I received news this evening that Joe Appel is “not doing well” and then received confirmation from my brother that he’s dying. Joe Appel was my biological mothers second husband, he’s the father of my little brother Ryan and little sister Amy. For most of my life my last name was Appel, I was adopted by Joe after he married my mother. For all of my childhood Joe was “Dad” at some point I knew he was my adoptive dad. I have some memories of the day that happened, I remember being dressed up in case the judge wanted to talk to me. He was all I knew I had as a Dad.
Through my memories I see his fists flying into my mother, onto her face, into her body. I see her battered and bruised, I see blood on his fists that is likely hers and not his. I recall night after night of drunkenness where we lie frightened in our bedrooms wondering if tonight would be another night that we’d hear her scream.
I recall the nights we spent in battered women shelters after one of those incidents - it never occurred to me when I was young, but as I type this and remember that place was full of families just like mine. The strange smells, the odd noises the crying in the cot not three feet from where you were curled up. That was better than the violence in our own home.
We’d never know when it would be safe to go home, many a time we’d run away Mom and us, to a friends or to a shelter or to Grandmas. One time in particular he threatened to kill the cats if we didn’t come back right then.
I recall only a few times when his fist hit me, I know he’s beat my brother senseless on many occasions. I don’t know if he hit Amy and Dawn, I have no memory of it happening, but my memories fade more each day.
I remember distinctly a visit to his parents house where he started to beat on my mom and his family joined in. That was the day they didn’t matter to me anymore.
He was, is, a monster. He would beat on Mom and then we’d get away or he’d get arrested… but he always came back, like a bad penny. I don’t think he has any remorse or regret for the pain he inflicted – hell I doubt he thinks he did anything wrong at all.
I can’t say that I’m sorry to hear he’s dying, not when I’ve know good men that have died too young. Why would this bastard son-of-a-bitch get to live this long, drinking every day of his life and beating on people that depended on him as he wanted. Sure he’s spent some time in jail, but not enough. Sure he’s probably had some pain, but not nearly enough. He’s a veteran, doesn’t matter, doesn’t give a license to treat human being that way. He’s sick, doesn’t matter that’s not a get out of jail card either.
Part of me can’t help but think back on all the times Mom would call from the hospital or the nut house saying “I’m dying” and we’d all rush home to be there and she’d disappoint us again – that sounds harsh no? but that’s what it was at the end for me one more time she couldn’t just go, just quit being sick and tired and go.
So now I think about Joe, yes, it’s time to die – but there’s no way you’ve suffered enough. No damn way.