs. 1 week. There’s your drama du jour!

      Talk soon… I really have to go to bed! Omg.
      A 🙂

      • Lol. Don’t worry about the pulp – I thought it was funny! Did not take that personal and our little town was beautiful (at the time – now it sucks).

        And wow, your dad needs help. Seriously. These girls are awful and yes, I think you may be right about the “relation”.

        And I once had an histrionic girlfriend who did the weirdest thing to me. It was when my daughter was really not doing well and I was struggling in so many ways… and she called my brother to tell him I was going out every night, getting drunk, and sleeping around. lol Now that I think of that, I have to laugh at it. Maybe she’s schizophrenic or something. I mean, how do you do these things when you are caring for a sick child and you have no family around? Haven’t spoken to my brother in three years because of this – he still thinks it’s true and my “so called” sister-in-law is the one who supports the histrionic friends – who by the way happens to be a doctor. lol How’s that for a quick and crazy story. I should write a post about it….

        Have a good sleep!

      • So sorry about the relationship with your brother. I’ve spoken with many counselors through the yrs about the ex and I kept getting the histrionic thing. I could put her photo next to it after researching it. It’s a rather scary disease as it’s so destructive to others and is rarely curable. Makes perfect sense she went after you (the female). They have no regard for others.

        My father has NO taste in women–it’s like the trashier the better and who cares how they act since he’s far from functional. He has taste, except with the opposite sex. Even if he ditches this one, he’ll just find another bad one to take her place as he can’t be alone for 24 hrs. He didn’t get that from my grandfather, so I have no clue what’s wrong with him. No one does!

      • I also think that my daughter’s previous psychiatrist may have been histrionic. He wrote all these weird things in her file… making up stories, twisting stuff. So people really have issues.

        Geez, I almost feel bad for your dad.

        So, now go to bed otherwise I will feel guilty!

      • I think it only affects females–hence the name. Just Google it as the symptoms are basic and spot on. I don’t feel sorry for my dad. He’s very smart in certain ways (math, business, etc.), but not well-read. He was so strong when I was young–the alpha wolf you see throughout my male dominated family. He raised me to be like him. He has this weakness for women and he despises weakness, something I learned from him, as well. I have fleeting memories of women when I was younger and he was married to my mother (not that I care)–he is very flirtatious and a big ogler. He’s rather disgusting at times in all honesty. He has always been attractive, even though he is short (lol), and he is quite aware of his dark, Mediterranean looks and women that find him charming. Plus, the gold diggers get a rich man (who’s broke, of course).

      • Oh yes, the word i meant to use was narcissistic rather than histrionic for the psychiatric – and honestly, that was pretty obvious. Geez brain fart.

      • No prob! My meds are kicking in so off to bed! Narcissists go along with histrionics. Avoid both! 🙂

      • Oh and watched the vimeo and wow.. will forward it to my family physician.

      • Wish I could do that–no time in the US w/docs. If you scroll the videos to the right, you’ll find the one with Dr. Francomano (woman), which has the blurb about the testosterone theory and why more females present with symptoms. Makes total sense to me!
        I can’t believe I’m still up, but lights are off and I’m shutting the damn laptop closed!!! My body is a spastic mess! Omg. Nighty night…

      • Thanks!

        Good (day) night!

        xox

      • Hello A! I posted again! Just thought I should let you know…

      • I just saw it in my inbox–must have been a glitch before? I only follow my 1st blogging friends due to my vision so it’s not like I overwhelmed the system! Lol. WP drives me crazy at times. 🙂 Off to your place…

      • Oh how I love your visits dear blogger friend!

  3. dyspatient says:

    What a good post.

    Your dad’s family sounds pretty awful. I had a kid who worked for me with some similar family-with-money crap. Dad playing games with the money, hiding it from the family, setting himself up with a second apartment even, and all the while telling his dyslexic son that he can’t afford to buy him a new laptop when the kid’s current one crapped out (which is what the kid used to run the dictation program he needed to write papers at college). It sure pissed me off.

    Scorpios. About as much fun as a bag of wet cats.

    • Thanks for the compliment! It’s so easy for me to write about my dad, even if in a cliche way (I really wrote that story in my mind when that chain broke so long ago!). Yeah, weird people–well, just 2 of them mainly from that side. It’s from his mother–the evil, 94-yr-old grandmother I don’t talk to anymore. I had enough of her abuse. If only you knew of her beginnings in the LES of NYC in 1918. Maybe I’ll post on it one day. She’s a money hoarder too, unless she needs to go to Neiman’s and on and on. They make me sick-er. My big family with my surname (late grandfather’s side) is much more normal (for a Jewish family!), although there was an estrangement over there, as well, and then my father had major problems with my grandfather, so round and round we go! I grew up with 2 separate Seders for Passover due to all the estranged people. Learned behavior.

      I forgot I mentioned the Scorpio thing–just put his picture next to it. I’m an Aries (if not obvious) so we have similar traits, except that odd fascination they have with the opposite sex, or same sex–whatever. He’s extremely competitive (so annoying), which I think is part-male and part-Scorpio. I wish I could wave a magic wand and turn him into the father I remember, but I remind myself that that man just died in the mid-’80s and I’ll never know why.
      A

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