A heated argument ensued; the exact details of the tirade have since slipped my memory, but I do recall my father saying that he didn’t want to catch me watching his television and that I had, “better just watch that sh@t back there in my room.” He was referring to my computer. I found his “logic” amusing since I had actually bought the television that he was referring to and that he sat daily on the couch that I had bought for my mother and ate at the dinning room table that I had also bought for my mother.
Again, I saw my father’s insecurity, in addition to his selfishness. Not once had he even asked if my mother was okay or if she needed medical assistance. Granted her bruises were minimal but I would still have expected some degree of concern. My father was concerned but about himself.
My father is several different entities wrapped up into a compact package. I thought that he had hit an all-time low when he told me that my mother wanted to abort me. The fact that my father had made it seem the way he did, like my mother wanted the abortion, is what really upset me. He knew that my mother was no longer alive to explain herself. Little did he know, my mother had already told me the story. The fact that I was expected to be “a little person” who was def and mute. She explained to me that the doctors mentioned abortion as an option. My mother and I were very close. She didn’t withhold much from me.
I spoke to my sister about what my father had said and she wasn’t remotely offended. She was actually indifferent. “Well, he once told me that he should have just jerked off,” she responded. What he said to me paled in comparison to what he had said to my sister. Despite the circumstances, I actually felt better after speaking to my sister.
Though his tongue could pierce like a knife, he sometimes used it in the most approving manor. His accolades were rampant when things went his way. They were grand and pedestal boosting, so much so that the subject of my father’s momentary affections naively assumed that the praises would usurp all perceived injustices. I cannot speak for my other siblings; we all grew to know our father, and mother for that matter, differently. Our experiences are not the same, but my experience/observation has proven that his praises can be and are often short lived. Granted when a child disappoints his parents, that child should expect that the disappointment will be expressed. However, the articulation of that disappointment shouldn’t serve as a catalyst for future letdowns. I have watched as my eldest brother, for example, has attempted to live up to some standard that he hasn’t yet been able to achieve, primarily due to my father’s continuous expression of sheer disappointment.
Despite it all, I do believe that neither myself nor my siblings ever perceived our father as weak. He always embodied the alpha-male persona. Even when my mother was diagnosed, he still embodied that male bravado. This was due largely to the fact that he really didn’t understand the severity of my mother’s condition: stage three colon cancer. Also, as I describe in greater detail in "And We Write: Surviving Cancer", my mother was a trooper. It wasn’t until her operation, in which her surgical oncologist told us that she would only have about 5 years to live, that I saw my father’s persona change. The doctor’s comment cracked open my father’s tough exterior, exposing the fear that hid inside.
To be continued...