March 4, 2008

time heals all wounds

My parents split and divorced when I was around five years old. I have a memory of one of their last encounters as a couple "breaking up" etched into my memory. They were fighting and my mom told him to leave the apartment we were living in across the street from the local high school. He was pissed, climbed into his old, yellow, Chevy pick-up truck, screamed at the very overweight neighbor lady to "mind your own business, you fat bitch" and sped off. The kind of speeding off you do when you are really trying to get your point across about just how pissed off you are with screeching tires and clouds of burnt rubber filling the air.

This is how I forever remember my biological father. As a hot head. Never sure if he was going to happy to see you or mad at the world around him and taking it on you. After the divorce I rarely saw him. He skirted his responsibility as a father in more ways than one. He left my mother in a lurch financially and psychologically. He was and still is to this day not a well man. As an adult I understand that he self medicated himself with drugs to fight the demons he battled with, which as we all know, only makes the demons worse and harder to battle. But that doesn't leave the child in me feeling any less bitter, angry and hurt by his actions.

When I was eight, he had met another women and together they had a baby girl. My half sister. I think my step-mother tried to make a real effort after her daughter was born to ease any hurts and bring us together as some semblance of a family. This moment in time leaves me with another very vivid memory of my father. This time he didn't screech off leaving in a trail of anger, but instead he broke down. It was and still is the only time I had ever seen my father vulnerable.

He and my step-mom had been arguing. I can make many assumptions as to what was the cause, but only being eight at the time, I won't. I was confused. One minute he and I were eating banana Popsicles on the couch, watching old reruns of Batman together. The next he was loading me up in a car to take me home. But this time was different. Instead of driving me home in silence, before he even started the car, he cried. Telling me how much he loved me and how sorry he was. For everything. That was the last and only time we ever communicated as a father and a daughter.

After that, I didn't see or hear from the family of three much at all. Around holidays. A phone call on my birthday. Here and there. Random. As time went by, the months between visits became more and more. A year or two would pass without either of us realizing it. In many ways I was made to feel guilty for not keeping in contact with him. Which only pushed me further away. I was living my own battles with a single mother, stumbling through life. There were many, many, many situations I could have really used a father to lean on and not just for money. But for love and support. A cheering section if nothing else.

"God man!!! If only you could have realized that early on. The trouble you would have saved us both. Seriously!!!"

One of the very last weekends I spent in his house, I slept on the couch. The two kitties they had woke me up super early. The world still dark. Everyone sleeping. I heard him walked down the hallway getting ready to leave for work, my step-mother in charge of getting me home. He wrangled up the kittens and I laid still pretending to be asleep. I'm not sure why. I wonder sometimes, if I had let him know I was awake too if we would have had a father-daughter moment. Him, sober from the early hour, and me. I'll never know.

What I do know is when I got home after that last visit, I found these two in the bottom of my bag. He collected figurines like these out of tins of tea he liked. I showed favor towards the cute dogs and he secretly gave them to me.

Now, some 22 years later, they live in my medicine cabinet. With every stroke of deodorant. With every application of eye cream. There they are. A little reminder. They sometimes remind me of him and his very guarded tender side. They sometimes remind to forgive and to let go. They sometimes remind me of my half-sister and a relationship I know she wants. A relationship I'm unsure I'm able to give. They sometimes remind me I am strong. They sometimes remind me to kiss my children and make sure they know I love them with every ounce of my soul. They sometimes remind me of how I want to grow old with my husband and vacation in Hawaii with him as often as possible. They sometimes remind me that I love dogs! But mostly they remind me to keep moving forward. To break the cycle. To believe in myself because I'm worth it.

1 comment:

Jada2929 said...

What a heart wrenching and moving glimpse into your history. Really, thanks for sharing your story.