I firmly believe that all the things I’ve been through have combined to make me into who I am. Some of those things were bad, some were good, and some just were. I had no choice about most things until I was eighteen and could set out on my own, but even then I was never truly in control. There were demons that would not let me be.
Within the heart of an evil man lies a good seed never watered. A man such as this raised me; he wasn’t my biological father, but saw fit, after marrying my mother, to adopt me. A noble and good gesture? True; I can’t deny that. So, how can I call him evil?
Does adopting me, do any of the good things he did, exonerate him? I would answer with a question: Do flashes of lightning remove the darkness of a moonless stormy night?
If you can forgive a person, no matter who they are, or what they’ve done, you can love without boundary or condition. But who among us can say they are capable of this lofty achievement? Not I; no, certainly not I.
I try to tell myself I forgive him. I tell people I loved him, that he was a good father in many ways. But… I can’t make myself believe it, so why should they? I know the pain shows in my eyes when I talk about the things I’ve seen; the things he did and said. It’s hard to forgive someone who filled your heart and mind with fear for so many years of your life.
And then you’re grown up—or think you are—and it continues; the fear of wondering when he’ll show up or call. The gut wrenching feeling when you answer the phone and your hello is met by the sound of his voice. A voice that opens all the doors you’ve fought so hard to close; all of them swinging open at once, the cold air and hot breath of demons rushing in, hissing like a thousand snakes beneath your bed on a stormy night. Past pains and dreads crashing in your mind like booming thunder that pulls you from restful sleep when you hadn’t known it would rain. A voice you’ve prayed so many times you would never hear again. And this… goes on forever.
He’s gone now—died several years ago—and our last conversation still echoes in the cellar of my mind.
“What did I do to deserve this, son?” His voice is full of hurt and sadness. I don’t answer.
“I love you,” he says. “I’ve always loved you.”
“I know, dad,” I answer quietly. And in his own way—in his mind—he did; he simply did not know how.
I know what he’ll say next, and he says it, almost word for word: “I never did anything to hurt you. I was a good dad to you.”
“I gotta go,” I say.
He is silent for a long half minute, then says in a gruff, almost angry tone, filled with hurt and rejection, “Come see me, son.”
I hang up the phone.
Baggage? Yes, I’ve got some. They’re stored in the cellar now, but… I’ve never unpacked them.
Copyright © 2013 C Mashburn
Sharing this on Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday. Not a fun write, but maybe it will prod me into cleaning up that cellar.