Its memorial day wknd and I often find myself out at a friends cookout or even having my own, not this wknd. I’m celebrating by staying home with my sons and being the best daddy I know how to be.
As the 2 of them play video games and I am left to myself I am thinking back on a special cookout, the last time I spent a fun day with my dad, it was simply amazing.
My dad had left for work one morning roughly 5 yrs prior and it had been yrs of unanswered questions and tons of what ifs. I hadn’t heard a word for yrs, no birthday wishes no merry Christmas nothing at all. I’m not sure the exact day but as I was heading out to probably do nothing good with some buddies my mother was on the phone and said your dad would like to speak with you…….
How did he get our new number? We had moved quite a few times traveling from New Hampshire back down to the Boston area. What could he want to talk to me about?
Damn it doesn’t really matter, he called and he wants to talk to me, finally.
Full of excitement, but being a 16 yr old self proclaimed tough guy, I couldn’t let the excitement show.
We spoke for a few quick moments before he asked me
“how come I haven’t got a fathers day card or birthday card”
WHAT!!!!! are you kidding me was my thoughts and my response was I didn’t know where to send it dad, but as he harped on me further for not making him feel wanted I lost control and asked him
“why did you leave me, my sister and mom with nothing”
“why did you hit my mom”
“where is my birthday cards xmas cards”
and his reply was he had a .380 slug with my name on it… little did he know I wasn’t the little kid he walked out on yrs earlier and I went into my bedroom and dry fired the revolver I had into the phone telling him stick the slug up your ass that’s a 32 with your name all over it and I hung up on him.
Boy did I feel good, my father had been the meanest man I ever met and with the blink of an eye he would become the nicest. Being so fearful of him my entire life I had never really stood up to him or spoke to him in that manner.
I had good reason to be fearful of him. He had hit me 4 times in my life, once he beat me in the legs to the point I couldn’t go to school the next day, another time I had stolen a belt in the 2nd grade from a classmate and got caught he whipped me with a belt so much and so hard I didn’t wear a belt for almost 20 yrs. The worst was when I told my nana to make her own toast when she was drunk, he beat me to the point that I actually shit my pants. We lived in an apartment building and I later found out the neighbor thought I was gonna come thru the wall as he tossed me off the walls and kicked me with his steeled toe boots. A friend of mine had been spending the wknd and witnessed this beating and was to frightened to leave his house once he went home for a few days.
So as you may imagine telling my father off and dry firing that 32 revolver was a great moment for m. What made it even sweeter for me was when he called back and I refused to take the phone. My mom, not knowing the convo or that I had the pistol, told me he is crying, you really upset him he wants to talk to you. I never did take the phone and later found out his reason for calling was he was coming back. I also found out he made his way far west all the way to Arizona. He was not calling to say he was coming back to see me or my sister he was coming back to help his buddy pack up and move out to Arizona.
Later that week after the phone call I was asked if I wanted to go Logan Airport to pick him up with is buddy, I couldn’t answer that, I wasn’t sure what it would be like to see him. Would we hug would we fight, so I told him I’m not sure, all the while in the back of my mind I knew I would go.
I remember standing on the corner of grove st and main st waiting for Doug to pick me up to go and pick up my father and I was a mess still not sure if I wanted to hug my dad or beat him.
The second I seen him walk outta the gate we ran to each other and embraced each other in the biggest hug and told each other we loved one another, the phone call was never brought up, turns out we were both really good at ignoring the past. I had no idea this would be the first day of the best and worst week of my life.
Doug was a contractor and it was going to be a week before he and my dad were packed and hitting the road, he had a few small jobs to finish up before he hit the road. It was awesome working side by side with my dad, hanging out daily with him. I was finally building the relationship I had dreamed of, we were best friends for the that week.
It was April 17th and we were heading up to New Hampshire for a cookout, I was driving up in the Cadillac with my dad cousin and my dads buddy, not Doug. We were talking about guy stuff and life problems when a pit stop was made in Lawrence for a “package”n my dad being in passengers seat was the cutting the lines up and asked if anyone in the back wanted one OF COURSE is what I yelled out, my cousin said no. We drove to the cookout and had a great day. When it was time to leave my mother who drove up with a couple friends had drank to much so it was decided I would drive home, mom dad cousin and I hit the road and my mom started puking all over the place in the back seat so my father said pull over so we can take care of her.
This is where my best week with my dad quickly started to become the worst…..
After getting my mom under control and cleaned up my father says I will drive from here, ok I’m thinking its getting late and I only have my permit. Nobody but him knew what his intentions were, he had no plan of driving us home so my mom could sleep this horrible drunk off, she never drank so seeing her so drunk was kinda funny but also shocking.
My father began driving to local bars looking for the woman he left us for, from one local dive to another from city to city until he found her. We were sitting in the car on a may street in Newburyport for a good 30 minutes until I built enough nerve to go inside and see what the hell he was doing, that’s when i walked in and seen him practically having sex with this lady in the middle of the bar, I hit him twice in the ribs and he didn’t respond, being full of rage I went outside and said mom that’s it hes in there with Kathy we are outta here, my mother being sick puking still begged me to park the car in a parking lot across the street in an apartment building to give her time to be able to get it together enough to drive us home, which was about a 35 minute ride from Newburyport to Melrose.
I did pull the car into to parking lot and we sat for nearly an hour until I finally got her to ok me to drive home. Instead of pulling outta the parking lot directly in front of the bar I drove around a couple buildings and out another exit, as we drove about a quarter mile down the road I noticed my father walking down the left side as we approached my mother asked me actually told me to stop and pick him up, not for any other reason but to drive due to the fact she was to intoxicated to drive and it was pretty late now and I hadn’t ever driven on the highway. I refused I chose to beep and flip him the bird and head home leaving him stranded.
The next day I was heading to Rhode Island for a few days with a buddy, I didn’t have a beeper, he didn’t have a house phone and the average person didn’t have a cell phone. As we left Melrose I got this horrible feeling and I asked my buddy Bobby to drive thru Malden by Doug’s house where I figured my dad probably ended up after I left him on the side of the road in Newburyport.
As we approached the dead end street Doug lived on I seen an ambulance speed off with police vehicles all over the place and the street was taped off with the yellow crime scene tape. I knew instantly some how I just felt in my gut. I jumped outta the car and ran over to Doug’s house which had police all around it, I seen a guy Joe and asked him wheres my dad, he grinned and said “your dad had a tough day today” then giggled I hit him as hard as I think I have ever hit anything. As the cops started to grab me Doug appeared and said no no its ok that’s Bob’s son then an officer had my dads ring on a pencil and showed it tome as if to give it to and said was this your dads as I went to take it he pulled it back and said this is evidence.
As I collected myself and was finally told it was my father in the ambulance that had just sped away as I pulled up I told my buddy Bob lets go to Malden hospital. i was in such a disarray I forgot how to get to the hospital which was just blocks away.
As I walked in the hospital I was shown to my dads bed and what I seen nobody should ever see their parents in that state, nobody should see any human like that. I screamed out DAD!!!!!!!!!! and that’s when he gurgled and his hands let go of the bars on the hospital bed, he died right there in front of me, I identified him…..
There’s a lot more detail and parts of this story but this is basically how my last week with my dad became my best and worst week ever.
I was thinking about this today I as I do my best to be the best daddy I know how to be for my sons