Since Father's Day is this month, I am reposting this series of 3 posts I wrote about my relationship with my father.
If you can't wait to read the whole story, you can find it in the list of topics on my sidebar under
"A Journey of Forgiveness".
It’s strange how the details of my surroundings at that moment are seared into my memory. The sun shone through the upstairs bedroom window of our tall yellow house, its warmth spreading across the quilt covered bed that Daddy told us kids to sit down on. He sat on the other twin bed facing us. The paint on the bedroom wall behind him was flat, minty green, scuffed. The closet door was ajar, the interior was dark. What I don’t remember is even more strange. I don’t remember the words he used to tell us he was leaving Mama and us. I don’t remember the expression on his face, or if he cried. Stranger still, I don’t remember my own emotions. I don’t remember if I said anything in response or if I cried. I think something inside my nine year old heart just went numb and shut down.
In a large family like ours, spending money wasn’t just handed out willy nilly. But that day, Daddy handed us kids some spending money and told us to walk the couple blocks to the variety store on the main street of our little town and buy ourselves something. I guess that he didn’t want us kids to see him filling up cardboard boxes with his belongings or driving away in our big, old Oldsmobile station wagon.
I remember the details of the sidewalk as we walked to the store, so I guess my head was hanging. The sun was warm on my neck and back. I felt like I should be more excited about getting to buy something and numbly picked out some modeling clay. I remember the smell of the clay and the way it stained my hands reddish brown when I played with it. But I don’t remember if I cried myself to sleep that night or not.
The next couple of years, the memories are all foggy with only a few clear memories bobbing up to the surface of my mind, rather like those red and white floats Daddy tied to our fishing line when he took my little brother and I fishing in the nearby river. Sometimes we’d spend the night camping by the river, me, my little brother and Daddy, sleeping in the back of the old station wagon snuggled together. I remember another overnight stay at a little apartment Daddy must have rented. One cold, rainy night, I was in the very same upstairs bedroom that Daddy had sat us in to tell us he was leaving. Unable to sleep, I leaned my head against the cold windowpane and stood there crying, straining my eyes as I looked out into the dark night in the direction that I thought Daddy’s apartment was. I cried and prayed for him to come home. I remember my youngest brother and I sitting together on the old wood floor of our enclosed back porch, talking together about if there was some way we could get Mama and Daddy back together. And I remember Mama standing in the dining room of the tall yellow house, talking on the black dial rotary phone with the curly cue cord that always got hopelessly tangled up, and telling whoever she was talking to that she’d take him back if he’d just come home.
The day Daddy drove up in the station wagon to pick us kids up for our Sunday afternoon visit with a lady in the front seat next to him, the weather was dark and gray. He told us that this was his new wife. I had seen her before. She and her husband had been friends with Mama and Daddy. So this was who he had traded my Mama for, I thought. (to be continued…)