This piece is hard to write. It’s about making peace with my dad, with myself, and about how my siblings and I were more cowards than not when dad would berate our mom verbally and she’d just take it. Not always without fussing, however. But they fussed about so many little things their whole married lives it seems. Daddy was always a fuss box anyway, mom said. At other times she said he was the most miserable man she’d ever met. It’s true he was miserable a lot, but he was also terribly funny at other times. I think we all remember that he was funny and would make all of us laugh.
Most of my life I either tried or thought I had to try and please daddy. It was all for that so-called acceptance. Why I felt so insecure is not easy to explain but there must have been various reasons. Some of my aunts told me that when we were little, daddy would always go off taking my older brother (18 months older) with him and leave my screaming little self behind. I wanted to go too. Nope, he wasn’t taking two. And I didn’t even have my mom for about 8 to 9 months for she was very ill right after I was born. I had to be taken care of by an aunt during that period. Of course, I don’t remember these situations but they must’ve been traumatic for me and my development.
Maybe daddy did the best he could. I can’t be the judge of that. I’ve already mentioned some of his strong points in other writings. Still, he could be so hateful and ugly when he’d lose his temper and berate our mom. She worked so hard and did so much that it was sometimes too much to take. Once one of my siblings ran out of the house angry as hell cause daddy was in one of his berating moods. At least that sibling showed him a degree of protest at the time. But it was quite late in their marriage by then. I am horrified and ashamed when I look back and realize how little I did to defend my mom and/or show my dad some modicum of protest. And when I was a child, I remember more than once when she spoke up to defend me! I’ll have to continue paying for my lack of courage regarding this issue. It isn’t easy but I’m doing it, obviously.
Daddy was the kind very few crossed or challenged. He could be belligerent. You’ve seen those kinds. All hell breaks loose if you speak up/speak your mind/opine and it turns out to be something against what they believe or what they want to happen! (It was daddy’s way or NO way.) That’s one reason I raised a sassy daughter, so to speak. I didn’t want her growing up as I did: closed-mouthed looking like some wax figure in Madame Tussaud’s. Of course, now that she’s nearing 30, she’s a lot more patient and caring.
Mom went back. She’d left him once or twice during that first or second year of marriage. One thing was he hadn’t given up hanging with his cousins and buddies or bringing them over for snacks, meals, etc. Guess who cooked, washed dishes, etc.? Somehow that got stopped. Maybe it was a condition for her to return and continue the marriage. Anyway, she went back to him and never left again. She felt like it thousands of times, though. I know and remember her telling me. If all of us siblings had gotten together and challenged daddy while we were at home in some reunion, he would have backed down. I see that now. Of course, we didn’t, unfortunately.
I think I was in my 40s and one particular year it just ended. I quit trying to please daddy and even realized I couldn’t care less anymore. I didn’t tell him, of course. I don’t know if he sensed it. He could really sense a lot, however. You had to be careful. In many ways it was a relief. But I’d already suffered a lot. One example was after I’d left home and we’d have the July family reunion. I hadn’t seen him or mom for months on end, perhaps, so was excited when they pulled up to the meeting place (usually a park). I’d been there a short while I suppose. This is what I think: Daddy would see I was excited to hug them and, instead of coming straight over where we were, he’d stop several times and say hi and chat a moment with all and sundry. Just to delay our joyous meeting, it seemed. Mom wouldn’t. She’d leave him chatting and come over where we were, hug and kiss and tell us to help her get the food items out of the car. After 2 or 3 years of this, I started playing the game also. I’d just talk to someone and not pay attention to the fact that they’d arrived. It was sad, though, that things came down to that.
To be fair, of course, daddy was good and supportive, even outstanding, in other ways. None of us is ever a composite of all good or all bad. I think that is what is difficult for us to remember all our lives or even to accept.
Anyway, by the time daddy died last year (mom died in 2000), we were on good, normal terms and had been for quite a number of years. I never argued or fought with him during our years together anyway for I felt it was ‘foolish’. I still do. I don’t fight in my marriage. Grumble, yes. Isn’t life short? Now, if one of my siblings sees this and says that maybe I didn’t speak up about mom’s getting berated but they did, I’ll just say maybe you did but it didn’t change anything. It didn’t stop the sarcasm.
Thanks a million for reading. RB