I didn't know the man personally. Mark always hated his guts and gave me all of the reasons why. As his friend I could only know what he told me about it, and therefore share the disregard he felt for his father. Even though he lived right there on the South Side, Mark never visited him. He would go out of his way to drop his brother off there or visit his cousin around the corner and deliberately not go into his father's house.
None of them really talked about their dad much, even Louie who respected him to some extent and even lived with him for awhile. It was always just one of those things you know about your friend's family life, not a big deal but in that little roledex of facts that you knowing about shows how close you are to a person. I knew I would never meet him. Mark never seemed to care.
But now that his dad unexpectedly died of a heart attack, he's having alot of trouble dealing with it. I mean obviously its a huge traumatic event when a parent dies, even one you didn't see often. But there's some weird added element of guilt or lack of closure when there was a grudge between you and the deceased. Although Mark said he never wanted to reconcile with his father, now he is left wishing he had and realizing he'll never have that chance now.

Few people _really_ hate parents enough to disregard their deaths. In fact, most of the time it is harder for those that "hated" their parents because then they feel very guilty for never coming to peace with them.

Sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing at all. Or if you don't know what to say, then acknowledge this; "I don't know what to say" can be oddly comforting in its own right. Either way, what's important is to let the other person lead for a short while, and see if you can pick up cues as to what to do from their actions.

It took me years to learn this one, and I screwed up a more than one close friendship by not realizing it sooner. Trust me, it's worth knowing.

Charlotte's mother took her on holiday at the time of the trial. I suppose it was wise. In a world where teachers, cartoons, the bible, tell you to respect your father, it can be confusing enough just hearing "Your Dad's a monster", as she so often did. I don't think anyone thinks it was wrong of her mother to stop her from reading that very thing on the front page of newspapers.

Of course, she learnt eventually.

Around the time we became friends, her father got out of jail. She also first heard from a potential brother she had in London; their stories matched as did names, but for her father to have also produced this particular sproglet, he would have had to be 12 at the time of conception. Despite this, she knew of six or seven of her half- siblings, with her estimates of a total number being somewhere around the 20 mark.

The father had a three mile restraining order from Charlotte's cousin (in my opinion 300 miles would have been more appropriate), but despite this the police didn't seem to care he moved in just two streets over upon release. They didn't seem to care that the family had to see him strolling to the shops, or cruising past in his car, enjoying freedoms no-one thought he deserved. Somehow, he only served ten years.

A massive coronary.

He died in his front garden in the middle of the night to be found by early morning commuters the next day. Knowing nothing of his past, they yelled for help, called an ambulance, and even attempted CPR on the already frigid body before he was pronounced dead.

She told me with the attitude of not giving a damn, and I genuinely believe that was the attitude she had. If anything the death was convenient as it got him out of their lives, and I saw no mourning. I don't know if it tore her up inside, and she kept it so expertly hidden, but surely having her father do the things that he did tore her up enough to start with.

Did I know what to say? At the time I felt I did;- very little on the issue and I suggested we grab lunch, but reading this node makes me wonder if I was wrong to not instead sit in friendly silence to see if she had anything more to add. I hope she didn't just want me to listen, whereas I just wanted a pannini.

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