Saturday, September 01, 2007



It wasn't an accumulation of things.

It should have been. But it wasn't.

When I was one, my Dad threw my Mom down a flight of stairs. She walked in the pouring rain, bleeding, to the nearest payphone. No one stopped or offered help. She had to whisper where she was to my Grandmother because the fall had broken all of her ribs. After my father was served with divorce papers, he set fire to my Mother's things. This included a rocking chair that had been in my family for five generations. My Mom and I moved into an apartment next to railroad tracks. Sometimes in the middle of the night, you could hear my Father bashing in her car over the blare of the train horns.

I saw my Dad on and off from the age of two through eight. He went to jail several times. Three times for possession of drugs and once for shooting at a girlfriend. He would always take me to Red Lobster on his visits, filling the table with anything I wanted. We'd go shopping and take trips to amusement parks. He'd light up a joint and tell me it was our little secret, that Mom would take me away if she knew. When he knew he had my silence, he started taking me to drug houses. I was nine when I found out what coke was. A fifteen year old girl showed me her stash while my Dad and her Mom played with needles upstairs.

Once my Father had convinced my Mom he was trustworthy, I started spending weekends with him at his twinkie trailer. We shared a bedroom for awhile, until my Mom told him I needed my own room and he kicked me out to the couch. He took advantage of the "privacy" by inviting girlfriends over. He always had six or seven. None of them knew about the others and it was my job to remember their names and not slip up. Each night's sleep was broken by the sounds of squeaking bed springs, or the yells of the women as they exited the trailer after a beating. I never asked. He never offered details.

Christmas night, 1993, my Dad had just finished a case of beer. I was going through my presents when a small stack of "Boys II Men" CDs caught his eye. He tossed them out into the snow and told me I could either give them up or leave. So I left. Fortunately, I had a friend who only lived a couple blocks away. I didn't sleep well that night and headed home just after dawn. I knocked on the trailer door for twenty minutes before my Dad let me in. On the couch, MY couch, sat a woman with a bashed up face. She never looked at me. She didn't even speak when my Dad ordered her to the car. He paid her with the Christmas money my Grandfather had given me.

In the winter of 2005, my Dad came to stay for a month. He was on the lamb, but he seemed of good mind and health. During his stay we built a fence around my yard for the dogs. He cooked pasta sauces and canollis while I was at work. When he wasn't cooking he was fixing my car or making landscape plans for the spring. We went to movies and took pictures down town. I thought he was a changed man. He said he'd quit drinking and doing drugs and I wanted to believe him. I wanted him to be the father I never got as a kid, the one I always felt I deserved. But things had changed by the next time he came around. He didn't laugh or smile anymore. No food waited for me when I got home. It was like a light had gone out for good...

Two nights before I kicked my father out, I found my stash of liquor. I'd hidden them in my bedroom closet. They were all empty. Then I found out from the lady at the gas station that he'd been stealing my car at night and driving to the store for beer. He called my friends at 2am rambling threats and apologies. I came home each afternoon from work to find that he was still sleeping. Our conversations stopped making sense. He became erratic and confrontational. It started with an argument over my bamboo plant, which he insisted I take outside and plant. "You're killing it!" he screamed. I realized right then that he was completely drunk.

I dug around in the trash until I found an empty vodka bottle. I pleaded with him to get his life together. I loved him. I'd always loved him, despite his many faults. But he didn't want my love anymore. "You're not my daughter!" He screamed in my face. Which was the scariest thing of all. Because being his daughter was the only thing that had ever saved me from his wrath. "You're someone else's kid. You were supposed to be your Mom's fourth abortion. But I stopped her. I saved you!" It wasn't true. None of it. But he continued screaming it for the next hour. He almost won. He'd already convinced himself that my life was forfeit, and my heart was completely broken.

But somehow I managed to stand my ground. I told him to get out. I told him that if he truly believed that I wasn't his kid, then he didn't need to be in my house anymore. He was gone in the morning. I never saw him again. He text me a few months later with an apology. But I didn't reply. Then his number got discontinued. Then I moved. It'll be three years in January. I don't regret doing it. I truly believe that he had reached a point where he was capable of anything, a point of no return. But I DO miss him sometimes. I'm sure that's hard for you to understand. I don't expect you to. My Father was a bad man. But I loved him because he was mine.

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