She Never Cried
Late one night during the winter I heard my mom and dad having another argument about him being the man of “HIS” house and how she better start listening to him or else he was leaving. My mom said something to the effect of him not threatening to leave but that if he wanted to leave the door was open. She went on to say that if he tried coming back this time she would not let him in – then came the tussling. I heard dad sort of growl through his teeth saying owwwww, you bit me. My mom said that’s right and imma bite you again if you don’t let me go.
She went on screaming she was sick of his crap, the lying, the cheating – the fights. She said she deserved better. Then I heard mommy whimper saying my dad was hurting her and then there was a thud to the floor and in that moment the whimpering reversed. It sounded as if dad was crying when he asked her why she had to do that. I lay there trying to use my little imagination to figure out what my mother could have possibly done to break free from my dad, knock him to the floor and make him cry. The loud argument faded but the discussion continued as I drifted off to sleep.
When I woke the next morning the house was ironically quiet as we usually wake to chaos. Mom was downstairs, Luther Van Dross was playing softly on the stereo and she was seated at the kitchen table in her floral printed bathrobe and her rugged slippers, coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Somehow I already knew the answer to the question before I asked but I felt compelled to ask anyway. I walked slowly towards my mother’s seat asking her where my dad was and if he was coming back. She looked up at me with tear stained cheeks and simply answered that she didn’t know. I wasn’t sure if the answer was for question one or question two but what I did know is that I most certainly was not the only person in anguish, although, I didn’t quite understand why my mom was sad. I figured she should be happy she didn’t have to fuss and fight with him anymore.
After that day in the kitchen, she was fairly quiet; I never saw her cry again. My aunts stopped by periodically to check on my mother. My aunts tried to get her to leave the house, to go out and have fun but she made many excuses every time. One day, while my aunt was visiting I overheard her say that she received a call from my father and that he was in California. Hearing that excited something in me so I jumped up and moved quickly towards the kitchen. I knew they would tell me it was grown up conversation and to go back into the living room. So in that moment I figured I would simply ask for water so it would not seem as though I were spying. I mean it had been quite a while since I saw or heard from my father – I missed my daddy – not being able to see him or talk to him was killing me.
Just as I entered the kitchen doorway, mom pulled a letter from her pocket and showed it to my aunt. It was from my dad. They went on to discuss the details of the letter never noticing I was standing there. Apparently my father found another woman, was living with her in California and wanted to marry her which meant he would have to divorce my mother. My aunt and mother sat quietly at the kitchen table for hours before my aunt took her leave.
For many years now, I have walked around carrying a heavy load on my shoulders. I have asked myself many times would you, could you have lived a much better life, had I been sober of mind, heart and body. Instead I was addicted to alcohol and could not see the forest for the trees.
Yes, my child I was a drunk! No! I did not drink every day, however, when I did; my goal was to get drunk, escaping my daily realities. Baby girl, every time I did. I saw you watch in confusion.
If you can remember, I believed that I knew it all, but in reality I was turning myself into a living veggie, most of all I was not smart enough to see, or know the pain that I was bringing to your life. What a jerk I was, the people I loved the most were the very same people I brought pain and shame.
The yelling, the fussing and God knows whatever unnecessary behavior I had shown. Many times I should have been home with you and the rest of the family but would find myself drunk with some woman and I could not tell you who they were now. If I could only turn back the hands of time, I would do many things differently. I would be a better man, a better father. There are many things I could write about; however, this is not easy. I wish there were other words I could say, other expressions I could use; but there is no other way to say I am sorry for any pain, shame or scarring I caused you!
With Deep Regret and Heartfelt Apology,