The Winter of 1961 was a cold one. Frigid winds howled outside rattling the windows in the old rental. It was warm under the old feather tick and i pulled it close hiding all but my face. I could see my breath in the dim reflection of the street light and was making a game out of watching the steam leave my mouth. 8 O'clock was bedtime on school days but i was not tired. Our bedroom was above the kitchen. And I could hear Ma n Dad arguing. it was pretty normal. Whenever he decided to come home from the bar there was always some kind of trouble. Ma would do her best to get us up to bed before he got back. And listening to his loud voice happened all the time.
but Tonight it was louder, and Ma was callin names. i covered my head tryin not to listen. hoping that soon it would be over and the house would get quiet. Suddenly a loud bang and the sound of something falling. then more noises and Mom's voice Yelling now "Buck Stop it'', and go to bed"
Then more arguing and more yelling. Then I heard another loud sound and mom crying . I got out of bed and went to the bottom of the stairs just in time to see him hit her with the back of his hand throwing her up against the wall. She got up and he moved towards her swearing and yelling. Without thinking I ran in and jumped on his back begging him to stop. With little effort he grabbed me and threw me off like a rag doll. At 14 I had little more than the will to make this stop. But no power against a grown man. whatever had transpired here it stopped his assault on my mother. But it changed things completely for me that day.
My life up to that point had been very miserable. Dad was a man of discipline. But the booze caused many unfair episodes. I cant tell you the number of nights I sat at the kitchen table until dark because I wouldn't eat my carrots or the beatings I took for sassin back or comin home late.
I remember driving him back from the bar at 14 yrs old. I was with him and he got so drunk I just opened the back seat of the 49 dodge and he crawled in. So I got in and took us home , and home was 20 miles away. There were many, many incidents of abuse throughout that period in my life causing me to carry much resentment and hate for him. But the night he hit my mother my life changed. as I lay there on the floor wiping the blood from my busted lip I made a conscious decision to kill him. He had taught me how to shot the 12 gauge, and I knew where it was. and I knew where the shells were. And a plan began to take place right there on the floor to take his life. I remember no thoughts of concern for my mother or my brothers n sisters, no thoughts of jail , nothing. But it was crystal clear that I'd wait my chance and kill him.
Several weeks passed as I searched for the right way to do it but the determination was solid. and as his drinking and abuse continued it only reaffirmed my decision.
I had a partime job in a gas station, and was filling a car when the ambulance went by as it had done many times before. But this time I got a very uneasy feeling in my stomach. A few minutes later a friend drove in to tell me that Dad and my brother were just in an accident and i needed to hurry to the hospital. When i got there Dad was dead and my brother was receiving treatment for cuts n bruises but would recover.
Three days later , at the funeral. I was told that now I was the man of the family and I should greet people and help them down to the casket. I remember standing back at the door and saying ""You SOB, you had me doing your bid when you were alive and now I'm expected to take your place here."" So much hate was in me that I wanted nothing to do with him.
I'm 61 now, And I love my Dad. But it took receiving Jesus Christ to get me to let go of the bitterness that consumed me. I need to tell my kids I love them because its something I always wished for and never got. I could never share with my Brothers and Sisters. They were younger and never saw his wrath. So it was my burden, my secret.
My Dad and I missed many good times, and we cant get them back. But He fought in a tough war to keep us safe and the resulting trauma made him drink to hide the pain. I know that now. But the booze took away those chances. And changed Him . He grew up in a bad environment, and walked life with what he was givin. He made some bad choices, but now I see that I've made some too. If I watch a movie were a dad hugs a son, I gotta turn away because the hurt is right there and all consuming . All these years and it still hurts bad. The tears flow again as I write this, so many years later. And I have to wonder what I would have done If He would have not gotten killed.
I'm a better Dad because of him. My values were shaped because of him. And I lift Him up in prayer now, hoping God will give him another chance.
Society views things differently. we like to point at pedophiles, killers, rapists. it makes us feel better I think. But God says sin is sin. And that pen I stole from the bank, or the time I turned my eye to a person in need, Makes me equal with them all.
I love you Pop,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,