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Archive for October 1st, 2010

My son and I saw a school bus, which reminded me of something that happened when I was in sixth grade. This incident serves as a wonderful metaphor for my father’s role in my childhood. My father was the non-abusing parent who did make some effort to protect me (and did succeed in stopping my mother from sexually abusing me until his death) but whose efforts frequently wound up just making things worse (mother then passed me off to ritual abuser friends), leaving me to fend for myself.

My sister was 8 and I was 11 when our school bus was hit by a tractor trailer on a two-lane road. We were sitting in the back seat with our nine-year-old cousin. My sister, who was sitting next to the window, hit her head against the window and passed out for a few minutes, so an ambulance took her away to be examined at the hospital.

My father was on his way to work when he saw the school bus on the side of the road with a tractor-trailer plowed into it. He demanded to get onto the school bus to see if his kids were on it. When he saw my cousin and me, he demanded to take us home for the day. I told him that my sister had been taken in an ambulance to the hospital.

My father drove my cousin and me to our house in the rain, dropped us off in the driveway, and said he needed to get to work. From the perspective of a parent myself today, I cannot fathom not driving straight to the hospital to check on my eight-year-old child, but such was my reality, nor can I fathom dropping two young children off in front of a house without making sure there was an adult there to supervise them.

Of course, my mother had been called away to the hospital for my sister, but my father did not notice that her car was missing. By the time we walked through the rain, onto the porch, and learned that the front door was locked, my father was gone. In this day and age of cell phones, it might not seem like a big deal, but I had no access to a phone and no key to the house, so my cousin and I sat for hours on the porch shivering as the rain poured down around us.

We eventually had to use the bathroom and weren’t about to do it in the rain, so we walked to a neighbor’s house. Keep in mind that this was a country road, and we had only moved in a few weeks before, so we had to walk about half a mile and knock on doors, not knowing anything about any of our neighbors. Thankfully, the woman who opened up her door was an elderly lady who gave us blankets and hot soup to warm us up. She kept us all afternoon until my mother finally returned home. In fairness to my mother, she thought we were in school because my father never called her, believing that she had been taking care of us all day.

I cannot describe the sadness of this memory – not because of that one event but because of what it represents – a childhood filled with being damaged and the one person who cared enough to try to make it right repeatedly failing miserably at doing so. The one person who wasn’t hurting me and did care enough to at least get involved a little bit would ultimately only wind up leaving me to take care of myself. He was better than my mother, but he wasn’t what I needed him to be … and that makes me sad. It is just another loss that I need to grieve.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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