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Posts Tagged ‘mom’

My first memory of going to look for my dad at 3:00 a.m. (or thereabouts) dates back to 1984; I was four. I’m sure these late night / early morning adventures took place long before then; after all, my mom and dad had been married for three years before I was even born, so this behavior I’m sure was nothing new. But my first clear memory of looking for my dad dates back to about then.

Have you seen the movie Christine? When the character Dennis Guilder drives away from Arnie’s house at night, troubled and and a bit angry, that song, “As I walk along, / I wonder what went wrong, / With our love, a love that was so strong / ….”. I don’t know who sings it; the Misfits maybe? It seemed like a throaty girl voice, like Carly Simon or Janis Joplin before the cigarettes and whiskey (with an e because I’m thinking she didn’t waste her time or money on proper Scotch). Anyways, that sound is playing in the background as Dennis drives away and the streetlights make these weird shadows, these shadows shaped like the rearview mirrors that bend and melt and drape over the over his face and the interior as the car maneuvers down the streets.

My first memory of looking for my dad was exactly like that, except my mom was driving the car, not Dennis, and she looked a lot more than troubled and a bit angry. She was also crying a lot. I was laying down in the backseat, being quiet, probably still half-asleep from being drug of bed for this early morning rendezvous. My mom smoked, and sang, and cried, and occasionally cussed. She asked me if I was ok, and not to worry, just go back to sleep.

I don’t remember if we found my dad that night. But many nights were like that. And, at the end of the day (or early the next morning, I guess) he always found us. He always found his way back home. I thought that was a good thing; I didn’t particularly want to know where my dad had been. I knew he had been bad places. I knew he had been drinking. That was a constant in my life; I never knew my dad any other way. Later I would learn that drugging and whoring was a big part of the drinking lifestyle, as well, or at least his.

But as a little girl, I just wanted my dad to come home and my mom to quit crying. And when he came home in the mornings, admittedly she would cry and yell even louder and more intensely than before, but it would normally get better. My dad would always hang his head in shame and mumble something about how sorry he was and how he would never let it happen again. Normally he would want me sitting in his lap while he apologized and sucked up to my mom; I was some sort of shield, I guess, from her wrath and fury. Within 24 hours, all would be well.

And then three days later, he’d be gone again. Rinse, lather, repeat cycle above.

She would punish him sometimes, of course. I remember once we actually found him at some scuzzy, fat, white lady’s house over off of Buchanan and the Boulevard, across the street from Horace Mann school. She brought his clothes over in a black plastic garbage sack and threw them in her yard. And he came back a few days later.

One of the funnier things I saw my mom do was pack him a special lunch before he went to work one morning following his typical late night shenanigans. I knew what was in that pail, but he didn’t. I’m sure his workmates had a damn good laugh when he opened his lunch pail at noon to discover a pile of bologna, still with the rinds, thrown into his pail with a few slices of cheese, still in the wrappers, a bag of chips, crushed to powder, and some moldy bread. Oh yeah, and a water bottle of hot ugly AMA tap water. Hee hee, take that cheater!

This went on for 20 years or so, at least that I am aware of. My dad always found his way home. And mom always let him back through the front door. The locks were never changed. But, she changed.

He changed, too. Out of necessity more than anything else. My dad is 63 now. His health is failing, both mentally and physically. He’s too old to drink and drug and whore. Now he drinks two beers and he’s tanked. Falls asleep on the couch. A shot of whiskey for his toothache, perhaps. Quiet, family man. It’s nice. I wish I could have had that before my brother and I had grown up, but it is what it is. I’m glad he’s better, although that’s really a relative term.

My mom…I cannot say she has changed for the better. Something died inside, a long time ago. I was either to selfish to see it or in denial. But there’s no looking the other way now. She’s broken. Damaged. Hollow.

I suppose in some ways I’m more like my mom than she realizes. I have her flaw of being a doormat to people I love and to people I think love me, even if it’s in the smallest possible way. Maybe that’s why she gets so angry with me.

My mom didn’t have a choice. She had a kid to raise, no education, and no skills. She suffered through that marriage for me, and later, for my brother. Now we’re grown up. She’s still suffering. She looks at me and says, you have a choice; you have everything I didn’t; I sacrificed everything, so you, my daughter, wouldn’t have to make the same mistakes as me, as my mom, your granny. You can take care of yourself. You still have a chance at happiness, even though you’re thirty. Don’t make the same fucking mistakes I did.

Change the locks.

Don’t let him keep finding his way back home.

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