So, there is a commercial for Extra Chewing gum. Yes, I said chewing gum. In this commercial a father hands his daughter a stick of gum and then makes an oragami bird out of the wrapper and gives it to her. This goes on through her life, on the way to a ball game, teenage angst while she’s crying and finally as she is moving out, her Dad is helping her load the car and he drops a box and it spills hundreds of little oragami birds all over the driveway. Awww, touching and so sweet. And it pisses me off every time.
I would have done anything to have that special bond with my Dad. Even after I had moved back to Rolla after my 1st marriage had tanked, I would go over to one of his apartments that he was remodeling and try to help him. Most of the time it ended with him getting frustrated and throwing something bellowing out his usual litney of profanities, “God-damn, Mother-fucking, cock-sucking Son of a BITCH”. I think that is why I make sure I mix it up. I don’t want anyone to be able to predict what I am going to say. Looking back, I know part of his frustration was the fact that he wanted to be at home sitting in his lounge chair drinking beer and trying to escape from the demons that pursued him his whole life.
I can count on one hand the number of times that my Dad has told me that he loved me. For Mom, probably both hands. If my kids and I are around my parents, we are always hugging and kissing each other and telling each other that we love them, Mom (Bless her heart) always tries to hug me-but it just comes across as ackward.
In a way I get it. Neither of them were raised with any amount of hugging and people telling you they loved you. I wasn’t either, but I knew that I wanted MORE for my kids. I wanted them to know how special each of them are and that they were both smart, funny and could do ANYTHING they set their mind out to do. I was raised in a house where my Dad would tell me that he couldn’t wait until I turned 18 so I “could get the hell out of his house” so I did.
When my oldest grandbaby was born, I bought a book called, “Grandmother Remembers” that you basically just go through and fill out with memories of your childhood. I started filling it out and it brought back alot of shit that I had blocked on purpose. No, thank you. Lived through it once.
There were times that were good and fun, and usually ended with Dad getting drunk and getting mean, and more likely than not, beating the shit out of three little kids who had no idea what the fuck they were getting beat for. He used his belt and he could unbuckle it and pull it out in one fluid motion. He also had a razor strop. When we lived in “the old house” (our house burned to the ground when I was in 4th grade) we would see his truck coming up the lane and we would run out the back door into the woods. You never wanted to be there when he first got home. You didn’t have to “do” anything. You just had to be there.
The resentment that bubbled up for my Mother is because she would stand there and wring her hands and say, “Don!! Don stop!!” She let a mean, nasty-tempered ASSHOLE beat her kids. What THE actual Fuck, Georgia? When I confronted her years later she told me that “those were different times. they didn’t have all of the programs to help you like they do now.” My response? I called Bullshit. She stayed with my Dad for the same reason my sister stays with the abusive asshole she is married to-because it’s easier. I didn’t say it was fucking EASY and I didn’t say it was FUN. I worked my ass off, everyday and did without a lot so my kids could grow up SECURE in the knowledge that I loved them and I would protect them from anything evil.
Michael and I had been married several months when we had a disagreement about something and he said something that I didn’t agree with so I popped off some smart ass remark and then I threw my hands up in front of my face. He looked at me in total shock and said, “Holy shit! Did you think I was going to hit you?” Absolutely. Michael is my fourth husband and the first one who doesn’t have an abusive bone in his body. I got lucky. Up until THAT point I had NO idea that it could be any different. It can be.
When we were working on a project, if Michael had a question about plumbing or electrical, he would say, “Hey call your Dad and ask him……” I would look at the clock and if it was past 6:00-6:30, I’d just smile and tell him that I would call tomorrow. Once Dad went home and started drinking, he was mean and I refuse to put myself through that.
When Dad was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, Mother told me that they were going to do the surgery the following week. I asked her if she had told Dad’s Doctor that Dad was an alcoholic. She told me that she couldn’t do that or Dad would kill her. I told her that if she didn’t the surgery could kill Dad. So she did and the Doctor cancelled the surgery until Dad had quit drinking for 3 months. He never drank again.
In the years immediately following the surgery, he was nice, and patient and funny. I would catch myself thinking that I wish that THIS guy had raised me. Then one day he was sitting out by my pool and a friend and I were floating around and he told her that when his kids were little, he only had to look at them and they would behave. He never even had to raise a finger. I was in total disbelief that he wouldn’t even acknowledge being a horrible father. Doesn he owe all of us an apology. Of course. Am I expecting one. No.
I have always maintained that there is a fine line between respect and fear. And I do not live in fear anymore and I have no respect for someone who can’t own up to their own actions. Denial is not a river in Egypt……