Time to Run Again
Seems we just settled into our home in Newport News, Virginia, as my father was in the service, when my mother packed me, my two brothers and my baby sister up, returning us to Baltimore. My aunt and grandparents opened their homes to us and after a while, my father encountered issues pertaining to his job and he too moved back home. Not long after living with my grandparent’s did we move into the projects of Westport near Cherry Hill in Baltimore.
Dad had become increasingly hostile. Seems he was angry all the time. When he went into his flailing, yelling and screaming fits, typically my mother escaped quickly, gathering me and my siblings and scuffling us to the nearest family members house. I remember my aunts and uncles would get angry that mom had us out so late at night. They were mostly livid with my dad and would saddle up like lone-rangers to pursue and punish him in the family way.
This particular night, rain beat hard against the window as my siblings and I sat in the living room. We were supposed to be waiting for mom to give us a snack and prepare us for bed but just as she was about to go into the kitchen my father stormed into the house and immediately began slinging all manner of curse words at her. She asked him if he had been drinking and all he could say was it didn't matter. Mom told him to go upstairs and get his self together so she could finish with us and then she would talk to him about whatever had him so angry. He insisted that she stop what she was doing and come upstairs with him at that very moment.
Mom refused so dad came over, grabbed her by her arm and began pushing her towards the stairs. Mommy was screaming telling dad to let her arm go because he was hurting her but he ignored her declaring that she would learn to respect him one way or the other. Mom called for my oldest brother telling him to come to her. I didn't realize then but she was using him as a shield, figuring if dad could only see the look in his sons’ eyes he would cease with his intentions to “teach her a lesson.” Man, my oldest brother, ran over to mom and began pleading with my dad to stop and let her go but dad insisted that he stay in a child’s place and go back to his seat.
I then ran over and grabbed my dad around his leg crying, yelling and asking him to please stop. I’ll never forget that night because it was the night my dad turned to me, grabbed me by my two ponytails, picked me up by them and partially slung me off of his leg. At that moment I was a broken little girl. As far as I could remember in my almost five years of life my dad had never even spanked me but now in a moment he crushed me, not physically but my spirit was far removed. I was daddy’s girl and was unaccustomed to this behavior towards me.
As I sat on the floor crying I remember hearing my baby brother and sister wailing out of fear, Man was yelling at dad demanding he let mommy go as dad pushed her up the stairs. Finally, they were out of sight but we most certainly could hear the cursing and thumping. After a while my mom came downstairs telling me and my brother to grab our rain coats and to hurry before dad came downstairs.
She never really let us get them all the way on as she marched us out the front door urging us to walk faster. When we finally reached the nearest family members home, mom was surprised to see my aunts and uncles were all there playing cards. Aunt Pattie-pooh asked my mother bluntly what was going on, of course using a few choice words. She could clearly tell that mom had been crying and asked if Eddie, my father came home acting a fool again. Mom answered yes and before she could tell them anything further my uncle said he came home violent and drunk didn't he? My mom seemed reluctant to answer but before long the adults remembered that we, the children were standing in the room, dripping from the rain.
Some of the older cousins were called down to tend to the babies and to get us ready for bed. As we headed upstairs the adult voices began to fade, eventually dissipating altogether and I knew they were all headed to my house to whip on my dad. At the time, I didn't realize he was physically abusing my mother because all he ever allowed us to witness was him yelling at her and grabbing her. And I certainly had not considered that even if he was not physically abusive he sure was wearing her out with mental abuse with all the names he called her and all the ways he humiliated her in front of us and often in front of company. I cried myself to sleep with each of these episodes and woke the next morning to him carrying me back to my house with mom by his side pushing the babies in a stroller and Man trailing behind. Every time I would think that was the end of the fighting things grew worse.
One time my father came home so drunk that he must have forgotten my aunts and uncles didn't tolerate his drunken ignorance. My mom, aunts and uncles were in the kitchen when my father came home, smoking weed, loud, and obnoxious, reeking of alcohol, and barking instructions to all in HIS house. He was sure to remind everyone that he was the king of the castle.
The adults were listening to records and pretty much ignoring his ranting. My dad walked over to the stereo and changed the record to something he wanted to hear. My mother told him to stop smoking the weed in the house around us and then she told him to leave the music alone informing him that they were there first. My father began yelling obscenities; again echoing he was the king in his house and if they didn’t like what he was doing, they could all get out.
As my dad went to the sofa, continuing to smoke his marijuana my mom went to the record player and put on Michael Jackson, a record they listened to hours ago but what they all wanted to hear at the moment. My dad jumped up and pushed my mom into the wall. Just as he raised his fist to hit her, my uncle ran into the living room and stood in between my mom and my dad. My uncle told my father to go upstairs and sleep off his drunken high but my father refused. He told my uncle to stay out of his business and then accused my mother of sleeping with my uncle. Uncle Mike retorted that my dad was an A-hole and warned him that if he did not stop with his outlandish behavior he would put him in his place.
Again, my father must have forgotten that my aunts and uncles were not afraid of him and believed in teaching HIM lessons. Dad jumped in my uncles’ face, called him a few names and told him he wasn’t going to do nothing to him. As my dad tried to reach around my uncle to change the record my uncle caught his arm giving him his final warning to calm down. My dad swung at my uncle and missed. My uncle came back with a blow to his nose. I will never forget watching the blood drip from my dad’s face and although I knew my dad was wrong I was really hurt because he was hurt. This highly dramatic man, screamed out that his nose was broken and went staggering up the stairs to clean up the blood muffling something like he’d be back to take care of my uncle.
Just as a daddy’s girl, I climbed the stairs to check on my daddy. He was in his room with the door closed. I knocked lightly. When he didn't answer I opened the door and found him sitting on the roof just outside of his window. He looked back at me, one nostril clogged with blood and the other with a white powdery residue. He had cough syrup in one hand and the remainder of the joint in the other hand. Looking back, my father was either suicidal or trying desperately to escape deep rooted pains. He told me that he didn't want me to see him like that. He even apologized. That was the first and last time I ever heard him apologize for his conduct. I told him I loved him, reached up to hug him as he reached into the window to receive the hug and a soft peck on the cheek from me. He told me he loved me too and that I should go back down stairs with mommy before she came looking for me. I slowly walked towards the door and I remember thinking, is my daddy going to die. I looked back, told him to be careful and to come down soon. He said okay as I walked out the door, closing it behind me. His slight smile is still etched into the fabric of my memory.
Dear Baby Girl,
I want to at this very moment, wrap my arms around your abandoned heart. I want to squeeze you and embrace you and cover you with my pleading love for you. My heart cries for not being the father you need to protect and provide for you. There are no excuses for my failure of not being a father to you, and I cannot retract what I did, nor can I take back what I did not do but if I could, I most certainly would.
I have carried you in my spirit since the day you were conceived. You are the greatest gift I have contributed to the world. I often felt I wasn’t good enough to be that strong figure in your life to teach you and show you the way a man is supposed to be. I was both present and absent from your life but it had nothing to do with your worth. You were and will always be the gem in my heart. God knew I wasn’t the best fit for a father at the time you were born, but he knew you were supposed to be here and he knew you were a beautiful soul, with the strength of a lion. He knew you would have the strength to pull through your circumstances and become who you were created to be in this world, without me.
I know you yearn for me and will always yearn for me to be there throughout your life, but the truth is that God wouldn’t have put this on you if he didn’t already see that you would overcome this. You have carried this burden long enough and it is time for you to release all the pain I have caused you in not being there. I love you more than words could ever express. You are my heart and forever my baby girl.
I pray that God gives you the strength to forgive me, for my failure as a man, so that you can let the anger and the pain diminish for the sake of freeing yourself. My prayer is and always will be that you know you are worth more than all the riches this world could ever offer. You are priceless, my little girl, the love of my life; my heart will continue to love you throughout eternity.
Always Loving You,