01/23/2018: Cat’s In The Cradle (Part 1)

It was the beginning of November 1999. I had only been at this job for less than a month, when after returning from lunch, I noticed a note from my supervisor on my desk. The note said that I was log out of my workstation, grab my belongings, and come see him. Of course, my thoughts went to that I must have done something wrong and was being let go. A few people who I had started with had already been let go, so it was not a stretch to think that. Working in tech support was the greatest, but it was a step up from the short-order cook job that I had just left.

My supervisor was in his office when I got there. He told me that my mother had called and I needed to go home immediately. There was no further explanation. So, I left work.

The job I was at was about a mile away from where I lived, so I walked to and from work. It was also uphill, so getting to work was a lot harder than getting home. On my walk home, my brain was racing with trying to figure out what the emergency was. All I could think of was that something happened to my cat. There was a few times that my mom accidentally let him out of the house, and she could not get him to come back in. One time, when I was staying with my (then) girlfriend for a few days, he got out. No one had been able to catch him those few days. But, as soon as I stepped out of my car after those few days, he came running up to me. I was starting to get mad, hoping that it was not something as trivial as that.

When I got home, my mother was on the porch, smoking, as usual. She looked shaken, but I was not feeling sympathetic. The relationship between us had been strained at that point in time. The only reason we lived together is because she did could not afford to move and I was not cold-hearted enough to kick her out. He first words to me were to call my younger brother. Upon going into the living room, I noticed my cat, asleep next to the heater, which is where he liked to sleep when I was not in bed. I called my brother, and he told me, “dad committed suicide.”

For most of my childhood, my dad had not been around. There is a very long story, so I’ll try to summarize. He and my mother had a bad marriage, and divorced when I about three years old. The judge had awarded custody of my brothers and I to my mom with visitations to my dad. But, my mom ended up moving out-of-state, which made it difficult for him to visit. We still communicated via phone and letters, until around the time I was in 2nd Grade. That was when my mom’s boyfriend ripped the phone out of the wall and our mom would not let us talk to our dad. The next time we had seen him was when were teenagers. We had moved back in-state and mom applied for public assistance, which notified him. He ended up having to take her to court to make her honor the visitation agreement again.

Like I said, it is a long story, so I will just say that, through the court proceedings and after, we found out that our mom lied to us about a lot of things regarding our dad, in order to get back at him for divorcing her. The court withheld the original visitation decree from their divorce and told our mom that she had to allow us to visit again or would be found in contempt and jailed. This started us down the path to getting to know our dad again. And, within the next few years, we forged a very strong bond with him.

A little over a year prior, my younger brother and his family had moved to Seattle to be around my dad. And, I had made plans to also move within the next year. My dad and I had been talking via email, with the most recent being a few weeks prior to his death. There was no indication of his suicidal tendencies, but as I well know, the indicators are not always there. You see, in 1997, I had attempted suicide. If I had not received medical attention when I did, the attempt would have worked. To this day, we did not know the exact reason why our dad killed himself, but there are a few different reasons why we think he did.


About Thomas J. Brown

I am the last true Saiyan...wait, that can't be right...
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