“OHMYGOD! I WANT A PICTURE OF THAT LICENSE PLATE. CAN YOU TAKE ONE FOR ME WITH YOUR PHONE, PLEASE?.” Picture taken and sent. Ha. Ha. Success! She loved it.
Okay. Let me start at the beginning. As I was growing up, I had some hard times as my parents got divorced. I know, I know. Who doesn’t. I get that. Divorce is hard, especially on the kids. I’m not saying it isn’t, I’m just saying it was hard for me. Moving on …
It was the typical divorced parent/child setup. Saw dad every other weekend, whether I wanted to or not, starting at the age of 7. As I grew up, I felt like I needed daddy there for me, but he wasn’t. Or was he, and I just didn’t initiate the contact?
Contrary to popular belief, and what I’ve lead others to believe in the past, not ALL the times I spent with my dad were bad. Some, but not all. I remember going to a city bbq and pigging out on ribs and potato salad and helping my grandparents hand out rosaries, and Halloween parties at the local park, restaurants that had fun trains bringing us our food, places that taught about God and about how drinking alcohol and/or doing drugs ruined their lives, going camping and seeing my first skunk , laughing at silly jokes that I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to hear at such a young age, going on one weekend vacation where my sister left her baby blanket in the sheets-maid had already changed the sheets by the time we got back and they said they didn’t find it. I remember going to restaurants and laughing at people for making grammatically incorrect sentences, and playing darts at a local landmark that was one of the first buildings in my home town, and singing songs in the truck as we drove the freeway on a Friday night, and praying with him at night before bed-he’d always make sure to mention Mom & Frank’s names, no matter how much it hurt to bite his tongue. I remember going to the fish hatchery in Ventura and learning about how that whole thing works. I remember going to the beach and swimming out so far that it worried everyone but dad-he knew i enjoyed the excitement of being out so far and under the wave, so he let me enjoy it. I remember going to Jack In The Box and being able to get whatever we wanted, but only as a special treat. I remember going to family functions before everyone hated everyone else and being proud to say to the new member of the family I was meeting, “Hi. I’m TK’s oldest daughter.” I remember dancing with him at a birthday party for one of his friends and another time at a party for a family members birthday. I remember him taking us to church, even if we didn’t want to go because he thought it was important.
I can hear the question rambling around in your head right now. Don’t lie. You’re asking yourself, “How can she hate the man she describes here?” Because I also remember… the yelling, the screaming, the accusations, the hate, more yelling, the being called names, the fist-in-the-face “almost” punch he thinks is so funny, the throwing of things, more yelling, and the black & white way life had to be. I remember the anger I would get in return if my opinion was different than his. If I caught him in a bad mood, and I needed to say something on any subject, it was 9.5 out of 10 times, a negative statement I’d get in return. With a 28 year age difference, we are guaranteed to not have things in common. His interest in guns, women, politics and star trek, didn’t appeal to me as a 15 year old teenage girl. My interest in NASCAR, country music, boys and cars, didn’t appeal to him…and still don’t…and he lets me know, sarcastically and angrily. I remember him going to one basketball game of mine, and after we lost the game, his comment was, “It’s okay. You don’t need to be Amazon Woman to get boys to like you.”
One of the most wonderful memories I have is of my dad teaching my sister and I the song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”. We’d sing it all the time. When things were tough at Mom’s, and I would call dad, he’d tell me to just sing our song and things would be fine. I can remember times during high school when I’d secretly sing it to myself, only to have Dad ask me the next time I saw him, if I had in fact sang our song lately. It was sort of a strange connection. Perhaps the only connection. Or was it just coincidence? Was I desperately searching for a positive connection with him? I don’t know. He took my sister and I to see the movie “Song of the South” and I can remember being so happy and cheerful as I sang that song out loud every time it played during the movie.
Almost every day on my way to work, I see the same exact car (color and all) my dad has, going in the opposite direction as I, at the same part of my drive. Every time I see it, I think to myself, “Stop! Stop thinking about him.” But… you know, you just can’t sometimes. I had to be given a ride home a few days ago by a guy I work with, and he has the same car only a different color. As I was riding in it, I couldn’t help but think about all the fun stories we shared driving to/from the store or meetings, up/down the freeway, and then the times I’d be sitting in the backseat because I just couldn’t bear the thought of sitting next to him in the front seat, or afraid he’d put his arm very quickly in front of my face as if he was going to hit me but doesn’t, or the times he’d be yelling at me because I hadn’t done something he thinks I should have. I hated every moment of the ride, and couldn’t wait to be dropped off at JK’s house that day. It brings back more bad than good vibes, so I will think twice before asking him for a ride in the future, even though he lives a few streets from me.
So today, as I sit here and ponder what has become of my life and where it will go, I now see, very clearly, that I will, one day, be the person sitting on the cream colored recliner, playing on my laptop and watching my favorite TV shows. No friends to call, no family to visit. Just the company of a dedicated dog, a prissy cat and the occasional drop by of my son, if I’m lucky. This, is not who I want to be. This is the result of an unhappy life, and I have way too many things to be happy about, to let myself fall this far and fail in life. I’m happy when I’m happy, and I’m unhappy when I’m unhappy. Why in the hell would I want to be unhappy? It’s not fun. It’s not something I look forward to every day. WTF?