Oh, did I type that outloud?
I came through the door as usual, but he wasn’t there.
He was always there.
We would eat the snack that he prepared and do our daddy-daughter thing… but today he wasn’t at the door when I came through.
I was little. I was only in second or third grade- but I remember it like it was yesterday.
The fear gripped me immediately after I walked through the door.
The house was silent.
I said, “Daddy?” in an almost hushed whisper- I guess hoping he would come from around the long entry way to greet me with a playful “Boo!”
But not today.
Today was different.
And I knew something was amiss.
I couldn’t even hear my little sister, but maybe there was a chance that she was down for a very usually long nap.
But I knew better.
As I opened the front door to our 1970 newly crafted-like-everyone-on-the-street- home, there was a sunk-in living room to the right and the door to my bedroom was immediately to the left.
I put my book bag down in my bedroom, and kicked off my shoes.
But instead of traveling the long entry way to the family room, I determined that there was something scaring going on and it would be best to cut through the “Saved for guests only” living room into the immaculately dressed (never to be used) dining room…
I was like a little stealth bomber – even though they hadn’t been invented yet… hoping to find that daddy and baby girl had gone through the kitchen door, outside.
But again, fear gripped me as I went up the two steps out of the living room in to the formal dining room and heard a very familiar sound say, “Stop! Don’t come any closer.”
It was my daddy. But he sounded… odd.
Both fear and relief swept over me at the same time. My stomach was in my throat as I held my heart in my hand…
“Holly,” he whispered, “Don’t come any further…. I’m going to come to you… but don’t be afraid.”
The heart I thought for sure I was now holding in my hand was beating so hard I felt the pulses through my entire body.
I stood in shock, my little feet pressed down and toes rolled around the bright orangish-red shaggy carpet that had been meticulously raked, specifically for special occasions-
And I was quite sure this situation was not included in my mother’s list of “special” events.
But all thoughts vanished as my fear turned to shear horror as my father, came from behind the door of our kitchen.
He was mess, his face hardly recognizeabl. Dried blood was in his hair and he could barely open his eye to look at me.
“Come here. Don’t be scared.”
He was bloody and bruised from his head to his tattered clothing all the way to his bloodied shoes.
“Don’t be scared?” I thought, “No. Daddy, its more like horrified?!”
I ran to him as fast as I could get my little feet to move, tears welling up in my eyes as I examined him from a distance of a few feet as to both examine and stay clean… he was filthy.
“You should see the other guy…” He tried to laugh.
I did not laugh.
As I started to speak, he cut me off, “No listen…” He said, trying to calm me, “You cannot tell your mother.”
The words were slurred. I wasn’t sure if it was from the bruised and bloodied fat lips or the missing teeth, but I quickly determined it was more like something he drank.
He was drunk. (Well, in those day’s we’d say he’s had too much to drink. We would never admit anyone was actually a drunk… that was reserved for the “bums” on the park benches – or my mother’s side of the family).
But here we were, early 1970 something… Different day. Same problem. New scenario.
I don’t know, as I said before, exactly how old I was. But I do remember thinking, “You are a bloody pile of flesh, who can’t even so much as stand up straight. You are covered in what looks like tar… and where is the baby?!”
I made a bee-line to the phone and called my mother.
I was so terrified as to what had happened and if he was going to live and I had no idea where my baby sister was, I couldn’t help but call my mom.
I don’t remember much after that. I do remember the divorce though that took place within the same year. He just disappeared one day.
Oh he’d come by every couple of weeks to pick us up for his weekend- but, it was never the same. He used to never leave the house without me…. I was his “little girl,” even though he threatened to sell me to the “Indians” once, a threat that scarred me for life, I still believed that somewhere in his heart he was sorry and that he loved me.
But he didn’t even know what that looked like.
Not much has changed between my dad and me these days. He is still bloodied and bruised from his life choices and his father. I am still trying to figure out if he’s going to live or die.
But it is more likely that one of these days his anger will cost him his life… his eternal life, that is. As a matter of fact, I am sure that we have arrived at that scenario.
He’s never really been much of a real man. He’s what I call a big-boy in grown up pants. He marries volatile, overbearing, emasculating women, then he drinks too much so he can forget how useless his life is and even more than that, it gives him something to “blame” but heaven help the person who pisses him off while he is drunk, even with a baby in the car, he’ll pull off the side of the road to pick a fight with you after you cut him off…
That day, long ago, with my sister standing in the middle of the bench seat of the pick-up truck, drinking her bottle, like they did back then – the “other man” had a tire iron in the back of his pick-up truck and
proceeded to beat my father unconscious and leave his lifeless body right there on the side of the road, where earlier they had exchanged some words, we would refer to today as “road rage.”
“But don’t be afraid, Holly…” he said.
I’m not just afraid daddy. I’m petrified.
The road rage of life has taken its toll on my dad. His father berated him, humiliated him and let him down so often that it became a lifestyle of regret without remorse, un-forgiveness that festered into bitterness and humiliation that turned into pride followed by the same hateful and grotesque behavior he hated so much in his own father.
Fighting the desires of the sins of his father with alcohol and pornography.
He turned into a very sad, bitter, angry man, who today rages against his heavenly father with such hatred from sheer ignorance – that is about to cost him his life eternal.
Sometimes I wish for the spiritual tire-iron, like Jesus did with Paul on the road to Damascus. But then I thought that the near death experience of a massive heart attack followed by six-bypasses might shake things up.
But nothing. Actually, God even granted him a very healthy “clean slate.” But he thanked himself and “clean eating for that.”
So it was no wonder that when the near-death experience of his grandson did not wake him up, the cancer he himself contracted a couple of months later would give him a jolt… but all he said was, “Why?”
My response, was a silent, “Why not?” What on earth do you think you deserve from God almighty when all you have done is denounce your faith and called him a liar, cheat and a hater?
I know I seem cold hearted. But honestly it gets to a point where a grown man has to… well… grow up!
Looking back I realize the evil that is in his heart, I remember the abuse that was done to my brother, the constant berating, insults, even the “teaching my brother to be a man” wrestling matches on the floor that were too violent for me to handle and finally with my sobbing cries of stop! Daddy Stop! He would eventually concede.
Why was he home to begin with? He was not a stay at home dad, as a matter of fact, he worked hard, always… it’s just that trouble just seemed to find him.
And somethings never change.
I don’t have anything to do with the man of my youth these days. The man I lovingly referred to as “Daddy” hoping desperately, that one day he might become that loving, sweet, protective daddy… but he didn’t and he most likely never will.
I just got tired of trying.
I’m simply worn out.
Among his pretending to sell me to the Indian chief that would scalp “pretty little girls” like me, he did not protect me from the molestation of his father, or the abuse of his wife- the evil stepmother, who from day one in court denounced us as his and tried to get my grandmother to do the same-
She refused, so we remained, much to her dismay.
Eventually my brother and sister walked away- but I hung on. For over 45 years, two children and one grandchild…
But the pain in their eyes caused me to say, “Enough!”
So even though I am the Cinderella and my Prince Charming found the glass slipper 25 years after I dropped it at the ball…
I realize I might need some “mice” in my life that might help me to fulfill what God calls us to do.
Because, I cannot. I just can’t.
So even praying for someone like this becomes so difficult.
How do you simply, one day decide to walk away from your kids?
Because they are not your “blood?”
I was in my mother’s womb when they started dating- high school sweethearts that ran into one another… in a bar… after an abusive divorce… so He married her when I was eight months.
So that excuse doesn’t work for me.
I could blame the evil step-mother – because that would be realistic and frankly easy and true. But to me – being a man is putting truth in the forefront and the taking a stand.
He did not do either.
So I have no respect for this man, absolutely none. Yet I watch as my daughter and my son both cling to the hope that someday he might be worthy of the title to which they have bestowed upon him as “grandpa.”
Therefore, for their sake, I lift him up to God almighty- but not because he deserves it. But because my children do.
And I ask you to take this burden from me- because I have no strength to pray for the salvation of a man who is indeed such an enemy of the one true God.
Pray for him. (Like Aaron & Hur held up the arms of Moses – Hold up my arms)
I just don’t have the desire.