I have three good memories of my father. One is my memory as a 5 year old, chasing my father around the yard with a hose turned on. I can remember the laughter and my delight in getting him wet. The second memory is of swimming in a deep lake with my little arms tight around his neck. The third memory is of sitting at a card table in our Family Room and my father helping me with my math homework.
All of these positive memories are overshadowed by my memories of my father’s temper and violence. I had to walk on eggshells around him. His temper would flare and I would be his chief target. Even as a small child not yet in kindergarten, I can remember the wild look in his eyes, his fists, his kicks and his unrestrained anger. Little things set him off–like my watching a movie at 3 pm and he wanted me to go outside. Note to myself: Don’t voice an objection when he rushed into the room and, not saying a word, forcefully turned off the TV in the middle of a G-rated movie.
My father was not a drinker nor did he do drugs. He was a man of no patience. He was violent toward me (I was his eldest child.) with little provocation. He was not violent toward my mom nor my brothers.
When I left home to go to college, my dad treated my sister the same way with his beatings of her. When I came home from college, my sister refused to talk to me. I didn’t find out about her beatings until 40 years later when she told my eldest daughter who promptly told me.
Several years after I left home, my young husband and I were home for a holiday. I remember that my father got mad at someone else and began to yell. I couldn’t stop trembling.
My mother never interfered or stopped my father’s beatings. Perhaps she was frightened she would be next.
My father died 5 years ago of IPF…Ideopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis which is a progressive scarring of lungs until the patient no longer breathes. My mom tragically fell down her basement stairs and died a few months before my father’s IPF became worse. I was my father’s main caretaker. I treated him with kindness until his death a year later.
Because of my experience with my father, I married a kind and loving man who is a wonderful father to his children. And, I read parenting books and treated our children with loving kindness. They were never hit nor abused in any way. Our kids knew they were loved!
So, each Father’s Day , I pray that other violent parents will realize their great mistake and become a more loving parent. For the memories of the violence have never left me more than 40 years since I left my father’s house.