About the part that was excluded

My father died five days ago. My youngest brother learned of his death via Facebook, of all things, four days after the fact. The obituary paints a sleek portrait of a beautiful man who climbed mountains and adored animals. A mountain of a man, some might say of John Allred.

To be sure, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an impressive accomplishment. Taking in and loving animals are acts of humanity. But it is commonly accepted—across time and throughout cultures—that one of the most meaningful things a person can do is to become a parent. To omit this portion of my father’s life with only a passing mention to “children from a previous marriage,” reduces the wholeness of it, and conveniently obliterates any truth of who he was at the very core of his being.

US in the snow

Aaryn Greer Allred

John Derek Allred

Corey Braden Allred

Those are the names of John’s three children. My brothers and I are real people with full, rich, complicated lives. We are not hypothetical afterthoughts. We are not apparitions. Except in the way our father treated us.

It deserves to be said that before marrying Susan Creager, “the love of his life,” John was married briefly to Leslie Kennedy, and then for 13 years to my amazing, resilient mother, Gaydi Shore. It could be argued that Leslie and my mother were also the loves of John’s life at one time.

Though it ended in divorce, my parents marriage began as a love affair, the kind any person could hope to experience in a lifetime.

mom and dad

To this day, despite the inevitable implosion of their relationship, I still love to hear the many stories of my parents’ courtship. Often at the holidays, I’ll ask my mother to recount—again—their wedding at the former Hotel Utah; the time she spent with my father in Germany; how he taught her to drive stick shift in their old Porsche; how much they wanted to have a baby. For all the trauma that was to follow those happier days, there is no doubt my brothers and I were conceived in love.

Ultimately, John chose to exile me from his life, and to a different extent, he did the same with my brothers. He chose this path with the full support and complicity of Susan, a woman with endless space in her heart for animals in need, but no such capacity for John’s children.

In addition to my brothers and me, John is survived by two granddaughters: The lovely and inimitable 12-year-old Maisie; and seven-year-old Ruby, a most magical and glorious child whom John never had the desire to know. A third granddaughter will make the world a better place when she arrives this spring. It is my hope that Baby Doris will bring healing to my brother, as he will have the opportunity to become the kind of father he never had, but always deserved.

In the end, a man can summit the highest peaks in the world and rescue every pitbull at the shelter. But the true measure of his character—of his humanity—is plainly visible in the way he treats his children.

 

19 Responses to About the part that was excluded

  • Kris says:

    Wow, this is heartbreaking. Made even more so for me because I knew Susan Creager and her family for years when I was a child. I remember Susan as intelligent, kind, and, yes, very “into” animals, especially her beloved horse, Tony. To see that obituary and see the coldness and utter lack of empathy from her is so sad to me. I’m so sorry, both for your loss and for the lost relationship you should have been able to have, both with your father and with Susan.

    Kris

    • Kris says:

      A small post-script. Reading back over your blog, I have to say that–well, that I LIKE you. It’s been fun and interesting. I especially enjoy the politics and education pieces.

      Kris

  • Deb says:

    Aaryn, I’m just reading this post now and can’t fathom how that cavalier, dismissive, “He is also survived by children of a prior marriage” statement affected you. I DO know this: that sentence implied a subtext of callousness and insensitivity that no matter how many dogs were rescued and given a good home by the obituary’s writer and subject, nothing measures up to children rescued.

    In a snarky moment, may I also say that the “In 1992 he married the love of his life, Susan Creager…” was obviously written by the “love of his life.”

    And, even though you’ve moved onto such more amazing things, I’m still sorry for this cutting-out of your dad’s life in print (and surely in person); there’s no excuse for anyone perpetuating that after his death.

  • shannnon says:

    He is also survived by children from a prior marriage? Who the hell would ever put that in an obituary? Being through many deaths involving family members with troubled relationships, I can’t imagine anyone being so purposely hurtful. Relationship with them or not, this shows (I think) the ultimate self-centeredness, lack of respect and failure as a human being on her part. How could she? How rude.

  • Geraldine says:

    Many thanks for composing “About the part that was excluded | thematically fickle.
    ”. I actuallymay surely wind up being back again for a lot more reading and commenting
    here shortly. Many thanks, Tom

  • I am sorry for your loss – your father lost even more by not knowing you and your brothers and your wonderful children.

  • Melinda says:

    As always, your writing is profound and moves me. I am so sorry that this piece represents such pain and loss for you Aaryn. You are a strong and resilant woman.

  • lyn Taylor says:

    Dear Aaryn — I have been having trouble trying to post. Hope this works.

    My cousin–and yours–Michael Greer (He is Allred-related two ways: His grandfather, Cy Greer, married Bess Allred, who was the sister of your grandfather Frank, who married Anne Greer, your grandmother, Cy’s sister. I think I’ve got that right.) sent me your dad’s obituary. Otherwise I would not have known as I don’t read the local paper; I like to pretend I live in another world. I wanted to write to you, but I’ve lost your email address. On a hunch I googled you and lo! there you were. I think I read your farewell to your newspaper column and thought that meant farewell to your blog. How could I have supposed you would abandon your fans? Anyway, I sent the obituary on to Suzan, along with your blog posting, which I also sent to Michael. He’s a lover of good writing and is definitely going to follow you.

    I loved your words in response to that awful confection of an obituary. (My, my, who was that person?) You gave life and history to his family, and thus to him. There are members of your extended family here in Utah who know the truths of which you speak and were so happy to have them spoken.

    My love to you and your family. I do so look forward to following your continuing adventures.

    Lyn

  • Nelson Knight says:

    I never met John, but he and his acts were certainly a force in my life as I observed the pain he caused you and your brothers and mom. My best to you, Derek, Corey, Ether Mether and your families, and thanks for finding joy in your lives despite it all and for being so articulate about a man and a situation that remains a mystery to me.

  • Patricia says:

    Aaryn, I’m so proud of your strength and perspective. I’m also proud of my Dad for his comments (and much more). He said it all, and I only feel sad that your father didn’t see the true gifts he always had in time to appreciate you all. To have an adult relationship with his children, and to know and love his grand daughter. Truly his loss.

  • Martha says:

    Beautifully written, Aaryn.

  • Incredulous! It is difficult to understand how insecurity and selfishness of even the fiercest breed can so distort the natural human condition. Ms. Susan Creager may eventually come to see the pain and unnecessary grief she has inflicted by her small, crippled brain’s gesture of meanness. Her behavior is so foul, that it verges on the worst , failed black humor. One can only surmise that she was, and remains, insecure, angry, envious and afraid of Gaydi’s wit, beauty, intelligence, grace and loving character. I think Creager has just written her own obituary, now etched in the stone of the Obituary Page of the Tribune. It precedes, and will follow her to her own grave. If it weren’t winter, I would order her a dozen black roses. She is best seen by looking at her through the wrong end of a spy glass. It makes everything appear very small. My love goes out to Gaydi. And as for Aaryn, Derek and Corey? This FATHER, in love, adopts this handsome trio!

    • Aaryn says:

      I love you so, so, so much M. Ray Kingston. I’d say I love you for this, but I have loved you long before this.
      Thank you. Thank you. *Weeping* Thank you.

    • Gaydi Allred says:

      Ray Kingston, you are a gentle compassionate discerning non-judgmental man. Your comments are so spot on, it makes me hyperventillate! Thank you for standing up for my extraordinary children (& me) in such an articulate way.
      It takes my breath away.
      Thank you.

  • Suzan says:

    Sweet Aaryn. What a beautiful post. Glad someone could express what all of us felt when reading the obit. That first photograph is how I remember you three when we all lived on 1st Ave. Hope you all are well. Send our love to your mom, Derek and Corey, and of course you, from Suzan and George from “across the street”.

    • Aaryn says:

      Susan! I have thought of you and George from across the street so many times over the years. I don’t know how you found my piece, but thank you so much for leaving a comment. It means so much to me. I will relay your message of solidarity and love to my mom and the boys. I know it will mean as much to them as it does to me. I hope you are well, happy, healthy, all of it. I hope you are all of it. xo. ~aaryn

  • Jared says:

    As I can call both of your brothers (the elder of which sent me here) true friends in the greatest sense, it pains me to share in the incredulity inspired by your father’s obituary. In reading the obituary, I was hoping for a surprise that never came. Thank you for putting into succinct, appropriate words what I imagine your brothers to be feeling as well.

    I’m sorry for your loss, present and past.

  • Mary says:

    It’s obvious the insecurity that authored that obituary. Even so, DAMN. I’m sorry for your loss…not the recent one so much as the loss of an involved and caring father for so many years. I’m frankly appalled at the wording of the obit.

  • San says:

    I think I will never understand how some people direct their anger/insecurities/resentment at someone’s children. Whatever has happened to prompt a divorce between your Mom and Dad has nothing to do with you and your brothers and your Dad’s last wife should have realized that. It’s a shame that “adults” still act in such childish, hurting ways.

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