It was about when Farley died that John had started to take a real interest in model railroading. He thought of it as an excellent way to unwind after a hard day's work. His dad, of course, had a different idea of things. According to his pop, John was hiding away from his family because he didn't have the guts or brains to parent. Like he'd know. He didn't even think that shipping Mike and Liz off to Danny's farm to get them to cut the lip was a great idea. The last real conversation he'd had with his father that wasn't on point concluded with the older Patterson saying "Oh, look at me! I'm John [expletive deleted] Patterson! My child has free will and I hate it! Time to ship him to a hobby farm to be sniped at by a bearded failure and his lantern-jawed heifer of a daughter!"
Nope. It was like that Fresh Prince character said...parents just don't understand. As an example, Elly's dad seemed to be laboring under the misapprehension that they were willing themselves to forget that April even existed. He didn't want to openly disrespect the man in front of anyone but it was clear that his judgment was a wee bit off. John had realized this when he'd overheard the old boy tell Phil that he was going to prove to the world that he could raise a daughter that wouldn't live her life all wrong. Senility on that scale kind of scared John.
Why couldn't he be like that swell fellow with the tidy little house he'd had his eye on for a retirement cottage? There was a chap with his head on his shoulders. What the world needed was more men with straight priorities like Gordon and Anthony. Gordon Mayes, John thought, was more of a son to him than the ooky-booky artsy type he didn't realize he'd raised while Anthony was like a second version of himself. It was thus something of a misfortune that just as Mike had settled down and put all that literary stuff of his to some sort of use that Liz and Anthony drifted apart. She went through an odd assortment of nomadic (and, although John would never admit it to himself, intimidating) love interests while Anthony fell in the clutches of a crazy woman. John had never met this Therese person but from what he understood, she wanted all sorts of weird things for everyone. Heck, she even made the same baffling noise Elly used to make about how she felt overwhelmed by domestic life. Trying to figure that out in a way that didn't involve admitting that not all women were cut out to parent was as hard as trying to figure out what April was complaining about all the time.
Oh, if it wasn't one thing, it was another. "Mike keeps leaving his stuff in my 'room' and people expect me to keep track of it all", "When can I have a room of my own again?", "Why does no one listen to me?", "I feel like I'm living in a dungeon", "You love your stupid trains more than you love me", pick, pick, pick. What was the bloody problem? She was going to University in a year anyway so why should where she lived matter? It was like dealing with that bafflingly long trial for Howard. You'd think it would be a simple matter of saying "He did it" and then off to jail. He'd told the judge that and been asked "What's your deal, jackass? You in Grade Four or something? You have to be to think that we can just fire on through so you can go back to standing around like a moron watching your kids drink bleach."
Typical. No one saw how simple the world could be. I mean, just when things had finally gone the right way, Mike showed up talking about going to see some sort of shrink. Waste of money, that. Worse still, Liz upped and left Anthony. It was about then that he'd finally met this Therese person. Weird woman, her. She'd led off by asking why he hated her and finished by saying "So I had to endure all this torment because you needed to get a firmer stranglehold on your pet greasemonkey? Good to know. That's almost as nice as having to be treated like Eva Freaking Braun because some brain-dead hick who got himself a dentist's diploma is too stunned and selfish to admit that he just might be wrong about something."
As bad as she was, the judge (the same one who let him down by being so light on Bunt) went out of his way to say the worst, cruelest things about him. He called John an 'insensitive, callous, narrow-minded bully with a love of arbitrary and self-serving decisions predicated on nonsensical prejudices that he's too craven and witless to question'.
Ah, well. Bloodied but unbowed, he went on in the face of the irrational persecution of those who simply didn't know how the world was supposed to be. It was in that spirit that he and Elly had a nice quiet dinner so they could have a bit of a break. He was just about to say that she'd finally got dinner done right when he felt the most awful pain he'd ever fel....
John Patterson died of a massive heart attack with his face covered in tuna casserole. Elly died on the operating table after a second massive ischemic stroke. Neither of them learned a damned thing after first grade.