Sunday, June 28, 2009

" My Dad "

I have been thinking about my dad a lot lately. I don't know why. Many people when thinking of fathers have this iconic vision of the man that helped in creating their life. I had pain. I say had, because I have long since dismissed from my mind all of this pain and rarely, rarely think of my dad any more. Yet still there are moments,maybe a particular word, or even a vision of someone else, that will make this memory resurface once again. My dad died thirty tears ago. He was an alcoholic.

My earliest memories of my dad did have love in them. I guess they still do. Just not the kind of love that I have always wanted to feel. I was, in my early years, a daddy's girl. I remember my dad bragging about what a good little girl I was and I remember wanting to sit next to my dad and eat the same things that he ate. Hot pepper sandwiches when you are four is a true show of love I believe! That is the extent of the fond memories however.

My dad had family in Illinois and in California. He was a cement contractor, a trade he had picked up in the See Bee's. He would find work in Illinois during the summer season. When it would start to turn cold, off to California we would drive. Each and every year. Sometimes twice a year, quite often staying with relatives. I can't tell you how many different schools that I attended growing up as truly I can not remember them all.

Dad never physically hurt me. Unless you count spankings when I did something wrong. A practice that he halted when I was ten years old saying that if I didn't know right from wrong by then, there was nothing more he could do. He did however hurt my mother. Physically and emotionally. Time after time. Year after year. My mother finally left him after ten years of marriage. I often wonder what took her so long.

I remember one night in particular. I was in my own bed yet it was in the same room as my parents bed where they were to sleep. I have no recollection of where it was geographically as I was only around four or five years old. Dad said that he had a knife and if my mother made a sound or moved that he would kill her. I was too terrified to breathe let alone move. I thought that if I made a sound , my dad would think that it was mom and kill her.

There were many of these nightmarish incidents that were to follow. The last one that I remember took place when I was eight years old. It was shortly after my baby brother was born. We were living on the second floor of a two story apartment in Chicago. My brother was asleep in his bed, just a few months old at the time. My father as usual was drunk and was threatening yet again to kill my mother if she didn't leave the apartment. Her and I left to go outside not wanting to leave my brother behind. Mom was so upset. We stood outside for just a short while and I knew, at eight years old, that my dad would soon be passed out. I instructed my mother to stay outside as I quietly crept upstairs. There was my father, passed out on the sofa as I had suspected. I very quickly and quietly went into the room where my brother lay in his bed. I wrapped him up In a blanket and just as quickly and quietly crept down the stairs to my mother. I don't remember anything after that. I don't remember where we went. I do remember however that it was shortly after that when we moved out on our own. My mother, me and my baby brother. Finally.

Life did get better after that. Still I missed my dad and had all kinds of anger inside of me towards him which I could not understand. He would call me from time to time as I was growing up. Usually he was drunk. My mother did not want me to talk to him. I would talk to him when she was not around. Finally when I was in the sixth grade he wanted to meet with me. And I wanted to see him. We agreed, behind my mothers back that we would meet at a bowling alley in Chicago. He had a job there as a pin setter. I told him that I would meet with him but with the condition that he be sober. I took the bus that evening to the bowling alley. My mother thought that I was going out with friends. When I got there, he of coarse was drunk. I left immediately, very hurt, very angry.

That was to be the last time that I spoke to my dad. It was the last time that I saw my dad until his funeral about ten years later. That was the beginning of my angry period. My son was nine months old when we flew to California to attend my dad's funeral. I was angry that my dad ruined our relationship or so I thought at the time. I was angry that my dad never got to meet his grandson because of his alcoholism. It was easier to blame him for my anger at the time as I didn't know any better. I stayed angry for a long time after that. Very angry. My love for him had now turned to a feeling of hate. Which now, I realize was simply my misunderstanding of the whole situation. I would come to learn those lessons later in my life.

As I grew older and actually learned more about this disease, I was able to see the past with a better perspective. I also learned that pent up anger harms no one but the person feeling it. It took me years to work through it all. I have no feelings of anger anymore. As a matter of fact as I said in the beginning, I rarely even think of my dad anymore. I do feel sad for the man that had so much torment inside of him that he felt helpless in controlling it. And only confident in drowning it.

I do feel somewhat envious at times of people who have or had these wonderfully inspiring parents in there lives. However, I suppose in someways, I have become stronger from living through it all. I think that it has helped me in becoming a better parent. I can't say that I am grateful for having lived through it, but I am stronger ultimately because of it.


Jerelene said...

Hello Diana! I am so sorry to hear what you went through as a child. That must have been so hard for you..I'm glad you were able to get your little brother out safely. I know my parents fought a lot when I was younger, actually they still do! I have a hard time with that. Sometimes I feel now, that I am the parent and being put in between their arguments. It's hard. Especially since they are not in great health..What a heartfelt post..I'm glad you shared that with us!
Have you had a bit of relief from the heat? There is the most wonderful breeze blowing here and the humidity is finally down! I'm going to try to spend some time outside today enjoying it. I hope you have cooled off a bit too!
Love, Jerelene

Anonymous said...

Diana, I cringed as I read your account of part of your childhood...but I also felt proud of your protective love for your Mother and your brother....You were a child yourself, and you took on amazing and brave responsibilities. I hope you have found peace since have come to the point that you aren't angry at your Dad any more. That is a good thing for you and for your family. Thank you for sharing your heart's thoughts about your Dad.
Hugs and smiles from Jackie

Eileen said...

I'm so sorry for the little girl that had to go through that. I am so in awe of the woman that has moved beyond that, the woman who can forgive. I understand your feelings completely because I heard them from my own mother as her father too was an alcoholic and while he wasn't abusive to my mother or her sisters, he was abusive to my grandmother. And, like you, my mother had forgiveness in her heart too.
And I know it made my Mom appreciate my Dad and his sense of responsibility to his family, and his love and the sacrifices he made for us, she really felt so Blessed.
A very heavy burden for a child to carry, I'm so glad you were able to purge it. It's something that will most likely always weigh on your heart, but I'm so happy for you that you didn't let it blacken any part of your heart or tear down any part of your life.
Beautiful post, Diana.
Beautiful woman.
Thank you.
Love, Eileen

Wanda..... said...

Diana...Reading anything about a child's needless pain touches me deeply...I am sorry...but it's good that you forgive your dad...he obviously had problems he could not overcome...thankfully your mom left...taking you and your brother to a safer life.
Take care!

Mary Ann said...

I understand you better now. Or, maybe it's that I can see now why you understand me so well.

I believe that you can forgive, eventually, but when you can write about it, then you've moved on to another level of acceptance of all that happened and didn't happen.

Leaving you a hug...

Tranquility Speaks said...

I am so very sorry to read what a difficult child hood you had. Alcohol silently kills everything. The person, his relationships and everything that ever mattered to him. It's said that the hardest lessons in life are learnt in pain. That was your dad's karma. I am sure he learnt something too, in his sober moments. There probably was a lot he was trying to find escape from in alcohol. If it doesn't kill you, it only makes you stronger. You are much stronger and wiser today. And I am sure it taught you to be a much better parent. Bringing up children is a huge responsibility I am sure, and you've done an amazing job I am sure. Diana, the memories cannot be wiped out, but we can make a conscious effort to not go deeper and deeper into them, whenever the painful thoughts emerge. The thought comes, let it go. Without any introspection. Without any analysis. You've done enough of it while dealing with it. You have a choice with the thoughts, make the best of it. That is I how I deal with painful memories. It must have been so very hard for your mother. My sympathies with her. Give her all the love and support and never let her feel alone. You cannot undo the damage that your dad did, but you can help her heal. Loads of love to you Diana. Think happy thoughts, they attract happier thoughts and then fall asleep. Don't sleep with a sad thought in your head. It isn't easy, but it is one of our everyday battles

Blessings each day said...

What an incredibly tender post, such a credit to all of us that you did share this.

Though my story is somewhat different, I had two alcoholic parents! My dad's early death was due to a fall when he was drunk coming home and suffered a brain hemmorrhage...will have to relay the story sometime in a future post.

How mature of that little girl that you were to go back in and get your baby brother!!

You've become a wonderful person, Diana, so a lot of good came out in the end!

blessings AND HUGS,


Anonymous said...

Diana....I have an award for you on my blog. (Monday, June 29.)

Wanda..... said...

Diana I will wait for you to pass on your award from Jackie to whomever you choose then I will.

Barb said...

Hello Diana,
I can only imagine your Mother's pain and your own confusion as a child. We love our parents no matter what - that is the nature of children. I once worked with abused children and even when I had to remove them from their families, they still clung to the hope that they could return. They loved and missed the people who had caused them pain. Children are always willing to give a second (or third or fourth)chance. I'm glad you can look back now and feel no hatred. You are a strong woman - sometimes hardship in childhood leads to resilience. Good Luck to you!