The other day I was going to write a post about my dad. His signs have been appearing the last few days. I know it makes me sound crazier than I actually am but I swear there is some sort of connection that is unseen between my dad and me. He didn’t raise me, my parents split when I was still in diapers. He’d call every few years, maybe send a card or something but that was about it. Until April of 1998. That was the year my high school principal took me out of school, brought me home, sat me down with my mom and forced her to hear that Krank Ficken had been molesting me for the past few years. It wasn’t until recently, and I mean within the last two years, that I realized he had been raping me as well. I didn’t understand exactly what rape is. I always assumed that because it wasn’t brutal or violent or because it was “just the tip” that it didn’t count as rape but it did. Especially when you add in all the other things he used on me and did to me.
Anyway, that day my mom could no longer deny the truth that had been in front of her since I was about 11. I spent the rest of that afternoon and early evening sitting on the couch surrounded by grown men in uniforms hovering around me listening to every detail and writing it all down. My mother and sister were the only other females there with me and my sister hid in her room while my mom stared blankly at nothing. That night, my dad called for the first time in about five years or so. I made it a point to ignore him and his calls. It was your typical story. He’d call, make promises to stay in contact and then you don’t hear from him for a few more years. This time though, it was like he knew. Within a few days my mom told us we would be selling everything we owned and moving across country to live with him.
I didn’t want to go but I had no choice in the matter. I knew my mom’s history with my dad and it just wasn’t a good one. Drug use, alcohol, domestic abuse, rape. You name it, he put my mom through it. You can probably see by now why I had a strong distaste for my own father before I even met him. After our family lived together and got to know each other, we figured out we weren’t good for each other and things just kept getting worse for everyone. Eventually, by the time I was 18, whatever family we had was pretty much over with. The thing is, the more distance that grew between my dad and us, the more connected we became. I know it sounds so stupid and insane but it’s true. It’s not an exact science, it’s not a system to rely on but it’s proven it’s ability throughout the years.
There would be times when my dad would go out-of-town and he wouldn’t tell anyone how long he would be gone. Eventually we stopped counting days and we would rely on our guts. There would be signs that he was not gone for good. They weren’t real signs but rather things that simply reminded us of him. And like everything else, it was a trinity of signs. On the way home from work I might hear a song that reminded me of him; the next I might smell dirty oil and be reminded of this horrible Suburban he used to drive that was missing its back window. The fumes would fill the vehicle and anytime I smell the smell of “I need a new transmission” I am still reminded of him. Then there would be a third sign; like maybe someone heard a word spoken with his type of twang. Once that third sign appeared, the tension in the house would grow instantaneously. We would know. The signs appeared; he was coming home shortly. Usually within a day or two you’d hear his crappy truck pull in the drive-way. It’s been like this for years. Even after my mom and Stilla moved back home, I’d have a dream about him and I’d call my mom to be on the lookout for him. She’d call me within the week and tell me he had called my grandparents (it’s the only number he can remember because it hasn’t changed since they first got a phone half a century ago) and harassed them.
I don’t talk to my dad. All I know is he had a stroke some time ago and his body is failing. Now he’s in a home that cares for the sick and elderly and he doesn’t want to be there. He’s not allowed in my life, has never seen my kids and hopefully things will stay that way. My only avenue for information is from his oldest brother. I try not to ask too many questions because I need to keep my emotions separate from my dad because not only is he not a good person, he’s not good for me. I don’t want my children to be influenced by him and his volatile character. I want my kids to become horrible on their own if that’s who they end up becoming. I don’t want to introduce them to that type of behavior myself.
It started with a song. E.L.O’s Evil Woman . My dad used to play that song when he was angry with my mom for something, anything. That’s what he did when he was sober: he spoke through lyrics. I ticked it off in my head as number one. The next sign came through my step mother. She added me (yet again) to Facebook (why do people have so many different accounts?); it sent off an alarm in my head. I know he can’t contact me but when these things happen I still get a little scared. I wonder if he’s dead, is he hurt, is he lost, is he dying? I just don’t know anymore. I can only take comfort in the fact that the questions such as:
When and where will he pop up?
are no longer worth asking. The third sign came a few days ago. We were driving back from JJ’s therapy sessions and we passed a construction site. My dad used to build fences for sites like these. On the fence for this site was a sign for the company he used to work for. It threw me off. The last I knew about this company was that a former employee opened his own fencing company and pretty much stole all of their customers. I assumed they went out of business when all of the red and white signs that used to litter my dads work truck were replaced by sky blue ones on new fences. Seeing these new fence signs really set me off. I was already thinking of a blog post because I wanted to remember when I saw the signs and how long it would take for me to hear from or about my dad. I never got the chance to make the post though and that stinks because now I’m lost on details.
This morning I logged onto Facebook and before I even knew what I was doing, I was sending my uncle a message. I wanted to know how my dad was doing. It’s very strange because I go out of my way to avoid anything to do with my dad. My uncle told me it was weird I would message him. He had been wanting to message me for a couple of weeks but couldn’t figure out how to get the conversation started. My dad is fine, he feels like the hospital he is in is jail because the state of Louisiana basically took him in as a ward of the state. Weird, right? Who knew Louisiana’s government allowed room for caring for poor disabled persons? My uncle wants to send my dad pictures of my kids and for some reason, with barely a hint of hesitation, I told him it would be okay. This is all very strange and I don’t know how to feel about this.
My family sucks; it’s so very disconnected and there is nothing but a painful history holding us all together (at a safe distance). I wonder if I could handle a full disconnection from all of them. My uncle said he noticed I’ve been getting along with one of his sons. It took everything I had in me not to tell him how disappointed I was that he could not accept my cousin because he is gay. He’s super funny, incredibly generous and pretty smart. I don’t understand what parent would rather not have their child in their life, especially one with such a great personality, just because of who he fell in love with. And his husband is a super nice guy, very successful and calm. Honestly, I don’t even really want to talk to my uncle because of his bigoted ideals which is why I try not to talk to him too often. This only adds to the strangeness of my contacting him even when I didn’t plan to.
This thing with my dad, this invisible tether that keeps us connected even when we are so far from each other we might as well be strangers can be annoying because of the fear and paranoia it represents but if it were suddenly cut for good would I survive it? I’m not sure I’d recover within a healthy amount of time. How can you harbor so much disdain, disappointment and dislike for one person and yet know that if that person were gone from your life for good, it would take you too long to feel somewhat normal again? I hope when he gets those pictures of my boys he will feel remorse for choosing the paths he’s chosen and I hope he feels pride when he sees my boys for the first time and how happy and healthy they are despite the fact they are mine. I am, according to my dad, a Satan worshipper, nigger lover (his words, definitely not mine) and somehow I’m a wet back (I’m so Anglo that I can’t even say mañana with any kind of accent). I want him to see how wrong he has been with his opinions of me but I don’t want to be there to show him. I can’t risk what little emotional security I have. He’s not worth the risk of losing that.