My parents, I mean. After, like, a decade of divorce.
Because they sprung that on me last year while I was in California, half-heartedly trying to convince my dad that he needed to sign a Deed of Transfer because his dementia was getting severe, and it was right before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
The deed signing did not go well. Why would it go well? He is the military commander, I was the little soldier; why would the roles ever be reversed? I was trying to steal from him, his words.
He also said that my “bad friend” had corrupted me, “turned me American,” and he was not going to sign any paperwork because he was still alive. He also signed my health care directive to my aunt, because he doesn’t trust my mother or me.
So, you know, in case you were wondering how my relationship with my dad is, there you are.
Did I tell you that technically that either parent didn’t tell me they were getting married until I had to drive them there? Up until that point, they both told me they had to file some paperwork - maybe I subconsciously knew, but at the time I was just assumed it had to do with property. And I guess in a warped way it does? Because when we rolled into that administrative office in Oakland Chinatown that handled services for Chinese immigrants, and the lady kicked off the conversation with, “so you’re here for the marriage license?” I just kinda sat there numb, while Mom and Dad bickered over what to put in “place of groom’s parents.”
My parents stood like ten feet apart when the Mandarin-speaking officiant came down from the eighth floor to conduct the fifteen-minute civil ceremony. My mom openly remarked that “she didn’t look like a minister,” where she was reminded twice it was because she wasn’t a minister, but an officiant, and it was a civil ceremony.
It took my dad twenty minutes to repeat his vows.
It took my mom too long to answer “I do” in Chinese.
I begged the officiant not to say “you may kiss the bride.” She did not. They did not.
As we all exited city hall, my mom bellowed in Mandarin to a crowd that no one could understand, “you BETTER put my name on everything you own now.” No one understood. Neither to my dad, because he never did. Forgot. You know, dementia.
Both have said to me, in different tones and reasons, that I was the trigger for caused all of this. Perhaps I am. I feel more exhausted than guilty.
Kareem has asked me to write a screenplay scene about it. I did a couple of weeks ago. It’s pretty funny. Maybe I’ll do something with it, someday.
So if dad doesn’t trust mom, why did they get married? So he could take care of her. His words. Didn’t want to die alone is more my guess, and no other valid options exist because of Angela. It’s the least shitty of a bunch of shitty options. Mom was having trouble paying bills because Dad had previously signed the checks. First, those checks were signed. Then they were signed in Chinese. My guess is that getting remarried was an attempt to, like, combine fifteen wrongs to desperately try to make that right.
Mom calls every day still, but she’s resentful now. She’s resentful that she has to drive dad everywhere, resentful that my aunt’s name is on legal and financial paperwork, not hers. (It’s the right decision; it’s an even longer story.) Two weeks ago, her breaking point was when her twenty-year-old dryer broke down and she had to dry her clothes on a clothesline.
Two days ago, I bought her a dryer from Best Buy, purchased from Florida, delivered to California. Yesterday, she thanked me.
Later that night, she told me the original dryer wasn’t broken after all; a fuse switch hadn’t been turned on.
Keep the change, ma.