A Long and Complicated Story – Genetics and Environment
I was born Jared Lee Ritter, October 17th 1973 through what would probably be now deemed horrific circumstances.
My mother was young. My father was young.
Were they ready to have a child? Who the hell knows?
I know enough about the scene at the hospital (grandpa drunk, dad not around) to know that in 1973 this was sort of par for the course. At least in my neck of the woods.
But I had a mom who was raised to “make it on her own” and that is exactly what she did.
While her dad had built up an incredible business and hung out with the likes of elder Tyson on their wild trips to Mexico in one of their Cessna’s, he had issues.
Her was really good at business. Really good at numbers. And if you deem “success” by those things, he was one of the most successful in that part of the country.
So as my mom was conditioned to do, she was given a rental house (after my grandfather gave 30 days notice) and in the middle of the night we took off from Tulsa to live in little Pineville, MO
I was around two, and have very little to no memories of this period of my life. What am I learning now is that this period of my life has had a HUGE impact on who I am today. Anxieties, fears, trust, etc.
While my grandparents could have allowed her to finish an education and spend more time with me, they did what their parents would have done and positively reinforced her hard work (3 jobs at times and school at night) and I would hide behind the chair when the clock got a little late at the baby sitter’s house.
This was one of my baby sitter’s. The other killed herself, not in my presence, but as a psychology guy you know her mental state that preceding year was not healthy.
And children pick up on “energies” which is why it’s so vital who we place them with.
Now fast forward.
I needed a place to stay in my mid 20’s after another crash and burn period. I stayed briefly in a cabin behind my grandma and dad’s place. He had been on dialysis for about 7 years at this time. She was his caretaker for better or worse, but he got around fine.
During the 3 years I moved back to run a family business I got to take him to Tulsa once a month for his checkups. He was the longest running man still on dialysis home machine and his stubborn ways (and meticulous details) meant he was surviving.
A few strokes later (a couple of which I was right there close by) it become harder and harder for him to function.
During those trips to Tulsa I got to know the person I was, or shades of who I was. DNA is strong folks. I am a liberal, cosmic understanding, Democrat (at least lean that way) with ideologies that never fit in to the conditions laid out by my step dad.
Don’t get me wrong, my step dad showed up at every game, challenged me in sports, was funny, and I have many good memories. BUT we are not the same person and I keep thinking he thought I was just “off track” versus understanding I was “on track.”
In my 20’s I was sent to drug rehab a few times and once I was pulled out (they do not do this) and I came to watch him die. I cried beside his bed and said goodbye.
Well, he made it. He’s a tough cookie.
I don’t know all the details of why he does not have a new kidney now, but I do know that for 8 years I fueled chemical use because of guilt it should be me. We have the same blood type.
What did I owe him? What if my kidney’s were bad? Both of his were functioning at around 5%.
He managed to have a good life watching and reading political banter on CSPAN and researching things that interested him.
He’s an artist. A knapper. He used to travel around and sell his arrow heads at shows.
I see myself more and more in him as I age, and that’s why this trip feels so important.
I want my son to “see me” …not just “see me” literally but “see into my soul”
This idea to travel back and create a GoFundMe is more than just seeing him recover, or if I got lucky be there for the procedure (he is number one on the list in Missouri and final blood work and tests are done in December) but more a chance to just say a few things.
Look him in the eye. And not let him pass away without his only son saying “I get you” and while I think you fucked up a lot, and I wish your insecurity and self doubt did not plague you so much, we could have been great friends. Maybe the best of friends.
So Alive Ritter is my father. We have fought, nearly went to blows, and we love each other like a father and son should.
I’m not short changing the role of adopted fathers or my own wonderful step father who gave me everything I asked for. Basketball practice, track practice every day, business events in Joplin, and so much more. He too was and is a jerk sometimes, but I think dad’s have that in them.
My son Neo is teaching me to forgive, to be a bit less bitter about the past, and hopefully show him that by me forgivign some horrific things, he can forgive the world for anything that comes his way.
Folks, this is why I want to come home. We sold every fucking thing to get here. We have no income yet, and I get pissed off daily at the fact that I think we left too soon, but I can’t change that…..but I can take action to make a trip home for 2 weeks, see my grandma and dad I have not seen in 5 years and maybe, just maybe….some healing will occur.