Daddy Tells Me what I Do Not Want to Hear

THERE IS A SPOT along I-77 close to the Virginia-West Virginia border where I emerge from a tunnel and see the sign:

“You are now
LEAVING JEFFERSON NATIONAL FOREST.”

And every time I pass it I have the same thought,
that I didn’t know I was IN a forest.

And isn’t that often the way?

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Continuing from Hiding in the Coat Closet….

DADDY TELLS ME
fault doesn’t lay
all on one side
,
all in one place,
all on one person,
that it never does.

WHY does he have to say this just now,
worked, as I am,
into a good lather over injustices?

IT IS a HEADY THING to be right and know it,
and to hold tight to
all the things you are right about,
until your arms overflow
and some spills out and takes root.
Before you know it
you have
a tree
a copse
an orchard
a forest
out of which
you have forgotten to lay a road.

And there you are,
surrounded, no way out.
It takes someone else to see where you are.

But I digress….

* * *

HE and I LEAVE THE HOUSE
to get some peace

under the guise of running errands.

I am worked up
and he tells me this thing.
“I’ve not always done right either, you know.”
And I think he’s gone right off his bean.

I am a young teen
and he is mid-40s.
Ma is at or approaching her worst,
but Daddy seems to be turning a corner in his thinking
and I am not liking it.
Plain and simple, that.

“Are you saying it’s YOUR fault she drinks?”
“No, I’m not saying that, but…”
“Well, whatever mistakes you’ve made, they don’t compare.”

“Now, now,” he says.
but I am a runaway train,
as much as a timid person can be.

I count on him to gnash teeth along with me!

“All I’m trying to say…,” he starts,
but I interrupt
“Example, please? What have you ever done that matches this?”

Right here is where he can let it go
and stay the unblemished hero,
the cowboy in the white hat,
the charter member of the victim’s club.
But he doesn’t.

* * *

HE STEPS UP to my challenge,
talks about men whose anger gets the best of them
and how his too often got the best of him,
and other ways
he contributed to or aggravated the problem,
how he enabled.

“It took me a very long time to see it,” he says. “My part. And it’s the only part I can do anything about.”

I do not like what he has to say –
that he is blurring the lines.
– and I say so
and we are going to be at odds over this.

He makes his point
and I give him the teenage eye-roll,
but I remember all these years
what he told me
about enabling and seeing one’s part
and about anger and where it can lead.

He faded
before I could tell him
how useful that all has been to me.

Next post in series: Running Away from Your Story

* * *

See also:

I Thought When Ma was Gone, I’d Do It

“He was the glue.”

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
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